Like previously noted, while The Washington Post report last week said that Commerce Department Inspector General Peggy Gustafson’s letter to Dillingham said whistleblowers exposed pressure by two political appointees to rush a faulty report as part of Trump’s effort to erase undocumented immigrants from apportionment of House seats, they pointed to pressure from the top as well.
“Several whistleblowers at the bureau told Gustafson that Dillingham had categorized the report as the bureau’s ‘top priority,’ regardless of the data’s accuracy,” The Post reported. According to the report, Gustafson warned she’d be ready to question him under oath if necessary. It’s unclear if that interview ever happened, but what is clear is that Dillingham is out on Wednesday. Replacing him in the interim is Ron Jarmin, a longtime career official at the agency and current deputy director.
“News about Dillingham comes days after Justice Department attorneys confirmed to a federal judge in a court order that the Trump administration has officially given up on trying to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the first 2020 census results,” NPR reported. But these political appointees’ departures aren’t enough to fix their damage. In a letter to Biden, U.S. Sen Brian Schatz of Hawaii told the president-elect that “[i]t is imperative that your administration prioritizes fixing the 2020 Census and preventing future politicization”:
“In addition, your administration should request adequate funding for the Census Bureau in the years leading up to the 2030 Census,” Schatz continued. “These critical years will allow the Census Bureau to refine and reform their internal processes for data collection, processing, and publication. And it will give the agency time to undo the damaging politicization by this administration in preparation for the next decennial census.”
Other lawmakers are also supportive of fixes to the count following Biden’s inauguration. In her statement previously calling for Dillingham’s resignation, Politico reported that New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said that “[a]s President Biden begins his presidency, undoing the harm President Trump levied against the census should be at the top of the list, and I will be a ready and willing partner on those efforts.”