Committee Seeks Interview with Census Bureau Chief of Staff After New Evidence Reveals Personal Emails With Republican Gerrymandering Expert

Jun 18, 2019
Press Release
Committee Also Sends New Document Requests to Transition Team and Others Based on Recent Revelations

Washington, D.C. (June 18, 2019)— Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to Christa Jones, the Chief of Staff of the Census Bureau, seeking a transcribed interview after newly discovered evidence showed that she used her personal email to communicate directly with Republican gerrymandering expert Thomas Hofeller regarding the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

“I am writing to request documents from you based on new information the Committee has recently obtained as part of its investigation into the Trump Administration’s pretext for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census,” Cummings wrote. 

The new documents indicate that on January 6, 2015, Jones used her personal email account to send Hofeller emails regarding the Census Bureau’s effort to “evaluate and compare different census content … prior to making final decisions about the content in the 2020 Census.”  The next day, Jones emailed Hofeller again, writing, “This can also be an opportunity to mention citizenship as well.”

Later that year, Hofeller wrote a secret study concluding that adding a citizenship question to the Census “would be advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.”  He later began having direct contacts with the Trump Transition Team regarding the citizenship question.

“You sent both emails from a personal email address, rather than your Census Bureau email address,” Chairman Cummings wrote.  “This use of personal email raises serious concerns and may be in violation of the Federal Records Act, which ensures that official government business is properly preserved and accessible to the American public.”

Cummings requested the interview with Jones on July 8, 2019, and also sought other communications from both her personal and officials email accounts relating to the Census.

In addition to the letter to Jones, the Committee also sent letters requesting documents from Trump Transition Team member Mark Neuman and Trump Transition Team Executive Director Ken Nahigian regarding their communications with Hofeller and others during the transition.

On June 12, 2019, the Committee voted on a bipartisan basis to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for refusing to produce documents in compliance with bipartisan subpoenas relating to the Administration’s secret efforts to add the citizenship question to the Census.  

On the morning of the contempt vote, President Trump made a broad claim of “protective” executive privilege to block the production of all documents required by the Committee’s subpoenas, including over documents that even the Departments would concede are not covered by executive privilege. 

Click here to read the letter to Christa Jones.

Click here to read the letter to Mark Neuman.

Click here to read the letter to Ken Nahigian.

116th Congress