My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Breaking News from South Carolina: GOP uses “fake” census for fundraising scheme

We hoped that the GOP learned a thing or two after their robocalls backfired prior to the 2008 presidential election, but apparently no such lesson has been learned as they’re up to such shenanigans again in Pennsylvania. Taking the deception one step further, the GOP recently started mailing “fake” census forms to people in South Carolina to raise money for the party. Our calls to national GOP leaders and South Carolina GOP officials have not yet been returned since it is after business hours. We hope to quickly determine how widespread these mailings are and to whom they have been sent (only  to registered party members or to the general public). The Anderson, South Carolina Independent Mail broke this most shocking story:

3rd District ‘Census’ form is actually GOP fundraiser

A fundraising letter sent by the Republic Party National Committee that appears to be an official U.S. Census form for the state’s 3rd Congressional District is not endorsed by U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, a spokesman said.

The letter, and accompanying “census” form, also seeks donations for “strengthening our Party for the 2009-2010 elections.”

Emily Tyne, a spokesman for the congressman in Washington, D.C., referred questions to Barrett’s gubernatorial campaign spokesman.

“He wouldn’t have anything to do with that,” said Jim Dyke, a spokesman for the Barrett campaign.

“He would hope there wouldn’t be any confusion about this Republican Party fundraiser and the actual census,” Dyke said. “The census obviously is of great importance.”

The GOP “census” includes questions on a range of issues and appears to be an official document. On the envelope is the wording “Do Not Destroy Official Document.”

The form inside includes the words “2009 Congressional District Census,” “Census Tracking Code,” and “Census Document Registered To:” and is similar to an official census questionnaire.

Each section contains questions, and Section V, under “Census Certification and Reply,” asks for donations from $25 to $500 or “other.”

At the end of the document are the words “Paid for by the Republican National Committee.”

Dyke said Barrett “didn’t have any control over it.”

B.J. Welborn, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau, said official census documents have a phone number for recipients to call to verify the mailing or ask questions. Census workers usually go door to door and have a badge and a hand-held computer, she said, but the agency does mail some questionnaires.

“What we send out is very clearly identifiable,” Welborn said.

“I couldn’t really comment on the GOP (letter),” she said. “We just want to make sure what is from us. If it is a mail survey, it is pretty easy to identify that it is from the U.S. government.”

People with questions can go to www.census.gov, she said. Two census offices opened in South Carolina in 2008 to supervise the current address canvassing operation, according to a statement. The phone numbers are (843) 323-4000 in Charleston and (803) 239-5012 in Columbia. Six more local census offices will open in the state to support 2010 census operations.

A U.S. Postal Service inspector did not respond by press time. An Anderson County Republican Party official did not return a phone message.


Note: MyTwoCensus is hoping to obtain an original copy/scan of the documents and envelopes discussed above. Please send any information/tips to MyTwoCensus @ MyTwoCensus.com.

Tags: , , , ,

6 Responses to “Breaking News from South Carolina: GOP uses “fake” census for fundraising scheme”

  1. April Brown Says:

    There will always be things like this and many will find opportunity to get funds. Educating the public about how to determine and combat, I believe is the key so that they won’t easily fall for things like this one.

  2. Census Retired Says:

    They did the same thing in 2000.

  3. QC Anywhere USA Says:

    OMG! I had a citizen, just 2-3 days ago, tell me that she had already mailed in her census survey! I told her, no, those aren’t mailed out until next year. She insisted that she had received one and had already mailed it in! And we’re not in the particular district nor state mentioned above! Is this more widespread than just S. Carolina?? It should be extremely illegal for any party to use the census, or anything closely resembling the census, for a fundraiser!

  4. Anonymous CL Atlanta Says:

    QC Anywhere USA, it’s possible that your person was selected for the American Community Survey (what used to be the “long form” and is now a continuous thing). I don’t know if it’s in the QC Lister Manual, but there’s some mention of other surveys in the “Difficult Situations” chapter of the production manual.

    While anyone can use the word “census” (which broadly means a collection of data from an entire population rather than just a sample), duplicating the “look and feel” of the Bureau’s forms is troubling, though not as troubling as, say, posing as an enumerator to obtain access to a residence (as police in St. Paul did in 2000). The Bureau’s single greatest asset in collecting data from a skeptical public is goodwill, and it’s frustrating that outside parties can erode that goodwill, particularly just as decennial field operations begin.

  5. QC Anywhere USA Says:

    I did mention that the Census does conduct surveys other than the main one that we’re working toward, perhaps that’s what she received. However, I remain dismayed that a political party would use the name for its own gains.

  6. PA voter Says:

    I just got mine in the mail today. I’m amazed that this is legal. Or that a prominent national organization would stoop so low. I’m a registered democrat who just changed address. What is this supposed to accomplish? Voter caging? I had actually been thinking about switching my party affiliation. No longer …