In 2009, in the earliest weeks of President Barack Obama‘s administration, the White House made the controversial decision to take the unprecedented step of moving the Census Bureau from control of the commerce secretary over to the White House ahead of the decennial 2010 census.
Conservatives sounded alarm bells. “It takes something that is supposedly apolitical like the census, and gives it to a guy who is infamously political,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) of then White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
“Requiring the Census director to report directly to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is a shamefully transparent attempt by your administration to politicize the Census Bureau and manipulate the 2010 Census,” read a letter addressed to Obama authored by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) andPatrick McHenry (R-NC).
While Republican officeholders were the primary sources of statements expressing concern over the move, some non-partisan analysts were also unnerved by the move. “The last thing the census needs is for any hard-bitten partisan (either a Karl Rove or a Rahm Emanuel) to manipulate these critical numbers,” wrote University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato in an email to Fox News at the time. “Partisans have a natural impulse to tilt the playing field in their favor, and this has to be resisted.”
The White House dismissed the concerns of conservatives which were, indeed, unfounded insofar as they related to the 2010 census. But the fears of some that the Census Bureau could be corrupted by the imperatives of the political operatives in the White House was today proven accurate.