Talking Points Memo]
Do you notice that the envelope says it is an "OFFICIAL DOCUMENT" and the paper inside, made visible via the enormous "window" says "Census Document Registered To: [name redacted]"? But guess what? This was not sent out by the U.S. Census Bureau, but the Republican National Committee. This is deceptive, which is why Congress passed a law making mailings that are designed to trick recipients into thinking they are from the Census illegal. The law's exact words however, only made it illegal to have the word "Census" placed on the envelope itself. So the RNC moved that information into the "window," and voila! legal again.
"I can't help it that the Democrats wrote a bad bill," [RNC Chairman Michael Steele] said. "The reality of it is we complied to what the law required and the mailer went out."
Well, not so fast. This perhaps technically legal mailer you see above pissed off not one but two House Republicans, and one of them goes by the name of Jason Chaffetz (UT-03).
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), a co-sponsor of the legislation passed last month, told The PlumLine's Greg Sargent that the mailer is intended to "deceive people," and added that he and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) will send a letter to RNC chair Michael Steele urging him to put a stop to the missives.So the U.S. House passed another bill 416-0 closing the Michael Steele loophole. Of course, who knows when the U.S. Senate will get off its duff. It takes 60 votes for Harry Reid to tie his shoes you know.
"They're trying to be deceptive, and it outrages me," Chaffetz said. "The reason they're using the word census is they're trying to deceive people. I think that's wrong. Even though it's my own party I've got to call this out for what it is."
Why would the RNC continue to make such mailers when they are obviously flouting the spirit of the law? Especially to the neighboring district of Rep. Chaffetz, one of two Republicans in the House to write Michael Steele a nasty-gram about this tactic?
[GOP Consultant Walter] Lukens estimated to TPMmuckraker that his firm had sent out 100 million such mailers over the last decade. He said his firm had come up with the original idea around 2000, and despite some initial concerns, the RNC had ultimately green-lighted the concept. "One of the things that the RNC is very good about is letting creative people do their thing."Apparently, if people knew who really sent the letter, they would throw it away much more often. I am sorry but if this was say a credit card company instead of a political party, we could all agree that this kind of crap should be outlawed. Good for Chaffetz for calling his party to the mat when they did a dumb thing.
The mailer's apparent high rate of return suggests why Michael Steele and co. may be unwilling to stop using it.