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.

Posts Tagged ‘Democrats’

How will big GOP wins at the state level affect redistricting?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

The media is still focusing on the big GOP wins in the House of Representatives. Only a few commentators have noticed the huge gains that Republicans have made at the state level. Here’s some analysis from the Wall Street Journal:

Gains in eight states—including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin— gave the GOP control of the governor’s office and both legislative chambers. Republicans will be in charge there when drawing new congressional maps, something every legislature must do following each 10-year federal census. Minnesota could join the list depending on the outcome of a governor’s race that was still too close to call as of Wednesday evening.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Republicans now hold the largest share of state legislative seats—53%—since 1928. The party added at least 680 seats Tuesday, the largest gain by either party since 1966, the bipartisan group said.

The authority to carve out districts helps create safe congressional seats for the party in charge. Only a handful of states put the redistricting process in the hands of an independent commission.

“We should be able to pick up at least two-dozen seats,” said Frank Donatelli, the chairman of GOPAC, a political-action committee formed in 1979 to fight for state-level Republicans. “We are in better shape than at any time since the 1960s.”

Democrats didn’t gain control of an additional chamber in any state.

MyTwoCensus Scoop: Census Bureau regional partnership coordinator running as a Democrat for New York State Assemblyman while still on the job

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

UPDATE: At 10:00, a credible e-mail came in to the MyTwoCensus inbox stating that Mr. Dominguez was upset at his office. At 10:50, I spoke with Steve Jost, Associate Director of the Census Bureau, who informed me that Mr. Dominguez is no longer employed by the Census Bureau. Presumably, he was fired as a result of this scoop.

Rafael Dominguez, a New York-based regional partnership coordinator for the US Census Bureau since early 2008 has filed a petition to run as a Democrat for Assemblyman for New York’s 82nd District. Yet, as Census Bureau Associate Director Steve Jost recently commented on a MyTwoCensus.com post, the Hatch Act, “prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activities while on duty.”

The problem is not that Mr. Dominguez is running for office, the problem is that he is running for office while an employee of the federal government and campaigning on the Census Bureau/taxpayer’s dime. MyTwoCensus.com has also learned that other Census Bureau employees who are underlings of Mr. Dominguez have been performing campaign activities while on official Census Bureau duty. These employees include other partnership assistants in the New York area:  Ed LaFranco and Adrian Tapia.

New Yorkers should be entitled to a partisan-free census, and Mr. Dominguez’s overt Democratic Party affiliations require the Census Bureau to fire him immediately. MyTwoCensus has subsequently learned that Mr. Dominguez used his (massive) budget for partnership materials to fund events and organizations that will benefit his political campaign.

Admittedly, it will be difficult to prove that partnership  funding was diverted for specific purposes that relate to the campaign, but such activities should immediately be scrutinized and audited more thoroughly than they already are. (MyTwoCensus.com has learned that the New York Census Bureau’s partnership office is currently undergoing a major audit. Perhaps this audit is directly tied to Dominguez and his misuse of funds, but more likely it has to do with rampant excesses by the Census Bureau’s partnership specialists.)

Here is the photographic evidence of the campaign activities that Mr. Dominguez has been engaged in while a Census Bureau employee:

Note the Census Bureau’s extensive partnership budget that includes $120 million from the stimulus package:

Picture 14

RNC continues deceptive mailers because Obama hasn’t picked up his pen yet…

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

As usual, the Republicans and the Democrats have both made serious errors. 1. The Republicans think they are above the law and continue to send out deceptive mailers. 2. President Obama has not picked up his pen to sign a recently changed bi-partisan supported bill into law. Come on Barack, pick up the pen already! Thanks to Ryan Knutson of Pro Publica for continuing to keep this matter alive, even though it should have been forgotten by now:

The latest legislation [1] intended to stop deceptive “census” mailers [2] passed both chambers of Congress [3] earlier this month, but President Barack Obama still hasn’t signed it into law, and the Republican National Committee is still sending out mailers that the legislation is meant to stop.

Our inboxes continue to receive a deluge of e-mails from people across the country who are still getting fundraisers from the RNC [2] labeled  “Census Document,” a tactic that we’ve been following since February [4]. In an attempt to stop the practice, Congress passed a bill in March [5] requiring that any mailer with the word “census” on the envelope must also include a clearly labeled return address to prevent confusion about whether it’s really from the 2010 Census.

But the RNC got around [1] that requirement by moving the word “census” to a document inside the envelope — yet it was still visible from the outside through the envelope’s clear plastic window.

That move irritated even Republicans. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., proposed legislation [6] to close the loophole. “I would say to people who raise money, whether it’s the Republican National Committee or the Democratic National Committee or [anybody else], don’t use the Census,” he said at the time. “Because it’s wrong.”

The bill passed the House in April, and it breezed through [3] the Senate unanimously on May 5. But without Obama’s signature, it’s still not the law — thus the RNC mailers continue.

