Recently, the White House announced that it would appoint a Census Bureau director who would have a direct line to the White House, after “black and Hispanic leaders raised concerns over Commerce Secretary-nominee Judd Gregg’s commitment to core functions of the Census Bureau.”
In the following days, conservatives had a conniption over the new census procedures, claiming it would lead to White House politicization at the behest of chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) even called for an official investigation:
Rep. John Boehner: It just tells me that the census, the counting of the population of the United States is going to be politicized.
Sen. John Cornyn: And to shift it to the White House to me just politicizes the census, which is not something we should be doing.”
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But in an interview with CNBC today, Gregg suggested that the census procedures weren’t much of an issue to him. “The way it was explained to me is that the Census would still report to the Commerce Secretary, but the White House wanted to have a major interest in the census process also,” he said. Gregg even praised the White House:
GREGG: The person that the White House has proposed to manage the Census, Ken Pruitt, did it in 2000 when I was chairman of the Appropriations Committee that had oversight over Commerce Dept. And I thought he did an excellent job. So I thought the people were going to be in place to do a pretty good census.
When CNBC asked if he “didn’t feel comfortable” with the White House’s involvement, Gregg responded, “I actually hadn’t concluded as to how that was going to play out, to be honest. I thought that when I go there I could probably straighten that out if it was a problem.” Watch it: