GOP lawmaker hits RNC 'census' mailers

A Republican member of Congress Tuesday expressed "outrage" over the Republican National Committee's continued use of mailers that resemble census forms.

Congress passed a law last month with broad support to ban "deceptive" mailings, but the RNC has maintained the "census" fundraising mailers are not deceptive.

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Chaffetz, who is a member of the newly-formed bipartisan Transparency Caucus, is not pleased about reports that the RNC has continued to send the mailers they say are not covered by the law.

“They’re trying to be deceptive, and it outrages me,” Chaffetz told the liberal blog The Plum Line. "I’m happy to walk over there and give them a lesson," Chaffetz said. "Just don’t use the word 'census' and you don’t have a problem."

The dust-up underscores reported tension that exists between the RNC and Republican members of Congress, who have chafed at what they say is Chairman Michael Steele's penchant for bad headlines, making policy statements and for saying the GOP won't take back the House in November.

Members and Steele have largely denied that tension is still there and the committee has said it is committed to doing whatever it takes to win back Congress.

Chaffetz said that the law applies to the RNC.

"They’re going to have to abide by the law,” Chaffetz continued. “The reason they’re using the word census is they’re trying to deceive people. I think that’s wrong. Even though it’s my own party I’ve got to call this out for what it is."

But the committee disagrees with that standpoint.

"Our legal department has ruled that the mailer is well within the confines of new statute. Thus, the mailers have continued," RNC communications director Doug Heye said in an e-mail.

The freshman lawmaker said that he and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) are sending a letter to Steele urging him to halt the mailings, he told the Plum Line.