Protectionism 101: Congressman probes why 2010 Census swag is made outside the US

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Though I’ve written about waste for some time on this site, only in recent weeks has my attention turned to 2010 Census swag, particularly because I learned that it has been wasted in large quantities. Now,  Massachusetts Congressman Stephen Lynch, a Democrats, want to investigate why so many 2010 Census promotional materials weren’t made in the US of A. Here’s the scoop from the Boston Herald:

An outraged Massachusetts lawmaker is calling for a congressional probe of the federal government’s purchase of foreign-made census propaganda with taxpayer cash, the Herald has learned.

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-S. Boston) is requesting an investigation into the spending by the U.S. Census Bureau on the heels of a Herald report revealing that census swag including hats, T-shirts, toys and other trinkets were made in China and Honduras.

“It is deeply troubling that with 10 percent unemployment the U.S. Census Department, whose central responsibility is to locate Americans, could not locate an American company to provide its hats and T-shirts,” Lynch said. “This does not inspire confidence. We have contacted the Subcommittee on the Census and have asked them to investigate.”

The Herald reported yesterday that boxes of census promotional materials distrubuted in Boston were made overseas.

Census officials said that $42 million was spent on 67 million promotional items as part of a $1 billion ad blitz. A Census spokeswoman said the bureau bought the items from 2,300 American companies. She conceded that some of the companies may have bought materials from overseas companies.

Census officials said assembly, embroidery, stitching, silk screening and other craft work was done in America and that all payments were made to U.S. companies.

The flap has infuriated labor union officials, who blasted the federal government for not doing more to ensure that products paid for with American tax dollars were made in the United States.

The census promotional goods were part of a massive effort to encourage citizens to fill out their 2010 census forms. Much of the promotional material was shipped to local government buildings for distribution to volunteers and part-time workers.

As of last Monday, more than 72 percent of Americans had participated in the census by mail, matching the rate from the last census in 2000.

Ed O’Keefe: House passes new ‘census mailer’ bill; Michael “Scumbag” Steele is rebuked.

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

H/t to the venerable Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post for the following…Looks like it only took a small piece of legislation and little more than 24 hours for Congress to make a bipartisan renunciation of the idiocy and ignorance of scumbag RNC Chairman Michael Steele and the rest of the “I don’t care about the opinions and values of mainstream Republican elected leaders” Republican National Committee.:

The House unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that closes loopholes in the “census mailer” law in an effort to stop the Republican National Committee from using the word “census” on fundraising mailers.

Lawmakers moved quickly to close the loophole as the Census Bureau continues its operations of the 2010 Census.

The bill, introduced Tuesday by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), removed any ambiguity from the law signed by President Obama this month that makes it illegal to use the word “census” on an envelope or document without a disclaimer stating that the sender is not associated with the U.S. government.

Issa’s bill clarifies that it’s illegal to see the word “census” without a disclaimer if it’s visible through the envelope or on an outside cover or wrapper or on the envelope itself.

Issa, a reliable critic of the Obama administration and Democratic lawmakers, introduced the bill and took a swipe at GOP leadership on Wednesday morning, saying their mailings “violated the spirit” of the original law.

“I would say to people who raise money, whether it’s the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, other political entities or nonpolitical entities who simply want to have their envelopes open to raise money or get their message out, don’t use the census,” Issa said. “Don’t even think about using the census because it’s wrong. If something is deceptive, then it’s wrong under the law we already passed.”

Democrats and minority and senior citizen rights groups had blasted the RNC and the National Republican Congressional Committee for sending such solicitations earlier this year.

MyTwoCensus Investigation: How many politicians got jobs for their kids or other relatives with the Census Bureau?

Friday, March 26th, 2010

I know that I, along with millions of other people who applied for 2010 Census jobs (Full disclosure: I did this to investigate the hiring process for this blog) never received so much as a call to come in for an interview. Yet, I have now received three tips via e-mail that relatives of politicians (two Democrats and one Republican) have been hired/are employed by the Census Bureau. This is an official call to action for the Inspector General’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office to launch investigations into whether nepotism or other illegal forms of hiring took place during any phase of 2010 Census operations or at the Census Bureau in general:

MyTwoCensus have been tipped off about the following:

1. Austin Esposito, son of Democratic Senator from Missouri Claire McCaskill. Check out some screenshots from his FACEBOOK page. (Come on dude, you should know to up your privacy settings by now. You’re the son of a Senator! I’m surprised little old non-partisan me is the first person to post these rather than GOP operatives or right-wing bloggers!)

Editor’s Note: I am most concerned about the McCaskill/Esposito connection because there have been so many complaints about a lack of 2010 Census jobs in Missouri.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: A Rare Spell Of Bipartisanship Spells Good News For The 2010 Census

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Since Members of  the House of Representatives face re-election every two years, they are constantly campaigning, and always on the lookout for legislation that may be used to attack them. I suspect the fears of populist discontent and anti-Washington sentiment (perhaps combined with just a tinge of moral values) are what led all but two Republican members of the House of Representatives to support legislation that makes March 2010 “2010 Census Awareness Month.” This show of bipartisanship was unexpected yet welcome.

Even former 2010 Census critic Michele Bachmann (R-MN) jumped on board this movement. This is an excellent first step to combatting anti-census sentiment that has swept the nation in the past few months, coinciding with the growth of the Tea Party movement.

