The photo is presented as a true image of Dean Hrbacek, a Republican former mayor of Sugar Land, Texas. In reality, it is a computerized composite of Hrbacek's face and someone else's slimmer figure, in suit and tie, from neck to knee.
Campaign manager Scott Broschart acknowledged to The Houston Chronicle that the image is a fake. Hrbacek has been so busy that he had no time to pose for a full-length photo for the mailing, Broschart said.
"He may appreciate that we took a few pounds off him," Broschart said.
"I think the voters ... are more concerned with the issues as opposed to pretty photo shoots."
Republican political consultant Allen Blakemore of Houston, who has no client in the congressional race, said there's no law against the practice "other than the laws of gravity -- the negative effect on your polling numbers and popularity when you do such things."