Census documents obtained by the nonprofit Brennan Center for Justice show officials at the Census Bureau chaffed at directives from the Trump administration to influence the 2020 U.S. census.
In an email obtained by the Brennan Center, senior census officials discussed the “unusually high degree of engagement in technical matters, which is unprecedented” from the Commerce Department, which oversees the census.
Census officials listed five areas of the population count that they wished to discuss with former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: completion of the census’s Nonresponse Followup Operation, filling out missing items on the forms, the bureau’s post-collection process, the census’s policies on protecting privacy and the production of census data.
Speaking to The New York Times, former Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt said these emails indicated an immense pushback against political interference.
“This was a very, very strong commitment to independence on their part,” Prewitt told the Times. “They said, ‘We’re going to run the technical matters in the way we think we ought to.’”
When reached by the Times, Ross said he could not recall if he ever saw the memorandum drafted by the census officials.
Other federal documents obtained by the Brennan Center showed that Ross planned on calling Republican governors to ask that they share their administrative records with the census in order to “enhance the frame from which citizenship status is determined.”
According to the Brennan Center, they were unable to find evidence that similar calls were planned for Democratic governors.
The Hill has reached out to the Census Bureau for comment on the documents obtained by the Brennan Center.