The level of GOP discontent with Michael Steele and the Republican National Committee should not be ignored: Yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously passed a bill, with full GOP support (and even co-sponsored by Republicans Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz) to stop the RNC from sending mailers that misuse the word census.  MyTwoCensus has reported on this issue for months, and we are glad to see GOP officials acknowledging their party leader’s mistakes and holding the RNC accountable for their unethical fundraising methods.

Consequences of the 2010 Census: Redistricting

Friday, February 26th, 2010

There are two major political consequences of the 2010 Census that this site will start to discuss on a more frequent basis. They are redistricting and (re)apportionment. That there are three articles I found today from far-reaching corners of the US that all discuss this topic is a testament to the growing discussion of these issues:

First, some historical background from Florida:

Census to alter political districts

Survey could make district lines more fair

By Abraham Aboraya | February 24, 2010

SEMINOLE COUNTY – It’s 10 simple questions with a decade of implications.

Every 10 years, as per the Constitution, the United States performs a census – a headcount and snapshot of everyone living in the U.S.

The original intent was to make sure that each state got its fair portion of people in the House of Representatives. But that was more than 200 years ago. What does the census mean these days?

The answer may surprise you, as the 2010 census could drastically change the future of politics in Florida – and in Seminole County. This is the first of two articles which will examine how a questionnaire could change the political landscape for the next 10 years, and maybe beyond.

And it all started with a Massachusetts governor in 1812.

The history

Chances are, you’ve never heard of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry. But you’ve probably heard of the term gerrymandering.

Gerry was governor during the 1812 election and was responsible for drawing the voting districts. Gerry drew one district that slithered across the state, in the shape of salamander.

Gilbert Stuart drew a cartoon for the Columbian Centinel’s March 26 issue, and editor Benjamin Russel first coined the term gerrymandering to describe the district.

The name stuck, and now when a district is drawn to keep someone elected, or to keep minorities from gaining representation, that’s what it’s called.

And in Florida, there are some strangely shaped districts.

Florida’s salamanders

In South Florida, Florida Senate District 27 touches the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico through more than 140 miles of Florida.

The seat, held by State Senator Dave Aronberg, touches parts of Palm Beach County, Hendry County, Glades County, Charlotte County and Lee County.

Take a look at Florida House District 29: It starts just off the east coast of Florida in Fellsmere and west Vero in Indian River County, snakes west of Palm Bay into Brevard County, and then reaches up like a finger through Cocoa, Port St. John and Titusville. In one area, it’s surrounded on three sides like a peninsula by House District 32.

“They’re all created in those odd configurations in order to accomplish a certain political result,” said Ellen Freidin, the campaign chair for Fair Districts Florida. “They’re all created to be a Democratic or Republican district. And that’s what we’re trying to change.”

Freidin has been working for nearly the last four years to get enough signatures together to propose two constitutional amendments. This November, Floridians will be asked to vote up or down on Amendments 5 and 6.

Both would make it a constitutional requirement that the Florida House, Florida Senate and U.S. House of Representative districts be drawn along existing city, county and water bodies, when possible.

The heart of the issue, Freidin said, is making elections more fair. Florida has some of the least competitive elections in the country.

In the last decade, only 10 members of the Florida House of Representatives and one Florida senator have been defeated as an incumbent running for re-election.

Republican Ralph Poppell has represented District 29 since the 2002 elections, the first election after the district was redrawn. Aronberg has also represented District 27 since 2002.

“Incumbents almost never lose,” Freidin said. “They’re tailor-made to have the voters in there that would want to vote for one of these people.”

What about the Census?

When the 2010 census is finished, all those Florida districts – all those salamanders – will be redrawn by the Florida Legislature.

That’s a once-in-a-decade opportunity that Fair Districts Florida didn’t want to miss.

Mike Ertel, the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections, said that the salamander districts have been an issue forever.

“The whole purpose of the census, if you look at the core and its beginning, the only reason the census exists is to determine the number of people in congress,” Ertel said. “Everything else they do is an add-on to its core mission.”

Second, some discussions in Illinois to change the redistricting process:

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Illinois Senate Democrats want to take the luck of the draw out of legislative and congressional district lines drawn every 10 years.

They proposed a plan Thursday that would allow a “special master” appointed by two Supreme Court justices of different political parties to draw a map in case of gridlock.

The three maps since the 1970 Constitution have been drafted by the political party whose name was drawn from a hat.

The 2010 Census will show population shifts that require new district lines. Chicago Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul (KWAH’-may RAW’-ool) says his committee’s plan would allow the Legislature first crack at map-drawing.

A Republican plan says sitting lawmakers should not be involved at all.

Voters have to approve any proposal to change the Constitution this fall.

Third, constitutional changes in Alaska:

Associated Press – February 24, 2010 9:04 PM ET

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – The measure calling for a ballot question and constitutional amendment to add 12 seats to Alaska’s 60-seat Legislature appears to be making headway.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed its version of the measure Wednesday, while the House version gained eight cosponsors from both parties in the last two weeks.

The expansion is intended to ease redistricting after the 2010 Census count is in. Through redistricting, rural districts are expected to grow geographically while urban districts shrink to maintain roughly equal population representation. Over the years, the trend has made rural districts harder to manage. Sen. Albert Kookesh’s is the most egregious example, covering about half the state’s land area across nearly 1,000 miles.

