Statisticians join criticism against Census Bureau hires
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The world’s largest statisticians group added to a chorus of criticism against the hiring this week of two men to top positions at the U.S. Census Bureau, saying their appointments conflict with the agency’s mission to deliver accurate data to the public.
The American Statistical Association said the appointments earlier this week of Nathaniel Cogley and Adam Korzeniewski to top posts even though they have little experience at the agency “are in direct conflict with the bureau’s mission to ensure proper, accurate, and timely delivery of statistical information to the public.”
Cogley, a political science professor at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, who wrote a series of opinion pieces against the impeachment of President Donald Trump, was named a deputy director for policy. Korzeniewski, a former campaign consultant to the pro-Trump YouTube personality known as “Joey Salads,” was picked as a senior adviser to the deputy director for policy.
The statisticians association said its board of directors was “deeply troubled” by the appointments since Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham “provided no justification for the new positions, description of duties, or qualifications of the appointees.”
“The Census Bureau’s addition of two political appointees to its top ranks undermines the work of the Census Bureau and federal statistical agencies because of the lack of transparency and justification, as well as the perception—if not reality—of improper political influence,” said the association, which has 19,000 members in academia, government, research, and business.
A spokesman for the Census Bureau didn’t immediately respond to an email inquiry seeking comment Friday.
The Census Bureau currently is in the middle of its largest operation — the 2020 census which will determine $1.5 trillion in federal funding and how many congressional seats each state gets. In a statement announcing the appointments on Tuesday, Dillingham said the appointees would help ensure a complete and accurate head count of every U.S. resident.
Thomas Wolf, a counsel with the Brennan Center for Justice, said the appointments raise concerns that the Trump administration may try to violate long-standing protections ensuring that data is kept confidential and secure.
“If the Administration tries this, it will fail,” Wolf tweeted.
Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said the appointments were another attempt by the Trump administration to politicize the bureau after failing in court to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
A filing in that court battle on Thursday shows that the Department of Commerce and civil rights groups have reached a settlement after a federal judge last month agreed to impose financial sanctions against the Trump administration for failing to produce hundreds of documents during litigation over the citizenship question. The court filing didn’t say how much in fees and costs the department would be paying the civil rights groups.
Neither the Department of Commerce nor the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the civil rights groups involved, responded to email inquiries about the settlement.
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By MIKE SCHNEIDER