Oversight Committee Updates Members on Census Investigation

Nov 12, 2019
Press Release
Barr and Ross Continue to Obstruct, Even After Losing in Supreme Court and Being Held in Contempt

Washington, D.C. (Nov. 12, 2019)— Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Acting Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, released a memo updating Committee Members about the status of the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Trump Administration’s illegal effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

Before he passed away, Chairman Elijah E. Cummings directed Committee staff to press forward with this investigation in order to protect the integrity of the Census and inform Congress’s legislative options going forward.

“He strongly believed that the Constitution requires the Census to be conducted in a professional, nonpartisan manner, and he was extremely troubled by the Trump Administration’s efforts to politicize the Census and impair its accuracy,” wrote Maloney.  “He was particularly disturbed by the repeated false statements that Administration officials made to Congress, the courts, and the country.”

Since the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for not complying with the Committee’s bipartisan subpoenas, the White House has refused to narrow its baseless, blanket “protective” assertion of executive privilege, and Barr and Ross have refused to produce any additional documents in response to the subpoenas.

Despite this obstruction, the Committee has continued its investigation over the past several months, obtaining new documents and information from other sources.

For example, the Committee obtained previously undisclosed documents confirming that a member of President Trump’s Transition Team had direct communications about the citizenship question with Thomas Hofeller, the Republican gerrymandering expert who wrote in 2015 that the citizenship question would be “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.”   

The Committee also conducted an interview with the Chief of Staff of the Census Bureau, who recalled that Mr. Hofeller expressed interest in using the citizenship question for “the Republican redistricting effort.”   

“The Committee’s investigation is urgent because it may lead to legislative reforms to safeguard the 2020 Census and to prevent similar maladministration in the future,” wrote Maloney.  “Although the citizenship question will not be added to the 2020 Census, its attempted adoption has raised a number of live concerns relating to potential political influences on the nonpartisan Census process, the Commerce Department’s willingness to compromise an accurate enumeration, and both the Commerce Department’s and DOJ’s willingness to misrepresent their actions in connection with the Census.”

The Committee is continuing its investigation to protect the integrity of the 2020 Census, prevent the improper use of citizenship data gathered pursuant to an Executive Order issued by President Trump on July 11, 2019, and ensure that the Executive Branch does not seek to politicize the Census further. 

Rep. Cummings began investigating the Administration’s effort to add a citizenship question soon after Ross first publicly announced it on March 26, 2018. 

Ross claimed repeatedly—in sworn testimony to Congress, in public statements, and in court filings—that he was adding the citizenship question “solely” at the request of the Department of Justice to help enforce the Voting Rights Act. 

As the Supreme Court concluded, and as the contemporaneous record demonstrates, that explanation was false—a “contrived” and “pretextual” diversion from the true rationale for the decision.

Click here to read today’s memo

116th Congress