RNC’s fake-census appeals draw fire

RNC’S FAKE-CENSUS APPEALS DRAW FIRE…. Without a single vote of opposition in either chamber, Congress recently passed a law to restrict fake-census materials as part of sleazy fundraising campaigns. It was a rather direct rebuke to the Republican National Committee — it was, after all, the only entity trying to pull this stunt.

And yet, the RNC continues to send out the misleading mailings, with envelopes that include text such as “Census Document” and, in all caps, “DO NOT DESTROY/OFFICIAL DOCUMENT.” Asked for an explanation, RNC officials insist the law doesn’t apply to their underhanded fundraising techniques. Asked why not, RNC officials have very little too offer.

Yesterday, Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and William Clay (D-Mo.), both senior members of the House Oversight committee, urged the U.S. Postmaster General to intervene.

Oddly enough, Dems aren’t the only ones concerned. In a rare display of bipartisanship, some House Republicans aren’t happy, either.

A Republican Congressman just sharply criticized the RNC’s mailers as an effort to “deceive people” in an interview with me just now, and confirmed that he and a second GOPer are set to demand that RNC chair Michael Steele drop the practice immediately lest they remain in violation of the law.

What’s more, the U.S. Postal Service is investigating the RNC’s use of the mailers, the Congressman, Jason Chaffetz of Utah, confirms to me.

“They’re trying to be deceptive, and it outrages me,” Chaffetz said by phone just now.

Chaffetz and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) are reportedly drafting a letter to the RNC, demanding they stop their fake-census mailings.

I realize that, on occasion, the RNC will do something outrageous in the hopes that its misconduct will generate its own attention. For example, it might create a loathsome web ad, which it has no intention of airing on television, simply in the hopes that the networks will air for free as part of the coverage of the story.

But if there’s an upside to the fake-census story, I don’t see it. The RNC just looks sleazy, reckless, and possibly even criminal, with no apparent upside. When far-right House Republicans are raising a fuss, you know the RNC has crossed a line.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.