Today, Protect Democracy filed a second suit against the Trump Administration for documents related to their plans for the 2020 Census, following up on the refusal of the Commerce Department and the Office of Management and Budget to comply with FOIA requests filed on November 22, 2017.
On November 22, 2017, Protect Democracy submitted FOIA requests seeking information on communications between political officials in the White House and the Commerce Department and Census Bureau. In addition to seeking communications about the 2020 Census generally, the requests encompassed documents concerning the rumored appointment of Thomas Brunell as deputy director of the Bureau. Brunell has since withdrawn, but his nomination would have been a remarkable break from a history of appointing experienced, professional directors who have not engaged in partisan politics.
Any politicization of the Census, including the content of the 2020 Census, poses a grave danger to core democratic principles: an independent civil service, neutral information to the public and government decision-makers, and the conducting of free and fair elections. The American people deserve transparency into how this core democratic function is being executed, and deserve to know whether any improper interference is happening to distort the results for political ends.
Protect Democracy is filing this suit as part of its ongoing investigation into political interference with the Census Bureau — an agency that must, for the sake of our democracy, remain independent. Documents produced by the Census Bureau are posted here as we receive them. You can read about Protect Democracy’s first suit against OMB and Commerce here.