IG Report from Commerce Department on the 2020 Census’ Citizenship Question Addition

The Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Commerce released results of the office’s investigation into allegations against former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that he misrepresented the origins of the citizenship question proposed to be added to the 2020 Census.

The allegations were that:

  • “In depositions and congressional interviews, Justice and Commerce Department officials failed to disclose the substantive public policy role of political operative, Dr. Thomas Hofeller, in adding the [citizenship] question to the 2020 Census”; and
  • “In concealing the contribution of Dr. Hofeller, Justice and Commerce Department officials purposely obscured the impermissible racial and partisan motivations for adding a citizenship question—to be ‘advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites’ and to ‘clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats’—in both the Justice Department’s December 2017 letter requesting the citizenship question and the Commerce Department’s March 2018 memorandum adding the question.”

In the office’s July 6, 2021 report, the IG noted that the “investigation was unable to establish that Dr. Thomas Hofeller had a substantive public policy role in the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Census,” but that “Secretary Ross misrepresented the full rationale for the reinstatement of the citizenship question during his March 20, 2018, testimony before the House Committee on Appropriations and again in his March 22, 2018, testimony before the House Committee on Ways and Means.”

The IG’s investigation “was presented to and declined for prosecution by the Public Integrity Section of the DOJ’s Criminal Division.”

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