Cummings, Connolly request investigation into decision to add citizenship question to 2020 Census
Rep. Elijah. E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, requested that the Department of Commerce Inspector General Peg Gustafson investigate the Department’s decision to add a question regarding citizenship status to the upcoming 2020 Census.
“Since Secretary Ross’ decision to add the citizenship question to the 2020 Census, Democrats on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee have sought documents from the Departments of Commerce and Justice, as well as the Census Bureau, in order to conduct oversight on the matter,” the Members wrote. “Unfortunately, our efforts have been frustrated by Secretary Ross’ refusal to comply with our oversight requests, the Department of Commerce’s failure to provide documentation due to ‘ongoing litigation,’ and the failure of Republican Committee Members to join our requests to obtain information, documents, or testimony.”
Cummings and Connolly explained in today’s request that Secretary Ross and other Department officials have repeatedly claimed that they decided to add the citizenship question “solely” in response to a request from the Department of Justice (DOJ) on December 12, 2017. However, documents made public as part of ongoing litigation in New York v. United States Commerce Department demonstrate that the request in fact was initiated by the Commerce Department and coordinated with then-White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon long before the December 2017 request from DOJ.
“Congress and Inspectors General have an obligation to conduct independent oversight of Executive Branch agencies,” the Members wrote. “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.”
The full letter is available here.