President Obama: We can’t move forward until you mail it back

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

A pretty innocuous and straightforward message from El Presidente was just released, so hopefully this won’t get politicized. The major downside here is that the geniuses at ad agency Draftfcb haven’t figured out that people should be able to embed video…so unfortunately you will have to click the link below to find this one…Here’s a press release from the Census Bureau :

President Obama Records Message Urging Participation in 2010 Census

Continuing a White House tradition of strong support for the census
dating back to 1790, President Barack Obama recorded a public service
announcement (PSA) encouraging national participation in the 2010 Census.
The 30-second PSA released today by the U.S. Census Bureau asks every
household to take 10 minutes to answer the 10 questions on the 2010 Census
form and to mail it back.

The PSA and a 20-second version are available now at
<http://2010census.gov/> and will be distributed to television and radio
stations by the National Association of Broadcasters’ Spot Center satellite
feed on Friday, Feb. 19. Stations are encouraged to broadcast the PSA
through April following their standard procedures appropriate for a
national public awareness campaign.

U.S. presidents in office during a decennial census have routinely
spoken in support of the census to encourage participation by all residents
in the country. President Dwight Eisenhower said of the 1960 Census:  “The
prompt, complete and accurate answering should be regarded as one of the
requirements of good citizenship.”

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush recorded a PSA about the rights
and freedoms we enjoy. “One of the ways our Constitution preserves our
rights is to require the government to conduct a census every 10 years. It
helps determine how you’re represented in Congress and what kinds of
government services you find in your community. So be a part of this great
democracy. Answer the census. It counts for more than you think.”

In 2000, President Bill Clinton spoke of the vital importance of the
census. “Behind all those numbers are real lives and real life stories. And
when you put them all together you see the patterns emerge. This is a
profoundly important issue if we want to make good decisions about where
we’re going. We first have to know exactly who we are.”

In addition to speeches and public service announcements, all presidents
serving during decennial censuses — from President William Howard Taft
through President Clinton — have issued a presidential proclamation on or
before Census Day, which has been on April 1 from 1930 to the present. The
10 proclamations can be viewed in the attached video along with images of
other presidential efforts supporting the censuses of 1930, 1990 and 2000.

Message from the President of the United States on the 2010 Census
The White House

“Every 10 years, our Constitution requires the federal government to
conduct a census. This helps determine your representation in Congress, as
well as how federal funds are spent on things like schools and roads, and
where businesses decide to put new stores and factories. So when you get
your census form in mid-March, take about 10 minutes to answer 10 questions
– remembering to include everyone in your household. Because we can’t move
forward until you mail it back.”

Census News Roundup…

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

The story: FoxNews has claimed that Democrats in Ohio are may rig the 2010 Census.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: We urge readers to proceed with caution, as this article is filled with the kind of “Gotcha!” fluff that has made FoxNews so famous. However, FoxNews continues to serve an important role in keeping Democratic administrations on their toes…so we’ll watch this one for a bit.

The Story: Hatian immigrants moving permanently to Florida en masse could positively affect the Sunshine State’s headcount.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: Yup. This is likely. But how many grieving newly arrived Hatians make time for the 2010 Census as their first priority when upon landing in the US?

The Story:  Apparently, the Census Bureau is having trouble finding workers in West Texas.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: Even if West Texas has a low unemployment rate unlike the rest of the nation, there are still many unemployed and competent people out there. The Census Bureau recruiters in this area should be fired because clearly they are incapable of doing their jobs.

The Story: A 2010 Census meeting in Monroe, Louisiana draws sparse attendance.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: The Census Bureau did a great job getting the MEDIA and POLITICIANS to attend an event, but not the PEOPLE. Clearly there is a disconnect here. Will this be indicative of a low number of people returning their Census forms?

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Concerns About The Political Makeup Of Complete Count Committees

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

After reading a report in the Austin Republican Examiner (featured below), MyTwoCensus is extremely concerned by the fact that Complete Count Committees are not always bi-partisan entities with independent non-political voices also serving in leadership capacities. As there have been concerns about a lack of participation in the 2010 Census by Republicans, a charge being led by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), it is all the more important for Republican voices (in this instance) to be present on Complete Count Committees, so rumors about the goals of the 2010 Census and accusations of bias will not exist. While Travis County, where Austin, Texas is located, consistently votes Democratic (64% for Obama compared to 35% for McCain in 2008), there is no good reason why Republicans are not serving as chairs or on the board of the Austin Complete Count Committee.

MyTwoCensus urges any readers who are aware of other instances in which one political party controls a municipal, local, regional, or state Complete Count Committee to please report these problems to us.

Here’s the original op-ed that prompted this investigation:

Are Democrats hijacking the Austin census?

By Brandon Lighton

Census time is upon us yet again, and thankfully we still have at least one government enterprise that has not yet become explicitly partisan. Oh, wait…

“Mayor Lee Leffingwell and County Judge Sam Biscoe joined members of the citizen driven Complete Count Committee to launch the 2010 Census efforts on Monday, November 30, 2009 at City Hall.

