My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Why was a convicted felon employed in a Census Bureau managerial position?

If Thom Gruenig (who was just killed by Alaska police after apparently killing his own mother) was a convicted felon, why was he working as a Field  Supervisor for the Census Bureau? Is this yet another failure in the Census Bureau’s background check system?

Here’s his online resume (Click anywhere on it for a more legible version):


From the Anchorage Daily News:

Court records indicate Thom Gruenig was charged in Fairbanks in 1995 with burglary and second-degree theft. He was convicted on the felony theft charge and has not been charged in a criminal case since. Kathryn Gruenig appeared to have no criminal history.

From the Fairbanks Daily News:

He was born Earryn Depace Wylie, but had his name legally changed to Thom DePace Wylie Gruenig in 1997. Gruenig had been going by that name for about 12 years, but was ordered by a judge to put all his legal documents under one name in 1996 following a conviction for felony theft for burglary.

Gruenig pleaded no contest to stealing $30,000 worth of computer equipment from a UAF building with two other men in 1992. He was sentenced to 18 months probation, which he completed successfully, according to court records. He had no other criminal record.

MyTwoCensus will soon get to the bottom of this…

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17 Responses to “MyTwoCensus Investigation: Why was a convicted felon employed in a Census Bureau managerial position?”

  1. Anonymous CL Says:

    A few points:

    - There are supervisor positions, and there are manager positions. Supervisor positions (Field Operations Supervisors and Office Operations Supervisors) have more hiring requirements than the lower positions (Crew Leader, CL Assistant, Enumerator, and Clerk), but not as many requirements as manager positions (Assistant Manager for each department in each Local Census Office, and overall Manager for each office). So, to be entirely accurate, this guy claimed (his online resume is not by itself sufficient proof) to be in a supervisory position — so the headline should be “Why was a convicted felon allegedly employed in a Census Bureau supervisory position?”, instead of “Why was a convicted felon employed in a Census Bureau managerial position?”.

    - This guy specifically claimed to have been working since July 2009 as an FOS for the Remote Alaska project. I find that to be very dubious, since the Remote Alaska enumeration is scheduled to occur from late January 2010 through the end of April 2010. As an Alaskan newspaper said in July 2009, “Census Day for most of the country is April 1. But the bureau plans to get an early start in remote Alaska so census takers can avoid spring break-up and catch villagers before they leave to hunt or fish in warmer weather.” Perhaps he was told he would be promoted to that position but had been given little or no work to do until January 2010, and has just been waiting around collecting unemployment until then. He theoretically could’ve been a supervisor on Group Quarters Validation too, but that was only Sept-Oct 2009, and the FOSes for Group Quarters projects are being referred to as Group Quarters Supervisors (GQSes) to distinguish them from the FOSes that handle the non-GQ side of things. So, there doesn’t seem to be any good explanation for that being on his resume with that timespan, unless there’s something significant I don’t know about what’s been going on with the Census in Alaska.

    - The other claim on his resume, two items down, of being a Crew Leader from March to May 2009, is much more plausible. That is an accurate timeframe for him to have been a CL on Address Canvassing. The phone number listed in that item, 907-249-2900, is an accurate phone number for within the sole Alaska census office in Anchorage.

    - He does seem to have somehow managed to become a Census employee (at least as a CL, even if the Remote Alaska FOS claim looks fishy) despite his criminal record. It’s likely that his record was known from the background check and they chose to hire him anyway, as the crime did happen 17 years ago and he’s been done with probation for about 12 years (they primarily care about the past 10 years; that’s all the application form asks about), and they are allowed to make case-by-case evaluations. It is harder to find Census workers for Alaska (so they pay a much higher wage for enumerators there, $25/hr; the only other areas that come close are the DC area at $20/hr and Bay Area CA at $22/hr), so they could’ve been more likely to consider a case-by-case there, than in other parts of the US where they’ve got more than enough applicants with perfect records.

  2. My Two Census » Blog Archive » MyTwoCensus Investigation Into Why Alaska Man With Felony-Turned Murderer Worked For Census Bureau In Supervisory Role Says:

    [...] week, we discovered that Thom Gruenig was a convicted felon in Alaska turned Census Bureau Supervisor turned murderer, so logically we wanted to know why in the world the Census Bureau hired him…After five days [...]

  3. My Two Census » Blog Archive » Letter To The Editor: Census Bureau Ignores Fingerprinting Problems And Focuses on Name Checks Says:

    [...] of National Fingerprinting, comes in response to our recent post that features questions about why felon/presumed murderer Thom Gruenig was working in a supervisory role for the 2010 Census answered by the Census [...]

  4. Anonymous CL Says:

    Regarding this point from my post last month: “This guy specifically claimed to have been working since July 2009 as an FOS for the Remote Alaska project. I find that to be very dubious, since the Remote Alaska enumeration is scheduled to occur from late January 2010 through the end of April 2010.”

    I have confirmed the full timeline of the Remote Alaska project. Staff for that project were not selected until November-December 2009, training began in December 2009, and field work will occur in January-April 2010.

  5. Cynthia Says:

    Good work Anonymous CL, I do think, as you point out, it is feasible that he did work on early field operations, as a CL. It is unfortunate, that he was able to do any work on the US Census.

  6. gw holland Says:

    here’s a tragedy. I worked as a census employee in 2006 as a crew leader assistant.

    I applied again for this year. I got 27 out of 28 on the test. I am ashamed i missed one, but i got careless. Still, probably good enough to be hired especially with my positive work record.

    Now I get a letter saying that the FBI has made “a tentative match” between me and somebody in the FBI criminal database. I have never been convicted of any crime. I do not even know what crime they think I might have committed—there is no way to get that info. This is freedom in America today. Guilty until proven innocent.

