https://www.politico.com/story/2019/02/19/wilbur-ross-financial-disclosure-1187524The Commerce Department did not respond to requests for comment.
The administration has been on the losing end of scores of court decisions involving immigration issues since President Trump took office. But the census case has taken on special significance because it strikes at the heart of the United States’ form of government and because of what Seeborg described as a “strong showing of bad faith” by a Cabinet secretary who, influenced in part by White House advisers, tried to conceal his motives.
The cases against Ross have been brought by jurisdictions with significant immigrant populations. Only two have completed trials, the case heard by Furman and brought by 18 states led by New York, and Wednesday’s challenge, initiated by the state of California and combined with a suit brought by the city of San Jose.
Unable to find any expert in the Census Bureau who approved of his plan to add the citizenship question, Seeborg wrote, Ross engaged in a “cynical search to find some reason, any reason” to justify the decision.
He was fully aware that the question would produce a census undercount, particularly among Latinos, the judge said.
That would have probably reduced the representation in Congress — and thus in the electoral college that decides the presidency — of states with significant immigrant populations, notably California.
Because census data is used to apportion distribution of federal funds, an undercount would also have cheated these same jurisdictions, the judge said.
Seeborg, like Furman, found after a trial that Ross misrepresented both to the public and Congress his reasons for adding the citizenship question last March. Ross claimed he was acting at the request of the Justice Department in the interest of enforcing the Voting Rights Act.
In reality, the “evidence establishes” that the voting rights explanation was just “a pretext” and that Ross “acted in bad faith” when he claimed otherwise.
He pursued the citizenship question after hearing from then-White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon and Kris Kobach, the vice chair of Trump’s now-disbanded voting fraud commission.
Apart from violating the Constitution, Seeborg ruled, the Commerce Department breached the Administrative Procedure Act by acting “arbitrarily and capriciously” and violated Census Act restrictions on modifying questions.
In a statement on Tuesday, Ross said he held 100 BankUnited shares totaling about $3,700, “an amount that federal regulations deem de minimis and below the threshold of a possible conflict of interest.”
“While I am disappointed that my report was not certified, I remain committed to complying with my ethics agreement and adhering to the guidance of Commerce ethics officials,” Ross said.
The Campaign Legal Center on Tuesday applauded OGE’s action.
“It confirmed what we have been saying for a while now and it shows that OGE is also concerned about Secretary Ross’s commitment to upholding the public’s trust in government,” said Delaney Marsco, a legal counsel at CLC.
Last year, congressional Democrats asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate potential insider trading by the Cabinet secretary. He is set to appear before the House Oversight Committee on March 14.
Let it sink in that Kushner was rejected for a security clearance but was then given one because the WH overruled the rejection on Trump's orders.
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