Is Republican census form an illegal Republican census scam?

Census form

Many legislators are angry that a Republican fund-raising letter looks like a Republican census scam. Image from Flickr.

Both Republican and Democratic leaders are speaking out strongly against the Republican census form that is turning out more like a Republican census scam. The fund-raising letter is disguised as an official “Republican census letter” that asks people to give the party money now. The Republican census scam is not new, but this year it may violate a law signed on April 7.

Republican census form aims to deceive

The Republican census form that has been mailed out is dated April 12. Given that the Republican census form uses phrases such as “Census tracking code,” “Census document registered to” and “OFFICIAL DOCUMENT, DO NOT DESTROY,” it looks very similar to official U.S. Census forms. Many are saying this is a Republican census scam. Think Progress.org has posted a copy of the Republican census form, while Politico quoted a “Republican operative familiar with the program” as saying:

“Of course, duping people is the point. … That’s one of the reasons why it works so well. …They will likely mail millions this year (with) incredible targeting.”

Republican census scam

The Republican census letters have been sent out for decades. Ten years ago, senators requested that the Postmaster General investigate the Republican census “scam.” The result of that investigation was that because the Republican census letters did not use a seal or official “U.S. Census Bureau” name, they did not violate the law. However, the House passed a law that President Obama signed on April 7 that specifically banned mailers that were “designed to confuse recipients.” Many senators have asked John Potter, the Postmaster General, to investigate the mailers.

Does the Republican census letter violate law?

The specific law that was signed on April 7 requires many things of the Republican census letter. Any mailing with an envelope marked “Census” must clearly indicate both the sender and the return address. The Republican census letter must also include a disclaimer that it is not from or affiliated with the federal government. The official Republican census letters that are dated April 12 do not appear to include these elements in the request for money loans.

So what do you think? Are these Republican census letters a Republican census scam or a legitimate fund-raising effort?

Sources:

TPM
The Plum Line
Politico

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