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Count Rep. Michele Bachmann as unwilling to be counted in the census

July 23, 2009 |  4:44 am

You’d think that after all the endless election hullabaloo over Minnesota trying to fill its second senatorial seat, the North Star State would be sick of counting quibbles.

You’d be wrong.

It turns out that the prospect of trying to count Minnesota’s population in the 2010 Census has turned into a political issue, with Rep. Michele Bachmann standing firm on her stance that she won’t fill out the entire census form.

The reason? The Republican lawmaker says the form violates the public’s constitutionally protected right to privacy. She has said, time and again, that the U.S. Constitution requires her to give the Census Bureau little more than the number of people in her household. Republican representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota

“A lot of Americans -- myself included -- have real concerns about the ultimate protection of our sensitive personal information,” Bachmann said in a statement issued earlier this month.

OK. That seems reasonable. But in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune last month, the paper quoted the lawmaker as saying she was “not encouraging Americans not to fill out the census.”

OK. Now that’s a bit wacky.

Now, let’s put this into perspective. Bachmann has a loooooooong history of making people gasp when she opens her mouth.

It was Bachmann, after all, who appeared on MSNBC’s “Hardball With Chris Matthews” last fall and made a million-dollar mistake:

She alleged that presidential candidate Barack Obama may hold “anti-American” views, and proposed a media investigation into “the views of the people in Congress [to] find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?” (Her rival reaped more than $1 million in donations in less than 72 hours -- but still lost the election.)

But in Washington, as well as in the land of Minnesota nice, Bachmann’s unwavering stance against completing the entire census form -- and not just the parts she wants to fill out -- has folks fuming.

Three of her fellow GOP lawmakers -- Reps. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, John Mica from Florida and Patrick McHenry of North Carolina -- have slammed Bachmann for her stance, saying in a statement that her boycott is illogical and illegal.

And Sen. Amy Klobuchar is stepping forward to urge Minnesotans to fill out the form. The Democrat pointed out that Minnesota could potentially lose a congressional seat if the census results are inaccurately low.

“It’s important that every Minnesotan is counted, so we get our fair share of congressional seats and federal funding,” Klobuchar said in a statement.

Bachmann isn’t swayed. Instead, she’s cosponsored a bill (HR-3131) that would make filling out the census form a voluntary act and only require four tidbits of data: name, date, contact information and the number of people living or staying at the same address.

Given how hard-hit state budgets have been this year by the recession, and how desperate lawmakers are to funnel federal aid back home, good luck getting folks on board with this one.

-- P.J. Huffstutter

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Photo: Bachmann at the Republican National Convention in 2008. Credit: Associated Press