Maloney and Eshoo Introduce Bills to Strengthen Laws Prohibiting Deceptive Census Communications

Mar 12, 2020
Press Release

Washington D.C. (Mar. 12, 2020)—Today, Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, author of the 2010 Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act, and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo introduced two key bills that prohibit deceptive census mailings and create criminal penalties for anyone who distributes false information to prevent others from completing their census forms.

The Census Form Integrity Act prohibits deceptive mailings that trade off the good reputation of the Census Bureau.  This bill would:

  • prohibit non-government entities from sending solicitations that use the term “census” with other deceptive language, unless the solicitation also contains a clear disclaimer that it is not from a government agency;
  • strengthen the bipartisan law passed unanimously in 2010;
  • provide enforceable penalties; and
  • help meet our constitutional obligation to ensure every person in the United States is counted in the Census.

“It’s unfortunate that we must introduce yet another bill to prohibit the Republican Party from skirting the bipartisan laws banning fake census mailers,” Maloney said.  “I urge my Republican colleagues to join me to block deceptive mailers that could harm the accuracy of the census and hurt our communities for the next decade.  We simply cannot afford to get this wrong.  If people aren’t counted, then they are not represented.”

The Honest Census Communications Act would outlaw communicating false information about the Census using written, digital, or telephonic communications in order to impede or prevent others from participating in the census.

  • Violators can be fined up to $11,000 per communication (similar to the False Claims Act), imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both. 
  • The bill is modeled on the prohibitions on election disinformation included in H.R. 1.

“I’m proud to partner with Chairwoman Maloney to introduce two important bills to combat political interference in the 2020 Census. America’s founders included the decennial Census in the Constitution because a representative democracy depends on an accurate count of its people,” said Eshoo. “The Honest Census Communications Act ensures that any attempt to intentionally spread lies about the once-in-a-decade count is met with severe consequences befitting such an egregious crime.”

Click here to read the Census Form Integrity Act.

Click here to read the Honest Census Communications Act.

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Issues: 
116th Congress