Earlier this month, President Obama signed legislation that passed both the House and Senate unanimously to outlaw “deceptive” mailings disguised to look like official Census documents. Congress took up the measure after Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Michael Steele sent fundraising mailers marked with the words “census document,” and “DO NOT DESTROY OFFICIAL DOCUMENT.” But despite the new law, a number of news outlets report the RNC is continuing the send “virtually identical” phony Census forms:
An RNC mailer obtained by TPMmuckraker bears the words “Census Document” and, in all caps, “DO NOT DESTROY/OFFICIAL DOCUMENT,” on the outside of the envelope. In smaller letters, it says: “This is not a U.S. government document.” The new law requires, among other things, that such mailers state the name and address of the sender on the outside of the envelope — something the RNC’s missive doesn’t appear to do. Inside, a letter from RNC chair Michael Steele, dated April 12, asks recipients to fill out a questionnaire about their political views, and solicits donations of as much as $500 or more.
An RNC spokesperson claimed the mailer does not violate the law, but both Democrats and Republicans condemned it, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said the U.S. Postal Service has launched an investigation. Chaffetz said the RNC is “trying to be deceptive, and it outrages me.” “What is with these guys? Congress passes a law in record time, with unanimous bipartisan support in both houses, to reduce confusion about the real Census. But there they go again, trying to make a partisan buck on the Census,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Texas GOP Reps. Mac Thornberry and Mike Conaway also expressed concern, and Thornberry said he formally registered his objection with the RNC. A Census Bureau spokesperson said phony mailers “could undermine response rates and increase the costs of the Census to follow up and get that accurate count.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has introduced legislation that he claims would fix the issue.