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RNC Still Fundraisers With Deceptive "Census" Forms

April 26, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Just weeks after the House voted 416-0 and the Senate agreed by unanimous consent to ban groups from sending out deceptive mailing that exploit the census, the Republican National Committee is doing a fundraiser using deceptive mailing labeled “Census Document.” TPM reports:

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. (See the mailer here.)

The bill passed by Congress specifically banned non-governmental mailers “which bear the term ‘census’ on the envelope or outside cover or wrapper.”

So why are the Republicans able to get away with this? Because, as David Waldman explains, the bill has a catch-22 enforcement system:

If you “violate the law,” it looks like what happens is that your fundraising solicitation can be declared “nonmailable.” Of course, it appears to be the case that that only happens… once someone gets it and complains, which means the thing has already been mailed.

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