The 2010 Census Complete Count Committee is Chaired by Judge Eric Shepperd, Constable Bruce Elfant and Alejandro Ruelas, Managing Partner, LatinWorks.”

So we have the Democrat mayor of Austin and a Democrat County Judge overseeing this operation. But thats okay, right? We still have the committee membes themselves to maintain the integrity of the census. So let’s take a look at those committee members:

Eric Shepperd – Democrat Judge, County Court at Law, Place 2

Bruce Elfant – Democrat Constable

Alejandro Ruelas – Finally, someone who isn’t a candidate. Someone who can balance out the partisan bias of the other committee members. Oh wait, he’s a Democratic Party donor. Oops.

So we have a Democrat mayor, two Democrat judges, a Democrat constable, and a Democratic Party donor to boot. Sound like a recipe for a fair and accurate census to you?

This is just another step in a long trend of Democrats politicizing the census, starting with the Obama administration’s decision to take over the census itself instead of allowing a nonpartisan group to do it like the other 43 presidents have done. When the 2010 census comes out and Democratic constituencies have miraculously gained ground in Austin, at least try to act surprised.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Keep Up The Good Work Dr. Groves!

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

At Dr. Robert M. Groves’ confirmation hearing to become the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, it was reassuring to hear a career statistician and manager discuss his vision for a Bureau that was in great need of reform. However, at that time it was only natural to worry that Groves was simply a man of words who needed to get past what could have been a controversial confirmation process. Four months after making many promises to change the Bureau, Dr. Groves has proven that he follows through with actions.

Despite GOP partisans stalling Dr. Groves’ nomination over concerns that he would bring his political views to the 2010 Census, Dr. Groves’ has proven to a level-headed, fair, honest, transparent, and decisive leader. As he stated yesterday at his first major press conference, he is constantly trying to be persuaded to enter the political fray but fights every day to maintain his independence. Dr. Groves’ rejection of political overtures is what will make his tenure different than those of past Census Bureau leaders.

An excellent Census Bureau director must have superior statistical knowledge, superb management skills, and an ability to answer honestly to both politicians and the public. In his first months in this role, Dr. Groves has succeeded in all of these areas. With his decision to terminate the Census Bureau’s partnership with ACORN, Dr. Groves unequivocally proved himself as a leader who put the Bureau and the people of this nation ahead of the Democrats who supported him from day one and the president who nominated him.

Dr. Groves inherited a Census Bureau that was filled with disorganization, mismanagement, and a lack of foresight. Turning this agency around cannot occur overnight, and MyTwoCensus does not place blame on on Dr. Groves for most failures of the 2010 Census. Though his first 70 days in office have been marked by success and progress, there is still much work to be done with April 1, 2010 only six months away.

ACORN Loses Funding…A Probe Underway?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Just days after MyTwoCensus worried about potential trouble from ACORN as the 2010 Census gets underway, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves severed ties with the organization in its role as a community partner. The Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor (83-7) of withholding millions of federal dollars from ACORN. Here’s the report with some important updated from the Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–Congressional Republicans stepped up calls to end federal funding of Acorn and begin an immediate investigation of possible criminal violations by the community organizational group whose activities have long been criticized by conservatives.

House Republicans wrote President Barack Obama on Tuesday asking him to end federal support for the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, or Acorn. The White House had no immediate comment.

House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., are cosponsoring legislation to bar federal funds for Acorn pending an investigation by Congress, the Justice Department or the Internal Revenue Service.

Acorn spokesman Brian Kettenring said the group’s members are focused on “solving the health-care and foreclosure crises that Rep. Boehner is ignoring. We encourage him to write letters all he likes, but we would also advise him to focus on the real needs of his constituents and the American people.”

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, also urged a close look before Acorn receives another penny of taxpayer money, including any funding through a $787 billion economic stimulus package.

The Senate voted 83-7 on Monday to prevent Acorn from receiving federal housing funds in fiscal 2010, which starts Oct. 1. The move comes after Acorn employees in several cities were videotaped offering tax tips and mortgage-application help to individuals posing as pimps and prostitutes; the applicants actually were conservatives who secretly taped the discussions.

Separately, prosecutors in Florida last week issued warrants for several Acorn employees who allegedly falsified voter-registration records in Florida during the 2008 election.

Acorn has received more than $53 million of direct federal funding since 1994 and likely received more indirectly through federal block grants to states and local governments, House Republicans said. But recent allegations are taking a toll: Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau severed plans to work with Acorn on the 2010 census.

Shelby’s concerns were outlined in letters Tuesday to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and to the inspector general of the Housing and Urban Development Department. Besides the videotapes, Shelby cited reports of Acorn employees’ involvement in voter-registration fraud outside Florida, embezzlement by a relative of Acorn’s founder, and the loss of federal grants after Acorn was found to have improperly used funds for lobbying.

Acorn’s spokesman responded by calling for an investigation into Shelby’s support for financial deregulation, which he said hurt U.S. consumers and contributed to “the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.”

Shelby was one of eight U.S. senators to vote against a 1999 law that loosened Depression-era restrictions on U.S. commercial banks.

