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Census Bureau adds 2 political appointees to ranks, rankling Democrats

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Washington — The Trump administration announced Tuesday two new political appointees are joining the policy team at the Census Bureau, additions that Democrats say are part of an attempt by the administration to politicize the ongoing census.

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced Tuesday that Nathaniel Cogley would be joining the agency as deputy director for policy and Adam Korzeniewski would be working as his senior adviser.

Dillingham said in a statement their support "will help the Census Bureau achieve a complete and accurate 2020 Census and study future improvements."

According to his personal website, Cogley worked at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, as the head of the Department of Government, Legal Studies and Philosophy and as an assistant political science professor. The Census Bureau said Korzeniewski has "exemplary military and public service experience" and has experience with "prior Census Bureau fieldwork." He previously worked as a campaign consultant to Joseph Saladino, a controversial YouTube prankster who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2019. 

The Census Bureau's hiring of the two new political appointees drew criticism from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, the Democratic chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

"The decision to create two new senior positions at the Census Bureau and fill them with political operatives is yet another unprecedented attempt by the Trump administration to politicize the 2020 Census," Maloney, of New York, said, adding that the administration should "immediately stop using the Census for political gain and focus on the needs of our nation by ensuring a fair and accurate count."

The 2020 census has been mired in controversy that started with the Trump administration's attempt to ask about citizenship on this year's questionnaire. The Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, said information about citizenship was needed to ensure better enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, but the move was challenged in court. Last year, the Supreme Court blocked the Commerce Department from adding the citizenship question to the 2020 census, ruling the Trump administration did not provide an adequate explanation for including the question.

The coronavirus pandemic has further roiled the census, as Dillingham announced in March that the Census Bureau would be suspending census field operations. The bureau said earlier this month that starting in mid-July, a limited number of census offices will begin interviewing households that have not yet responded.

Information from the decennial population count is used to allocate billions of federal dollars and determine the number of congressional seats each state has.

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