RNC Mails Census Look-Alike Fundraiser Just Ahead Of The Actual Census
The Republican National Committee is sending fundraising mailers that closely resemble the actual U.S. Census form residents across the country will begin receiving next month, according to the New York Daily News.
The fundraiser sent to a registered Republican in Westchester County, obtained by the publication, reads: “Enclosed is your official 2020 CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT CENSUS … in your name as a representative of Yorktown Heights.”
It also assigned the recipient a seven-digit “registered code” much like those used to access online forms for the real census, the Daily News reported.
Also included on the mailer is “a large form with 41 multiple-choice questions that mimic the real 2020 census that will be distributed starting next month,” as well as a box at the bottom to “certify” the survey and input credit card information to make a donation to the RNC.
Critics of such fundraising mailers say even though a thorough read reveals the form to be a political fundraiser, it still has the potential to confuse people and trick them into thinking they have filled out the real census form.
Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, said the RNC mailer “is a perversion of the normal functioning of government.”
“Its timing is particularly objectionable because it will confuse people and discourage them from actually participating in the official census,” she said, adding that similar mailers have been found in Ohio, Montana, Washington, and California.
At a congressional hearing on Thursday, Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) questioned Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham on the issue, saying, “This is not the first time that we have seen the RNC … try to confuse voters by sending them a mailer that imitates the census. This mailing has already gone out, so the time to stop it has already happened.”
Dillingham responded that he had not personally seen the fundraising mailer but said he would look into it.
“I’ve heard generally about the problem,” he said. “We will study this problem.”
After the RNC employed similar tactics in 2010, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) wrote a bill to address the problem, called the Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act.
The law “bars non-government groups from sending solicitations with the word ‘census’ on the envelope, outside cover or wrapper through U.S. mail,” the Daily Mail reported.
“Clearly, the RNC has found a way to skirt the law deliberately, making their actions even more reprehensible,” Maloney said in a statement. “These mailings sow confusion at a time when the public needs clarity about the census – putting an accurate count in danger.
“I am now working to strengthen the language of the Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act so that these dirty political tricks can’t be used in the future.”