A spokesman for the Alabama Republican pointed to Shelby’s efforts to strengthen bank capital standards and overhaul federal mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE), and his receipt of a 2005 public-service award from the Consumer Federation of America.

“Senator Shelby’s record on these matters is clear,” his spokesman said in a statement.

The ACORN Investigations Continue…

Friday, September 11th, 2009

We hate to keep beating this story to a bloody pulp, this is yet another day where ACORN has been featured prominently in the news for its wrongdoings. When I woke up this morning, the following story was the #1 headline on CNN.com:

(CNN) — Two employees at the Baltimore, Maryland, branch of the liberal community organizing group ACORN were caught on tape allegedly offering advice to a pair posing as a pimp and prostitute on setting up a prostitution ring and evading the IRS.

The footage, which appears to have been edited in places, was recorded and posted online Thursday.

The footage, which appears to have been edited in places, was recorded and posted online Thursday.

The video footage — which has been edited and goes to black in some areas — was recorded and and posted online Thursday by James O’Keefe, a conservative activist. He was joined on the video by another conservative, Hannah Giles, who posed as the prostitute in the filmmakers’ undercover sting.

The video shows the pair approaching two women working at the ACORN Baltimore office and asking them for advice on how to set up a prostitution ring involving more than a dozen underage girls from El Salvador.

One of the ACORN workers suggests that Giles refer to herself as a “performing artist” on tax forms and declare some of the girls as dependents to receive child tax credits.

“Stop saying prostitution,” the woman, identified by the filmmaker as an ACORN tax expert, tells Giles. The other woman tells them, “You want to keep them clean … make sure they go to school.” Video Watch tape of alleged advice on prostitution »

Both women appear enthusiastic to help.

Calls to ACORN’s Baltimore offices were not immediately returned Thursday. A local spokeswoman told The Associated Press that both employees seen in the video were fired.

“The portrayal is false and defamatory and an attempt at ‘gotcha journalism,’ ” said Scott Levenson, a spokesman at ACORN’s national offices. “This film crew tried to pull this sham at other offices and failed. ACORN wants to see the full video before commenting further.”

The conservative filmmakers unsuccessfully attempted similar ruses at the group’s offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, California, and New York, Levenson said.

Law enforcement officials in the Baltimore area wouldn’t confirm whether they are investigating the alleged incident at the local ACORN office. However, authorities said that under Maryland law, such undercover video may not be admissible in court as evidence.

CNN attempted to reach O’Keefe and Giles; O’Keefe was not available for comment and Giles canceled an interview scheduled for Thursday.

ACORN — an acronym for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — made headlines last year when Republican groups seized on allegations of voter registration fraud by the group in Florida and several other states, claiming its workers were trying to push the election in Barack Obama’s favor.

On Wednesday, arrest warrants were issued for 11 Florida voter registration workers suspected of submitting false information on hundreds of voter registration cards, according to court documents. The Florida investigation was triggered by ACORN officials who noticed irregularities in forms they were receiving.

Spot Check: ACORN

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

So, the Census Bureau has assured members of Congress that ACORN is NOT involved in the recruiting process for candidates hoping to be among the 1.4 million Americans who will work for the 2010 Census. I decided to contact a bunch of ACORN offices throughout the country and ask them if they could help get me a job to see if this was true. Here’s what I found:

Note: More than half of the ACORN offices I called had phone lines that were no longer active. Some of the e-mail addresses I contacted were also no longer working and bounced back to me. (Hmmm…Do you think that ACORN’s bad publicity during the past yer could have caused the organization to lose just a little bit of non-profit funding? It certainly looks that way to me.)

When I called each office, I said, “Hi, I heard that you could help me get a job with the 2010 Census. What do I have to do?”

Washington DC ACORN – “We have no idea. You have to take a test with the Census. Do you know how to go to that site? We have nothing with the Census Bureau. You have to go on the web site then go to www.ACORN.org…”

Pittsburgh ACORN – “We don’t have that contract.  I don’t know who has it. You know the Hill House? They have a new employment center. Those people should know who’s hiring for the 2010 Census.”

Philadelphia ACORN – “I don’t know too much about the census. We are one of a couple of thousand partnership organizations. We haven’t had any information yet, but you should try back in a couple of weeks.”

Atlanta ACORN – “Go online to ACORN.org and that’s where you’d have to put the application in. That’s where you would put your application in.”

At this point, her phone line went down and she kindly called me back from her cell phone. She had me send her an e-mail with my request as her land-line phone was experiencing problems. I sent her an e-mail but it bounced back to me.

Among the ACORN offices I e-mailed, I received only one response, and it came from the Southern regional office:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am currently out of work, and I heard that ACORN was hiring for the Census. Can you please let me know how I can work for the Census in our area?

Thank you very much,

Stephen Robert Morse

The e-mail responses:

Dear Mr. Morse:

Thank you for contacting ACORN.

Unfortunately, no one we know of at ACORN has any idea where this notion came from.  We have no census work, never heard of any and don’t expect to hear of any census work.

Please contact the U.S. Census bureau or your local congressperson for information regarding working with the census.

