Thomas Brunell, a controversial potential pick for a top Census Bureau post, is no longer under consideration for the position, a Department of Commerce spokesperson confirmed to TPM Monday.
Mother Jones had previously reported Monday, citing two unnamed sources informed of his decision, that Brunell had withdrawn. Moments before the Mother Jones report appeared, Terri Ann Lowenthal, a knowledgable Census Bureau observer, told TPM that she had been told Brunell had withdrawn.
When Politico reported in November that the White House was considering Brunell, a University of Texas at Dallas professor, for the position of deputy director, the news brought intense criticism from civil rights advocates, policy wonks and Democratic lawmakers.
Brunell has been a champion of Republican redistricting efforts, and his critics say he lacked the experience for the position, which put him effectively in charge of the Census’ day-to-day operations as it gears up for the 2020 survey. The position does not require Senate confirmation.
Brunell did not respond to TPM’s inquiries.
Vanita Gupta — president and CEO of The Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights, which opposed the selection of Brunell — said in a statement Monday that that the Trump administration should name experienced, qualified, and nonpartisan leadership at the Census Bureau.”
“We renew our commitment to working with current leaders at the Commerce Department and Census Bureau to ensure a fair and accurate census – one that counts all communities equally well,” she said.
Update: This story was updated to include confirmation from the Department of Commerce and a statement from Vanita Gupta.