Under Chairman Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee has been using controversial mailers posing as official Census documents to raise money. “Calling itself the ‘Congressional District Census,’ the letter comes in an envelope starkly printed with the words, ‘DO NOT DESTROY OFFICIAL DOCUMENT’ and describes itself, on the outside of the envelope, as a ‘census document,'” notes Politico. Although the mailers have been used before, they were heavily criticized this year because they coincide with the actual Census; many observers worried that people would confuse the two. Yesterday, the House voted 416-0 to ban “misleading mailings designed to appear they’re from the Census Bureau”:
The legislation passed 416-0, after two Republicans who sit on the House panel overseeing the census, Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Jason Chaffetz of Utah, agreed to co-sponsor the measure. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., has said he intends to move forward with legislation in the Senate.
“With millions of census forms due to hit mailboxes within days and a multimillion advertising campaign meant to encourage completion and return of those forms, too many nongovernmental organizations are trying to piggyback on that brand awareness,” said the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.
170 Republicans voted to ban the RNC letters, and Issa and Chaffetz blasted Steele’s tactics in a recent committee hearing on the matter. “I have seen the Republican Party send out documents that say ‘census.’ I think it’s wrong, I think it’s deceptive, and I wish they wouldn’t do it,” Chaffetz said. Steele recently defended the mailers, saying, “If it’s against the law, I won’t [send them]. Until such time, this is an aggressive fundraising season.” (HT: DailyKos)