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Contact: Brock McCleary (202) 225-2576
McHenry: Is ACORN recruiting census workers or not?
Internal documents at odds with Bureau’s claims to Congress




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Washington, Aug 10, 2009 -

Today, Congressman Patrick McHenry, Ranking Member on the Census Oversight Subcommittee sent a letter to the U.S. Census Bureau concerning its partnership with ACORN.

While the Bureau has reported to Congress that ACORN is not recruiting census workers, internal documents contradict this claim.

Assuming the Bureau can reconcile these contradictions and verify that ACORN has been instructed not to recruit census workers, Congressman McHenry asked, “If ACORN has been singled out in such a manner because of its long criminal history, it begs the question, why are they a national partner in the first place?  If they cannot be trusted to recruit enumerators, it would seem to me that ACORN should be disqualified as a partner altogether.”

Dr. Robert M. Groves
Director
U.S. Census Bureau
4600 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746

Dear Dr. Groves:

    On July 10, 2009, Acting Director Thomas Mesenbourg wrote a letter to Congress clarifying the partnership role of the political advocacy group ACORN, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.  Mr. Mesenbourg stated definitively that ACORN “will not be involved in recruiting or hiring census employees.[1]  However, new information has come to my attention that requires further clarification from the Bureau.

    Documents from the Bureau obtained by Judicial Watch contradict Mr. Mesenbourg’s letter to Congress.  One such document details the organization’s partnership responsibilities, including “Identify job candidates and/or distribute and display recruiting materials.”  Bearing his signature from February 12, 2009, this form indicates that Mr. Mesenbourg approved ACORN’s role as a recruiter of census enumerators.[2]

    Furthermore, promotional materials for the national partnership program indicate very clearly that partners will play a role in recruiting enumerators.[3]

        A) How do you reconcile this evidence with Mr. Mesenbourg’s letter to Congress?

        B) If ACORN has been instructed specifically not to recruit enumerators, please provide 
            the dated correspondence between the Bureau and ACORN that verifies this.

        C) Additionally, please provide a list of other national partners that have been instructed 
            not to recruit enumerators.

        D) If ACORN has been singled out in such a manner because of its long criminal history, 
            it begs the question, why are they a national partner in the first place?  If they cannot 
            be trusted to recruit enumerators, it would seem to me that ACORN should be 
            disqualified as a partner altogether.

    In a document provided to Congress, the Bureau states that partnering organizations would be disqualified if they “could distract from the Census Bureau’s mission.[4]  An internal document from the Bureau states that groups will be disqualified if they “might make people fearful of participating in the Census.[5]

        E) How does the criminal background of ACORN reflect positively on the Census 
            Bureau’s mission?

        F) As a criminal enterprise, how could ACORN in no way distract from the Bureau's 
            mission?

    Please submit written responses to the questions above to the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives by August 24, 2009.  Should you have any questions or need any additional information, please contact Alexis Rudakewych at (202) 225-2576.  

                                                Sincerely,     
                                                    

                                                Patrick T. McHenry
                                                Ranking Member
                                                Subcommittee on Information Policy,            
                                                Census, and National Archives


[1] See Bureau letter to Mr. McHenry (July 20, 2009) 
[2] See Bureau partnership form (February 12, 2009)
[3] See Bureau Form D-3207, Become a 2010 Census Partner, (April 2008)
[4] See 2010 Census Partnership Program, Partner Selection Process and Guidelines, page 2
[5] See Email, Barbara A. Harris, (March 17, 2009)

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