Is the RNC Breaking the Federal Census Mailer Law?

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By Admin on April 29, 2010 10:16 AM

As written about previously on this blog, some groups received criticism for sending out mailers that were made to look like the census forms from the federal government, but were actually used for soliciting donations. A law was passed in March of this year that prohibited such mailings.

According to TPMMuckraker, the Republican National Committee, one of the groups whose faux census-style mailings pointed up the need for the new law, is still sending out mailers that the report says will be confused with the census forms. TPMMuckraker reports that the RNC mailers it obtained have the words "Census Document" and "DO NOT DESTROY/OFFICIAL DOCUMENT" printed on the outside of the envelope. In smaller letters it also says: "This is not a U.S. government document."

The law requires that among other things, mailers like the one sent by the RNC have the name and address of the sender on the outside of the envelope. According to TPMMuckraker, the RNC mailer does not appear to comply with this requirement.

The law prohibiting the mailers that could confuse consumers about whether they were actually official census mailings from the government received strong bi-partisan support. In fact, at the time the law was passed, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said about the deceptive mailers, "Nothing could be more wrong."

Democrats who supported the law made their feelings known as well. "What is with these guys?," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), to TPMMuckraker. "We pass a law in record time, with unanimous bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, to reduce confusion about the real Census-- knowing that every census form that isn't returned costs taxpayers money and hurts accuracy. But there goes the RNC again, right back to trying to make a buck on the Census!"

In response, RNC spokesman Doug Heye told TPMMuckraker: "We simply looked at the new law, saw that it did not apply to our mailer and continued with the mail pieces."

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