DOWNTOWN – Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, says the files of a dead man show that President Donald Trump and his administration are trying to keep minorities from being counted in the upcoming census.
Clay weighed in Tuesday on the files belonging to late Republican strategist Thomas Hofeller, who advised Trump’s team on census-related matters. After he died, Hofeller’s files made it into public view. It has been widely reported that those papers included a 2015 study encouraging the use of a question about citizenship in the coming census.
It said such a question would “create a structural electoral advantage that would benefit Republicans and non-Hispanic Whites.”
Much of the reporting cited by Clay was done by the New York Times, which also reported that the Justice Department has denied that Hofeller’s research had anything to do with the decision to put the citizenship question into the census. Justice officials have said it would help to enforce the Voting Rights Act.
The question has been challenged in court, and the Supreme Court has already heard arguments on the matter. Justices are expected to rule this month on whether it can be placed in the census material.
Clay says he had been calling on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to resign since March. Ross’ Commerce Department oversees the Census Bureau, and he is accused of soliciting the Justice Department to make favorable statements about the need for the citizenship question. Now Clay is joining a chorus of Democrats saying Ross was simply trying to make it easier for Republican-friendly state legislatures to gerrymander districts and provide an advantage over Democrats in future elections.
“Secretary Ross has not only lied to Congress and the American people repeatedly, he was a willing participant in this shameful attempt to disguise a deceitful and discriminatory effort to disenfranchise millions of non-white Americans,” Clay said in a statement.
Clay said Hofeller, whose name was misspelled as “Hefler” throughout his office’s release to the media, was an accomplice in that effort. He said the Supreme Court should look at the newly obtained evidence before ruling on the citizenship question.
“I urge the Supreme Court to take this new, critical evidence into consideration as they prepare to render a decision on the unconstitutional, damaging and divisive citizenship question,” Clay is quoted as saying in the statement. “The Constitution requires us to count all persons in this country. And we must carry out that duty without fear of favor to achieve a complete count for Census 2020.”