This can't be legal, can it, impersonating a federal document that all Americans are mandated to fill out?
The Republican Party is seeking input and money from GOP voters - seemingly under the guise of the U.S. Census Bureau.
"Strengthening our Party for the 2010 elections is going to take a massive grass-roots effort all across America. That is why I have authorized a Census to be conducted of every Congressional District in the country," GOP Chairman Michael Steele says in a letter mailed nationwide.
The letter was sent in plain white envelopes marked "Do Not Destroy, Official Document." Labeled "2010 Congressional District Census," the letter uses a capital "C," the same as the Census Bureau. It also includes a "Census Tracking Code."
The letter makes a plea for money and accompanies a form asking voters to identify their political leanings and issues important to them. There are no disclaimers that participation in the GOP effort is voluntary; participation in the government census is required by law. Failure to participate carries a $5,000 fine, though it is rarely enforced.
The GOP, of course, deny that their fundraiser was intended to mislead anyone. But it's laughable, at best, with their hugely partisan leading questions ("Do you think the record trillion dollar federal deficit the Democrats are creating with their out-of-control spending is going to have disastrous consequences for our nation?") and the mimicking of the Census form (copy courtesy of the Politico), who are they trying to kid? Some Republican operative emailed Ben Smith at the Politico and unabashedly admitted it was intentionally misleading:
A knowledgeable Republican operative emails: "Of course duping people is the point...that's one of the reasons why it works so well. The others: low per piece cost -- they drop hundreds of thousands of pieces at a time, and will likely mail millions this year. And incredible targeting."
All's fair in love and politics, eh, GOP? The Census Bureau has officially not decided what steps to take, but the US Postal Service declined to investigate.