Former GOP appointee blasts Republicans over 'census' mailing
A former director of the U.S. Census Bureau has criticized the Republican National Committee over its decision to send senior citizens envelopes and questionnaires similar in design to the government's decennial Census forms.
Barbara Everitt Bryant, who was appointed by George H.W. Bush, served as Census director from 1989 to 1993. She said in a letter sent to RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele that she received the mailer, called the "2010 Congressional District Census." It was delivered in an envelope marked with the words, "Do Not Destroy, Official Document."
The mailer is "blatantly attempting to interfere with the United States’ 2010 Census of the Population," Bryant said. "The design of the mailing envelope and its enclosure is clearly intended to confuse recipients and, in doing so, affect response to the nation’s 23rd decennial census."
The mailing is "nothing more than a fund raising appeal by the RCCC [sic] using 20 very non-objective statements that no professional researcher would even call questions," she said. "Those who respond may feel they have been good citizens and already answered the census when their real questionnaires arrive next month."
"The document clearly indicates that it is an RNC mailer," said RNC spokeswoman Katie Wright. "The purpose of this document is to gather Republican opinion from across the country and raise a little money."
The party has used the mailer as a fundraising tool for more than a decade. Congressional Democrats, minority groups and public opinion researchers have complained publicly and more formally to the Postmaster General, but the Postal Service ruled that the mailing is legal because it does not explicitly use the words "U.S. Census Bureau" or the agency's seal.
Republican lawmakers and conservative activists have criticized the Census over its policy of counting undocumented immigrants. (That's the issue du jour in Florida's Republican Senate primary.)
Official Census questionnaires will be mailed in mid-March, the Census Bureau said. The agency has received complaints about the RNC mailing and similar efforts by other groups, but lacks the authority or ability to do anything about them.
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| February 3, 2010; 3:25 PM ET
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