Best regards,

G. Brown

CONCLUSION: At this time, it doesn’t appear that ACORN is recruiting on a national level to attract candidates to work for the 2010 Census, but that’s today, September 2. Local offices, such as the one in Atlanta, were quite quick to help me out.  The major recruiting efforts for the 2010 Census don’t take place until later this fall, so we’ll just have to wait and see what involvement ACORN has in this process.

Next Year’s Census Count Promises to Rejigger Political Map

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Here’s an interesting forecast on redistricting as a result of the 2010 Census from the Wall Street Journal (click HERE for the full piece):

By Stephanie Simon

The federal government has hired tens of thousands of temporary workers to prepare for the 2010 Census — a population count that could remake the political map even as the foreclosure crisis makes it more difficult to account for millions of dislocated Americans.

Early analysis indicates that Texas will likely be the biggest winner since the prior count a decade ago, picking up three or four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and Election Data Services Inc., a political-consulting firm. Other states poised to gain at least one seat include Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Florida and Utah.

Growth in these states is driven by factors including migration from other states, immigration and birth rates. The economic crisis has put the brakes on some of this expansion — Florida just reported its first year-over-year population decline since 1946 — but in general, Sun Belt states have grown faster than others over the past decade.

Since the number of seats in the House is capped at 435, the gains in the South and West have to be offset by losses elsewhere.

New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts and the recession-battered industrial states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania each stand to lose a House seat. So does Louisiana, where the population still hasn’t rebounded from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which displaced so many residents that census takers face a difficult task in tallying them all.

A state’s votes in the presidential Electoral College depend on the size of its congressional delegation, so the census will likely tilt the balance of power slightly, with reliably Republican “red states” gaining several votes while Democratic strongholds such as New England lose clout.

[Balance of Power chart]

The effect in Congress is less clear, said Karl Eschbach, the Texas state demographer. Texas, for instance, is solidly red when it comes to presidential elections. But Democrats have begun to make inroads in the state Legislature, buoyed by a flow of newcomers from more-liberal states such as California. So political analysts believe one or more of Texas’s new seats in Congress may well translate into a Democratic pickup.

Can Harry Reid Make Robert M. Groves’ Confirmation Happen?

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Well, now we know where the holdup came from! It was not one, but two senators, David Vitter (R-LA) and Richard Shelby (R-Al) who have been blocking Robert M. Groves’ confirmation to become the next U.S. Census Director. MyTwoCensus is inquiring with both of these Senator’s offices and we will be able to have their responses for you within the next 24 hours. We give a hearty hat tip to Roll Call for the following report:

By Jessica Brady
Roll Call Staff
July 9, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is looking to force a vote as early as this week on the stalled nomination of Robert Groves to lead the Census Bureau, hoping to harness his new 60-seat majority to overcome holds by a pair of Republicans.

“I think we’re going to have a cloture vote,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said Wednesday, noting that Reid will likely file a procedural motion to advance the long-stalled nomination.

Republican Sens. Richard Shelby (Ala.) and David Vitter (La.) each have holds on Groves, director of the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center and a former Census Bureau official, over concerns he would use statistical sampling for the 2010 effort. Republicans charge that the technique, designed to better capture undercounted groups such as minorities, is unconstitutional and a political maneuver.

But Democrats who favor Groves’ installment as Census Bureau director are eager to get him in place before the national population count officially gets under way in just eight months.

“The reality is this census is already hopping on one leg,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) said, expressing fear that “Latinos and other minorities are going to be severely undercounted.”

Carper last month called a meeting with Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to hatch a plan to unlock the GOP hold on Groves. There has been no follow-up to the June 16 meeting, both Carper and Collins said. The Homeland Security panel has jurisdiction over the Census Bureau.

“I still think he should be confirmed. He’s well-qualified, and I don’t know why some of my colleagues have a hold on him,” Collins said of Groves, who was confirmed by her panel on a unanimous vote on May 20.

But Vitter and Shelby have been unrelenting in their holds, demanding assurances from the White House including a guarantee from President Barack Obama that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which came under fire in 2008 over allegations of voter fraud, would not participate in the 2010 effort.

“Sen. Vitter is holding the Groves nomination until he gets written confirmation from the White House addressing two concerns: that sampling will not be used and that ACORN will have nothing to do with the census,” Vitter spokesman Joel DiGrado said.

Shelby wrote a letter to the president in March to question ACORN’s involvement in the census.

The census, conducted every 10 years, assesses the nation’s population and demographic makeup and influences the allocation of Congressional districts throughout the country. Next year’s head count will cost at least $14 billion, and according to a report by the Government Accountability Office issued in March, preparations for 2010 are ill-managed and behind schedule.

In addition to hefty legislative priorities and the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Reid has a backlog of two-dozen executive nominations awaiting floor consideration. The Majority Leader has had to use procedural rules to break GOP opposition on several nominations so far this year.

“We of course want to confirm all of these nominees as quickly as possible,” Reid spokeswoman Regan LaChapelle said in a statement Wednesday. “It is unfortunate to have to use precious floor time on these nominations, all of which so far have eventually been confirmed. We have so many important issues to address and the president needs his full team.”

