Fake RNC Census surfaces again — this time in Bucks, MontCo | Tuesday Morning Coffee

February 11, 2020 7:11 am

Detail of RNC ‘census’ document sent to voters in the 5th Congressional District in 2019 (Capital-Star file)

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Reminding us of the importance of always reading the fine print, we’ll start this morning in the Philadelphia suburbs where a document that’s mocked up to look like the U.S. Census, but is really a clever fund-raising ploy by the Republican National Committee, is once again making the rounds.

The document started landing in mailboxes in Berks, Bucks and Montgomery counties, according to KYW-1060 AM, and the office of U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, who sent constituents an email warning them to be on the lookout for it.

A copy of the document, obtained by KYW-AM, informs recipients that “You’ve been selected to represent voters in the 1st Congressional District.”  That’s the seat held by GOP U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, whose Bucks County-based district is on the Democrats’ want list in 2020.

The census pitch asks for information on a host of issues, as well as demographic data about the recipient. It’s identical to a document that was sent last October to voters in the Delaware County-based 5th District, represented by Democratic Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon.

U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District (U.S. House of Representatives photo)

In an email blast to constituents, Dean, a Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, warned them not to be taken in by the official looking document, which concludes with a request for contributions.

While it’s not illegal, the U.S. Census Bureau can’t stop the RNC from sending out the mailers, Dean noted. The bureau does “not own the word census. Anyone can take a census – it just means they are taking a poll,” she wrote.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of having everyone included in the official 2020 U.S. Census,”  Dean said. “It is disturbing to see an organization taking advantage of this important work, and causing confusion, and my office has partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to help ensure they get the most accurate count possible — it’s an enormous impact on services, representation, and dollars coming to our district and to our state.”

It’s also important to note that this isn’t the first time that Republicans have used the “Census” tactic to pry personal information out of voters and part them with their money. Similar mailers were sent out in 2010 around the last federal count, Politico reported at the time. Voters elsewhere in the country also received the document last year, published reports indicated.

Our Stuff.
U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick met with Parkland survivors — and President Donald Trump — to discuss school safety measuresCassie Miller reports.

Our partners at crunch some U.S. Census data, finding that rural and poor states depend on the decennial count the most to ensure their share of the federal pie. Pennsylvania received more than $39 million, channeled through 55 federal programs thanks to Census-derived data.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune: Voters in the city’s 190th House District, formerly represented by Democrat Movita Johnson-Harrellhead to the polls this month for the second time in a year to cast ballots in a special election for the seemingly jinxed seat. And Philly lawmakers say they’re going to target the liquor stores known as “stop-and-gos” with new regulations.

On our Commentary Page, three charts, compiled by a University of Maryland/Baltimore County expert, show that President Donald Trump’s “Blue Collar Boom” is really a bust. And with his Senate acquittal, an unshackled Trump is going to be even worse than before, opinion regular Fletcher McClellan writes.

The Harrisburg, Pa., skyline (Image via Flickr Commons)

Harrisburg has plenty of upscale apartment development — but very little affordable housingPennLive takes up the imbalance (paywall).
Progressives in Philadelphia have learned to use the campaign finance laws they once criticized, the Inquirer reports.
An LGBTQ advocacy group in Pittsburgh has announced its primary season endorsementsPittsburgh City Paper reports.
The Morning Call has the details on an effort to help homeless veterans in the Lehigh Valley.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

Attorney General Josh Shapiro has sued Juul Labs for ‘epidemic levels’ of vaping among teens, WHYY-FM reports.
lawsuit seeking information about abuse in Pennsylvania’s Catholic dioceses is about to get larger, the Pa. Post reports.
asks readers if they believe Pennsylvania should move its primary date.
The polls are open in New Hampshire. Politico has the details.

What Goes On.
Another day of silence in the big building on Third Street. Back to business on Wednesday.

Gov. Tom Wolf 
will attend a Black History Month reception in the Pa. State Museum this afternoon at 5:15 p.m.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out to our old pal, Deb Kiner, of PennLive, who celebrates this morning. Congratulations and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s some new music from Pet Shop Boys. It’s ‘Happy People.’

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
snapped its losing streak with a 6-2 win over Nashville on Monday night.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.