HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. —The Indiana Democratic Party wants answers after a text message was sent to residents of Hamilton County that reportedly masquerades as being from a progressive Democratic group but reveals a message of actually being sent from the “Hamilton County Republican GOP” when people choose to opt out of receiving text messages from the sender.
The Indiana Democratic Party condemned the text message — which invited people to a Free Palestine Rally that was held at Monument Circle on Thursday —calling it “repulsive” and an attempt “to deceive voters” ahead of the upcoming elections.
“At a time when members of our community are in mourning and supporting friends and family members who are going to Israel to fight terrorists, these messages are spreading lies and dividing our county,” said Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair Dayna Colbert. “This deceitful text message campaign is just the latest example of how their only goal is to divide our community.”
The Hamilton County Republicans denied sending the text messages and told IBJ political reporter Peter Blanchard that the Hamilton County Republicans don’t use the name “Hamilton County Republican GOP,” which is reportedly displayed in the opt-out message from the text in question.
Politico reporter Adam Wren pointed out that a state filing by the Hamilton County Republicans did cite the party committee’s name as the “Hamilton County Republican GOP”, however. The Hamilton County Republicans Chair Mario Massillamany told Peter Blanchard that despite registering with that name, the party doesn’t use it in flyers, mailers or on their website.
The Indiana Democratic Party called the Hamilton County Republican Party’s denial “laughable.”
“Voters are sick and tired of petty politics that smear and divide our communities–and the GOP’s denial was laughable at best. The people of Carmel deserve leadership that is moral, ethical, and fair,” said Indiana Democratic Party Chair Mike Schmuhl.
Republican lieutenant governor candidate Micah Beckwith insinuated that the Indiana Democratic Party was behind the text messages in a social media post. The Indiana Democratic Party not only denied and disavowed the texts, but told Adam Wren that there is no known coalition group called the Progressive Democrats of Indiana.
Carmel mayoral candidates Sue Finkam and Miles Nelson weighed in on the scandal with both candidates condemning the text message on X, formerly Twitter.
“Today’s text message, which both parties deny sending, is reprehensible in its attempt to hurt and anger. I hope the persons responsible for these tactics are found and held accountable,” Finkam said.
Nelson’s statement read, “Using the horrific terrorist attacks and the ongoing hostage crisis to score cheap political points is disgusting, and the people responsible should be fired and apologize immediately. This is a time for unity — not dirty tricks.”
Adam Wren and Peter Blanchard both reported that the Hamilton County Republicans claimed to have hired a private investigator to look into the text messages but were told that the number was “untraceable.”
A search of the phone number revealed no matches on the reverse phone number search site USPhonebook.
After publication, the Hamilton County Republicans released a new statement reiterating that they had “absolutely nothing to do with” the text message.
“We didn’t send it, we didn’t pay for it, and we don’t know who did,” Chairman Mario Massillamany said.
Massillamany said the Hamilton County Republicans’ text campaign uses different language to opt out of text messages, using the phrasing “stop2end” and “stop=end.”
“There is no upside for Republicans to do something like this. We are trying to track down the source of the text including contacting carriers,” Massillamany said