Dems Seek Inspector General Probe Into Ross’ Census Citizenship Question Move

on May 17, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America

House Democrats have asked the Inspector General for the Commerce Department to investigate Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. 

Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) — the top Dems on the House Oversight Committee and its subcommittee on government operations, respectively — sent a letter to Commerce Inspector General Peg Gustafson Tuesday that highlighted the discrepancies between Ross’ congressional testimony about why he added the question and the records produced as part of lawsuits challenging the addition of the question.

Ross this spring claimed the move was driven “solely” by a December 2017 request by the Justice Department, which cited Voting Rights Act enforcement in asking for the question to be added. Internal documents released as the part of the litigation around the question show that Ross himself was eager for the question to be added in the early months of the Trump administration and was pushing for it well before the Justice Department made its request.

In their appearances in front of the committee since the lawsuits were filed, Trump administration officials have pointed to the ongoing litigation has an excuse to stonewall Democrats’ questions.

“We should avoid interfering with ongoing litigation, but we also should not allow the existence of litigation to prevent us from doing our own jobs,” Cummings and Connolly wrote in the letter. “Therefore, we request that your office investigate the Department of Commerce’s process in adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census, whether Secretary Ross and the Department of Commerce meaningfully considered concerns expressed by experts at the Census Bureau, and the extent to which Secretary Ross and other Commerce officials were involved in this decision.”

Read the letter below:

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