A Census look-a-like paid for by a Republican organization landed in Gallatin County mailboxes recently, spurring state officials to remind Montanans that the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t solicit donations.

The survey is called the “2019 Congressional District Census” and was mailed by the Republican National Committee.

The Department of Commerce Friday sent out a news release calling out the phony survey and reminding Montanans that official Census surveys don’t ask participants for money. The release said official surveys will always be postmarked from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau.

The Republican National Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ronna McDaniel, the committee’s chair, wrote in a letter included with the survey that it’s critical the recipient return the survey to “build the data models needed to target voters in Bozeman and help ensure President (Donald) Trump’s re-election.”

“Your completing and returning your 2019 Census Document is central to our ability to devise a winning Republican strategy in your area as we prepare for President Trump’s re-election year,” McDaniel wrote.

The survey asks the age of the participant, their political preferences and whether they’re planning to vote for Trump in 2020. It also asks about general issues like whether the participant believes the Democratic Party is promoting a “Big-Government Socialist” agenda and if the media is suppressing conservative messages to influence public opinion and elections.

One question asks participants if they approve or disapprove of “the Democrats’ agenda to raise taxes, provide free health care and college tuition for all, open our borders to all immigrants, enact dangerous abortion polices, pack the Supreme Court, allow inmates to vote and abolish the Electoral College?”

Montana’s Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, took the bogus mailers as an opportunity to talk about the importance of the Census and getting an accurate count of Montanans. He said in the release that a complete count means the state gets its “fair share of funding.”

“An accurate and complete Census count for Montana is too important to take lightly,” Cooney said.

In May, identical Census look-a-like mailers were sent to people in Lewis and Clark, Jefferson and Missoula counties, the release said.

In 2010, Congress passed the Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act that prohibited deceptive mail practices that attempt to exploit the census.

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2630. Follow him on Twitter @TGIFreddy.

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