The House has voted 416-0 to ban misleading mailers designed to look like official communications from the Census Bureau of the kind that two national Republican groups recently sent out.
Under the bill, co-sponsored by two House Republicans as well as several Democrats, mailers marked “census” will have to state the name and address of the sender, along with an unambiguous disclaimer that it’s not affiliated with the federal government. It will be taken up by the Senate soon.The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Campaign Committee have both sent out mailers recently that were designed to look like they came from the Census Bureau.
Paul Lindsay, an NRCC spokesman, denied to TPMmuckraker that a recent mailer from his group that read “You are one of a carefully selected group of Republican leaders nationwide receiving the enclosed CENSUS DOCUMENT containing your 2010 Census of America’s Republican Leadership,” was misleading. He added: “The NRCC remains opposed to misleading mailers, which is why we will continue to comply with the law.”
Doug Heye, an RNC spokesman said: “Just as it has done in the past, the committee will continue to comply with the law.”
The measure was co-sponsored by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). Recently, both men slammed the mailers. “Nothing could be more wrong,” said Issa.
The effort to crack down on the mailer comes as the Census Bureau gets set to mail out real census surveys. The Bureau has said it’s concerned that the misleading mailers could cause people to believe that they’ve already filled out their survey, reducing response rates, and thereby forcing the bureau to spend more money by sending survey-takers to people’s homes.