- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Word from political adviser David Axelrod that President Obama will place the U.S. Census Bureau under White House control, but that “the professionals who conduct it” will still be in charge, doesn’t pass the smell test. In fact, it stinks. Traditionally, the bureau and each decennial census - the next one is next year - have been autonomous. Republicans worry, and with probable good reason, that the administrative hand that will weigh the census count will be heavy-handed and manipulative.

If the census were to overcount here, undercount there, statistically alter this, adjust that, some districts and states could end up with more members of Congress (think Democratic areas) at the expense of others (think Republican areas).

Alexrod, in responding to questions on FOX News Sunday, was not specific in revealing whether he (Mr. Obama’s former campaign strategist) or Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) or some other functionary in the West Wing will oversee the Census Bureau. It’s reminiscent of the Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth,” “Something’s happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear.” What is exactly clear is that taking away the Census Bureau from the Commerce Department and placing it under White House control has both the appearance and the actuality of impropriety. Congress, using its oversight authority, should not let this happen.

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