NEW FILING: GOP Gerrymandering Guru and High-Level Census Bureau Official Discussed Census Citizenship Question

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Evidence collected during an anti-gerrymandering lawsuit in North Carolina could play a critical role in a separate lawsuit seeking to block a citizenship question from being added to the census. MALDEF and Asian Americans Advancing Justice submitted new evidence from the Thomas Hofeller files to a federal court in Maryland on Friday and will ask U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel to reconsider his earlier ruling on whether the administration conspired with others to intentionally discriminate against Latinos and noncitizens. 

The new evidence includes a 2015 personal email from a top U.S. Census official named Christa Jones to Republican operative Thomas Hofeller inviting him to submit comments on citizenship during a research and development cycle leading up to the re-engineered 2020 Census. Jones currently is Chief of Staff to the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Hofeller, now deceased, was the chief map-drawer for Republicans in North Carolina and author of a 2015 study recommending a citizenship question be added to the census. The study, recently introduced as bombshell evidence in a census lawsuit in the federal district court in Manhattan, indicates the citizenship question was added to rig the census and district maps to be, in Hofeller’s words, “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” 

The 2015 study and emails were obtained by Common Cause from Hofeller’s daughter through the discovery process in Common Cause’s anti-gerrymandering lawsuit, Common Cause v. Lewis, which goes to trial in North Carolina this July. Hofeller was also deposed in Rucho v. Common Cause, a challenge to North Carolina’s congressional maps now before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The Hofeller files reveal a Republican plot to manipulate elections by jeopardizing the accuracy of the census and rigging district maps,” said Kathay Feng, national redistricting director for Common Cause. “We know from depositions that Hofeller was shameless in his pursuit of partisan advantage. This new evidence reveals the connection between Hofeller’s partisan motives and the Commerce Department’s thinly veiled attempt to weaponize the census against Latinos and immigrant families.” 

Read Friday’s court filing. 

Read MALDEF’s statement.

Read more on the Hofeller files.