    So now i am being cheated out of income because of god knows what…. What happened to being able to face your accuser? Innocent until proven guilty???

    I hope this exposes the government to a major lawsuit.

    My only option is to mail in my fingerprints at my own $18 fingerprints and hope there is still a job available in 8-10 weeks after they do whatever they are going to do.

    This is wrong. Anybody have any thoughts? I can’t be the only person experiencing this….


  7. CensusRA Says:

    gw holland, call your local census office. They can do the fingerprints for you and send them back to Washington, for free. Do it now; most hiring takes place in March and April. Good luck.

  8. gw holland Says:

    thanks, censusRA

  9. Frank Gemeinhardt Says:

    Time to begin a resistance. By refusing to answer the intrusive questions on the Census form we can send a message to the Federals that we too have a right to privicy.
    Almost everything they say about the Census is a lie. The information is routinely shared with all sorts of federal agencies…IRS,FBI, etc. Your identity is easily discovered and therefore
    ALL your most private information is exposed.
    The White House has taken over the supervision of the Census and are hiring thugs from ACORN(Don’t believe the News on that)
    We know they will “Adjust” the numbers anyway, so why play in thier farce?
    I want to know how is it a woman can kill the child in her womb under a Right to Privacy while we must tell the FEDERAL government how many bathrooms we have? Do we not also have a Right to Privacy?
    When the send you the form….RESIST
    When the send an ACORN Thug to your home…call the cops and RESIST
    When the supervisor shows up….call them again and RESIST
    the can’t arrest us all…Plus they are afraid that a court fight will expose the lies.

  10. ANON Says:

    The entire hiring process is a mess. I worked for the Baltimore Data Capture Center- employees were working prior to background checks even coming back. Trust me, Thugs, Acorn Workers, people with assault/theft on their records…….and I know for a fact that they were people fired for stealing. I also know that there were 2 background checks stolen off someones desk……..great place to work……and just remember this is a place were your private information is going, not to mention- this is all being funded by the American Tax payer.

  11. jessica Says:

    I want to know figures on how many felons are actually in the US. forgotten here is the COST of innocent until proven guilty.. is you’re guilty until you fork over five grand to a lawyer that will encourage a plea bargain.. very few cases actually go to jury trial.. imagine 8 months in a cell until you get your day because you cant post bond.. and drunken witness hearsay is admissable.. the odds are against the poor.. then try and get a job after the felony is given.. 9.00 an hour is 1.85 over minimum wage- the amount an entry level census worker makes.. and you think expungement is free or pardons are common? easy to point fingers against the evil bad felons because your mommy had the cash to bail you out of trouble at a young age.. not everone is an angelic representation of the whole.. If it was so, all republicans are evil- just look at Nixon as your role model. and p.s. I voted for McCain.

  12. Dhawn Says:

    I just saw this and had to comment. As for Anonymous CL…you should really check your facts before you post something. I worked with this individual who murdered his mother here in Fairbanks. I can verify he was employed during last spring during Ad Can…but more importantly, can definitely verify that he, and I were indeed employed as Field Operations Supervisors for Remote Alaska since July 2009. The FOS’ that were initially selected for this operation attended a 3 day orientation training session with our Partnership Specialists in Anchorage the last week of July. We also started our Remote Alaska operations then…and the majority of us started travelling the next week to some of our assigned villages…making initial visits and contact with our Tribal Liasons in their respective communities, testing applicants in villages were we desired to hire crew leaders, and taking applications in others. We also worked the remainder of the year…and continued into this one. Please….get your damned facts straight….and unless you live and work here, and understand not only the logistical challenges of getting Remote done, but the cultural and personal issues associated…then shut the hell up!!

  13. Alaska Supervisor Says:

    I can confirm that the person above “Dhawn” (full name Dhawn Grasse) was indeed a FOS for remote alaska. I can also confirm that as of last month, she was TERMINATED!

    So, there goes your credibility. And as for telling people to, quote, “shut the hell up”??

    Pure class.

  14. My Two Census » Blog Archive » MyTwoCensus Editorial: Fingerprinting changes are long overdue because the media failed to report on the potential problems Says:

    [...] December 2009, I reported that a convicted felon in Alaska was working in a supervisory position for the Census Bureau. This was discovered only after the man killed his mother and then himself. [...]

  15. Ed F Says:

    Alaska Supervisor said: “I can confirm that the person above “Dhawn” (full name Dhawn Grasse) was indeed a FOS for remote alaska. I can also confirm that as of last month, she was TERMINATED!”

    LoL. Good catch. And I notice that “Dhawn” has not chimed in with another long lecture since you posted it. They never do. Me? As a former Alaska resident from 74 to 04, I am willing to cut people a lot of slack when it comes to their past, but stealing 30k in computer equipment is certainly not like shoplifting at the 7/11. I was wondering why he got probation way back then?, 30k in 92 was a big chunk of money.

  16. Once a friend of Thom's Says:

    Comment from another post on MyTwoCensus
    Jen Says:
    August 12th, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Using Thom Gruenig to further your argument that the Census is not screening their potential employees is really a bad move. Thom Gruenig was never fingerprinted and that is why his fingerprints came back as no match. The felony that Thom Gruenig was convicted of occurred at UAF. It was a college prank. All equipment that was taken was turned into the UAF Police department. Felony charges were brought up later because some of the equipment was damaged. Thom Gruenig was never arrested and therefore, never fingerprinted. He was issued a summons to go to court. So faulting the Census for not doing more is a mistake.

  17. smopsorek Says:

    My generation, faced as it grew with a choice between religious belief and existential despair, chose marijuana. Now we are in our Cabernet stage.