For Release: February 13, 2009
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or
or [email protected]
Is a Constitutional Crisis Pending?
Politicization of Census Hints Obama Scandal is in the Making
Washington, D.C. - Commerce Secretary-designate Judd Gregg's abrupt withdrawal implies a constitutional crisis involving the 2010 Census my be pending, says Mychal Massie, chairman of the Project 21 black leadership network.
"One of the principal jobs of the Commerce Secretary is to conduct a census every 10 years that will decide voting districts and in part creates a new political playing field. Senator Gregg seems to have recognized that the White House wants to usurp this power and rightly wanted nothing to do with it," said Massie. "Senator Gregg's act should be seen as a wake-up call to America that strong oversight is needed over the census process lest it be abused for partisan gain."
In a statement announcing his withdrawal from consideration for Commerce Secretary, Senator Gregg said, "I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me."
Earlier this month, Obama Administration officials said the director of the Census would report directly to the White House, perhaps to presidential chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Administration officials have since tried to play down the proposed relationship after it caused controversy.
While serving in Congress, Emanuel chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In a 2006 interview on issues regarding the upcoming Census with USA Today, he said "if you think redistricting is always partisan and political, which it is, it's going to be on steroids this time." In a commentary published by Politico, Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC) wrote that this restructuring of authority regarding the Census "is a naked political power grab and transparently partisan" that "undermines a constitutionally-obligated process that speaks to the very heart of our democracy."
"Personally, I was surprised that Senator Gregg didn't recognize the initial offer to run the Commerce Department for what it was from the beginning," added Project 21's Massie. "I believe it was little more that an attempt by Obama to further weaken his opponents by using the senator both as cover - as he did in Monday's press conference - and to further consolidate partisan domination of the Senate by his party in having the seat filled with a politically-weak social liberal and a fiscal moderate. I'm glad Senator Gregg took the honorable road and is returning to the Senate. I only hope that his action will bring the insight and scrutiny that is necessary to keep ensure the Census is free of political influence."
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21's website at www.project21.org/P21Index.html.