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National GOP defends its ‘census’ fundraiser

BY CHRIS CASTEEL Modified: May 6, 2010 at 11:39 am •  Published: May 6, 2010
WASHINGTON — The national Republican Party on Wednesday defended a fundraising mailer designed to look like a census form, but not all Republicans are happy with the approach.

The mailer, which uses the word "census” in numerous places and even includes a "census tracking code,” is actually a questionnaire about policy issues and a plea for money sent out to Oklahomans and residents of other states by the Republican National Committee and its chairman, Michael Steele.

The fundraising letter does state in one area that it is not a U.S. government document, and it includes a return envelope addressed to the Republican National Committee in Washington.

Though a Utah congressman and others have questioned whether it violates a new law against mailings masquerading as official U.S. census forms, a party spokesman denied any attempts to mislead people.

"The Republican National Committee is in full compliance of the law,” RNC spokesman Jahan Wilcox said Wednesday. "The purpose of this mailer is to raise money so we will have the resources available to defeat Democrats this fall.”

Gary Jones, the chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, said he didn’t know anything about the mailer until he received one.

"That would not be something I would choose to do,” Jones said of the fundraising approach. "We try to do everything upright and open and to the point.”

Jones said the state party headquarters has received a few complaints about it but that most of the complaints he has heard came from Democrats.