Republican Party sending mailer labeled census ahead of official forms

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The Republican National Committee (RNC) is sending fundraising mailers in California and other states that look like the official U.S. census, a move critics worry will confuse people and skew actual census results. 

The mailers are labeled “2020 Congressional District Census” and are sent in envelopes reading: “Do Not Destroy. Official Document.” The envelope contains a questionnaire on blue paper in a similar format to the actual census, and includes questions on political policies and stances.

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One question asks the recipient if they “support President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE’s strong stance in demanding that our nation builds a border wall,” while another asks “Do you support the Democrats’ plan to enact Medicare for All?”


The questionnaire does include fine print identifying it as a Republican piece of mail, stating near the top that it is “commissioned by the Republican Party” and in smaller print noting it’s paid for by the RNC. It also includes a letter signed by RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDanielRonna Romney McDanielGOP moves main 2020 convention events, including Trump speech, to Jacksonville GOP votes to scale back Charlotte convention, move Trump acceptance speech The Hill’s Morning Report – DC preps for massive Saturday protest; Murkowski breaks with Trump MORE and appeals for donations to reelect Trump.

RNC officials have maintained that the mailers are clearly labeled as RNC documents, and the survey performs well. 

Democrats, however, still worry the mailer is misleading. Democratic National Committee spokesman Daniel Wessel called it “intentionally deceptive.”

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) told the Los Angeles Times that her office has been contacted by constituents whose elderly parents were confused as to whether the document was official. She also said she was worried people will “toss their actual census envelope because they’ve already filled this one out.”

RNC mailers claiming to be census-related have also been sent in Montana and Oregon over the past few months, as well as other states. The RNC also used similar mailers back in 2010, which were deemed by the United States Postal Inspection Service’s general counsel to be legal and not a violation of the 1990 Deceptive Mailings Prevention Act.

The official 2020 census is expected to be mailed in March. Census survey documents are issued from the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Census Bureau and do not ask for money.

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