Press Release from Sen. Tom Carper

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 25, 2009

CONTACT: Bette Phelan (202) 224-2441

SEN. CARPER URGES SENATE TO APPROVE CENSUS DIRECTOR

WASHINGTON (June 25, 2009) – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the Census Bureau, issued the following statement today after urging the Senate to vote to confirm a new Census Director:

“We are just six months away from the first surveys going out nationwide for the decennial census, and already the Census Bureau has encountered serious challenges that threaten to jeopardize the success and cost-effectiveness of the 2010 Census.

“We are very fortunate to have Dr. Robert Groves as the nominee for Director of the Census Bureau. He is a qualified, experienced candidate who has received support by members on both sides of the aisle, and yet the Senate has failed to vote to confirm him.

“A leaderless Census Bureau is not likely to pull off an accurate count or to avoid the costly mistakes that have already plagued preparations for the upcoming census.

“Addressing these problems and getting the 2010 Census back on track gets harder each day the Senate delays confirmation of Dr. Groves.

“I urge my Senate colleagues to put partisanship aside.

“The best thing we can do right now is to confirm the President’s nominee to lead the Census Bureau and let him get to work as soon as possible.”

###

A Bipartisan Call To Action On Redistricting

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Reps. John Tanner (D-Tenn) and Mike Castle (R-Del) who co-sponsored the Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act submitted the following Op-Ed piece that appeared in Roll Call:

The 2010 Census has already been front-page news, igniting angry partisan controversies involving Cabinet nominees, potential third-party contractors and even statistical methodology. Little attention has been paid, however, to the Congressional redistricting that will follow and to the abuses that have become inherent in the process.

In dozens of states across the country, politicians will quite literally be sitting down to select their constituents instead of the other way around. And those constituents will be stuck with those decisions for a decade. This is not the democracy that is taught in civics classes across this great nation.

With that process once again so close at hand, it is more urgent than ever that the American people demand that Congress fix this broken system and curb the abuses of gerrymandering that engineer predetermined political outcomes.

Each state has the authority and responsibility to design a Congressional district map that will best serve its citizens, drawn according to population, geography and federal voting rights laws, including the Voting Rights Act. We share the view of many that these district lines should not, however, be drawn to benefit certain candidates or political parties.

We will introduce legislation this week to reform the redistricting process. The Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act would limit redistricting to once a decade, after census data is available, to be carried out by an independent commission made up of bipartisan appointees. Our legislation will be similar to legislation originally proposed in the 109th Congress and that we sponsored in the 110th Congress.

It will not be easy to convince our colleagues to reform a process that often helps ensure their re-election. The push, therefore, must come from outside organizations and grass-roots approaches. Americans for Redistricting Reform and the groups in it, including the League of Women Voters, the Brennan Center for Justice, U.S. PIRG, the Committee for Economic Development, the Campaign Legal Center and the Republican Main Street Partnership, are strong advocates for fixing our broken system. Other organizations from across the political spectrum have joined us in this fight and will continue to decry the implications of a broken system.

Our Founding Fathers wisely knew the American people needed a legislative body directly responsive to their interests. By their vision, the House of Representatives was to be the only federal entity elected directly by the people (Senators were originally selected by state legislatures). They designed the House’s two-year election cycle to make Members directly and immediately accountable to the electorate.

Over time, however, many involved in the system have learned to manipulate it. Gerrymandered district lines, in effect, silence the voices of those who disagree with them politically. Too often, the process today utilizes advanced mapping technology, along with polling and party affiliation data, to draw district lines that protect incumbents and weaken the voice of each district’s minority party.

The judicial system has effectively sanctioned this culture of gerrymandering with various rulings permitting blatant partisan power grabs. A 2006 Supreme Court ruling essentially gave state legislatures freedom to redistrict anytime they want — even in the middle of a decade — for whatever purpose they want, including pure political gain.

Currently districts are engineered with impunity to protect incumbents, with voters’ voices diluted as they are packed together to achieve partisan ends. The resulting preordained outcome feeds citizen apathy, drives down voter turnout, depresses competition and entrenches incumbents who are protected from real competition and real accountability at the polls. The only serious challenges to these “safe seats” come from the extreme wings of their own parties, only serving to further polarize Congress.

Under this system, many Members of Congress are more beholden to a partisan base than to solution-oriented pragmatism. The outcome is a polarized political atmosphere where few are willing to work together in the political center, where most Americans reside.

Unfortunately, the public outrage that is still mustered over partisan gerrymanders builds and crests as the voters are divvied up by politicians every 10 years. By the time the next census comes along, the public, and even the media, is not paying much attention until it is too late.

America’s disaffected voters have been missing from this movement to reform the process, but their voices will be necessary to change the system. Most Americans today do not realize the negative impact many years of gerrymandering has had on Congress’ ability to accomplish the nation’s common goals.

Even as we face the greatest economic challenges most Americans have ever lived through, polarization and gridlock brought on by gerrymandering has limited Congress’ ability to address the issues with effectiveness, common sense and bipartisanship. The time to act is now, before the next election (the last before the census) is upon us and it is too late. We are asking our colleagues, our allies and the American people to help us to rectify this grave miscarriage of democracy.

ACORN is back in the news…

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Below, Congressman Steve King discussed Democrat efforts to block his amendment keeping ACORN of out the 2010 census with FOXNEWS on June 17, 2009: