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Senior House Democrats Call on Secretary Ross to Immediately Withdraw Unprecedented Political Appointees at Census Bureau

July 13, 2020
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Today, senior Democrats sent a letter calling on Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to immediately withdraw two recent political appointments to the Census Bureau, Nathaniel Cogley and Adam Korzeniewski.

Today’s letter is signed by Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney; Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Chairman Rep. Jamie Raskin; Subcommittee on Government Operations Chairman Rep. Gerald E. Connolly; Vice Chair Rep. Jimmy Gomez, and Rep. Yvette D. Clarke.

“We are writing to object to the Trump Administration’s continued efforts to politicize the Census—this time by installing a record number of President Trump’s political appointees at the upper echelons of the Census Bureau, which historically has been run by a cadre of career, non-partisan experts,” wrote the Members.

For decades, the Census Bureau has been run by more than 4,000 career staff and has had no more than five political appointees.  However, on June 23, Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced that the Administration had placed two more highly partisan political appointees into the upper management of the Census Bureau, bringing the total number of political appointees at the Census Bureau to six. 

According to press reports, since their arrival at the Census Bureau, Mr. Koreniewski and Mr. Cogley have “repeatedly questioned the need for census operations that focus on accurately counting the nation’s hardest-to-reach residents.”

“Unfortunately, this is only the latest example of the Trump Administration’s politicization of the Census,” wrote the Members.  “Even more troubling, the two individuals appointed to the Census Bureau, Mr. Korzeniewski and Mr. Cogley, have engaged in highly partisan—and in some cases extremely questionable—activities that make them unsuitable for positions running the Census Bureau or executing the 2020 Census.”

For example, last year Mr. Koreniewski was a paid political consultant for Joseph Saladino, a YouTube personality with a history of racist depictions of Black people and other extremely troubling activity.  Mr. Cogley is a political scientist who wrote several op-eds criticizing the impeachment of President Trump and tweeted repeatedly about Democratic primaries.

“A successful Census depends on the Bureau’s ability to conduct its activities in a professional, impartial, and non-partisan manner.  For these reasons, past Administrations historically have limited the number of political appointees within the Bureau,” added the Members.  “Breaking with this precedent and installing more political appointees—particularly those with such starkly partisan backgrounds as Mr. Cogley and Mr. Korzeniewski—threatens the Bureau’s responsibility to successfully execute a full, fair, and accurate 2020 Census.”

If Secretary Ross does not remove Mr. Cogley and Mr. Korzeniewski, the Members requested that he produce documents by July 24, 2020, that explain why these new positions are necessary, why these responsibilities should be carried out by political appointees rather than civil servants, and why the American taxpayers should be forced to pay for their salaries.

Click here to read today’s letter.

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