A mailer sent by the Republican National Committee imitates a U.S. Census survey — and seeks $15 for "processing."
Now the Montana Census and Economic Information Center is warning people about the mailer.
The survey is called the "2019 Congressional District Census" and was mailed across the state this week, including to voters in Missoula. It's not clear how many people received the mailing.
It includes questions such as "Do you support canceling all federal funding to sanctuary cities that fail to enforce U.S. immigration laws?"
The Montana Department of Commerce confirmed it was mailed by the RNC. It asks respondents to pay, at a minimum, $15 for the cost of processing the "Census Document."
However, Montana officials say that the official U.S. Census Bureau surveys will never ask respondents for money, and those surveys will always be postmarked from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau.
In a press release, the Montana Department of Commerce said that the Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act became law in 2010.
Montana officials are "ramping up outreach efforts" ahead of the official 2020 Census, according to the press release. Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney is the chairman of Montana's Complete Count Committee.
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"It’s imperative that we get accurate information about the Census to all Montanans,” Cooney said in the statement. “The official Census is easy to complete, secure, and does not cost money. An accurate and complete Census count for Montana is too important to take lightly.”
The mailing says at the bottom it was "Paid for by the Republican National Committee."
An RNC official said in an email that the mailers are "clearly marked that they are from the Republican National Committee."
"The mailers receive an overwhelming positive response and we continue to send each year because it performs so well," the RNC official wrote.
The Democratic National Committee has sent out similar surveys in other states, but those do not appear to contain any references to "Census Documents."
"The Democratic Party does not attempt to imitate government documents," a Montana DNC official told the Missoulian in an email. "Particularly with the 2020 Census coming up, the last thing Democrats are interested in is stifling the ability of our citizens to make themselves counted."
The press release from Cooney states that "counting everyone in Montana is critical because it determines the state’s share of federal funding for the next decade, and it determines whether Montana will get another representative in Congress."
"For every Montana resident counted, the Census estimates that Montana will receive almost $2,000 per year for the next ten years," the release notes. The federal dollars would support highway planning, medical assistance, educational programs, need-based support and infrastructure.