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Boston mayoral candidate Michelle Wu’s campaign says about 20 people showed up to a Sunday rally expecting $100 Visa gift cards for participating after receiving fliers that didn’t actually come from her campaign.

Wu was holding a climate change-focused canvas kickoff with Senator Edward J. Markey at Moakley Park in South Boston when the people arrived, telling campaign workers the fliers were being handed out at a housing development across the street and at the tents around the homeless area of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, also known as Mass. and Cass.

“Upon learning that the fliers weren’t actually from our campaign, several people were extremely disappointed because they said they were hungry and wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to eat that day,” Wu’s campaign manager Mary Lou Akai-Ferguson said in a statement.

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It’s unclear where the fliers came from. Wu’s campaign said it ordered sandwiches for those who showed up.

“This was a heartless, manipulative move, and we call on the [Annissa] Essaibi George campaign to condemn this despicable tactic,” Akai-Ferguson said in the statement.

Essaibi George’s campaign did just that Sunday, criticizing the fliers and even suggesting that a supporter of her rival may have been behind them.

“We join the Wu campaign in condemning this heartless behavior. Let us be clear: this has no place in this race,” her campaign said in a statement last night. “We had no knowledge of it and would never stoop to such low levels. Our most vulnerable residents need our help, not to be grossly misled for some disgusting political stunt.”

Nicole Caravella, spokeswoman for Essaibi George’s campaign, said in an interview their team has reached out within their networks and determined no one associated with their campaign, nor any supporter, was involved in creating or distributing the fliers.

“Not only does it not make sense for us to do, that’s not how we operate,” Caravella said, adding that this issue is now distracting from Essaibi George’s new plan on addressing the humanitarian crisis at Mass. and Cass. that she announced on Sunday.

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She said the Wu campaign should also do their “due diligence” to determine if anyone in their campaign or in their corner distributed the fliers.

“I think someone backing Wu — I’m not saying it’s the Wu campaign, but someone backing Wu did this,” Caravella said. “And I think they got the reaction that they wanted, and that was to distract from talking about the issues and Annissa’s real plans, and instead, we’re focusing on this.”


Sahar Fatima can be reached at sahar.fatima@globe.com Follow her on Twitter @sahar_fatima.