BY MARK SAXENMEYER
A year after The Reporters Inc. began investigating claims by three whistleblowers that the validity of the 2020 U.S. Census may have been compromised by “systematic cheating,” the Census has responded with 88 pages of documents refuting the allegations.
At the same time, one of the whistleblowers, former Census Partnership Specialist Jerry Huffman, has decided to publicly reveal his identity, in a new, first-person account for The Reporters Inc.
In January 2021, The Reporters Inc. first reported Huffman and the other whistleblowers’ anonymous claims that their Census bosses ordered them to file phony documentation regarding the creation of Census “Partners” or “Partnerships.” Huffman says these orders should deeply concern the American public about the integrity of the Census and its 2020 results.
By definition, Census Partners can be businesses or nonprofits, churches or school districts, tycoons or the guy next door. Once signed up by Partnership Specialists like Huffman, 2020 Partners agreed to recruit more people to fill out the Census questionnaire. The Partnerships were designed to encourage and persuade groups and communities—who might be wary of the Census or mistrust the government—to participate.
But Huffman claims he and his fellow whistleblowers were asked to create and register false or nonexistent Partners solely to “convince politicians and the public that there was record-setting support for the Census, when there may not have been.”
Because the Census count ascertains population size, it can lead to a redrawing of Congressional, state and local district boundaries, and determine how much funding a community receives for new roads, schools, hospitals, programs, etc. “Yet in my mind,” Huffman writes, “Questions still remain whether it all was done honestly and ethically.”
In January 2021, a Census spokesperson told The Reporters Inc. that the Census “will give its full cooperation to any inquiry or investigation. The Census Bureau takes falsification allegations seriously.”
A month later, in February 2021, Charles Betterton, a former U.S. Census Bureau supervisor in the Chicago region, contacted The Reporters Inc. to corroborate the veracity of the fraud allegations brought by the Census Bureau whistleblowers. “I was compelled to respond to the story,” Betterton said, “because I knew it to be true, and…I was and am concerned about any possible impact on the credibility of the Bureau and the accuracy of the 2020 Census.” (more…)
Editor’s Note: In a September 2022 Reporters Inc. exclusive, writer Jerry Huffman revealed that he’s one of three whistleblowers accusing the United States Census Bureau of “systematic cheating” regarding the creation of 2020 Census “Partners.” The Census Bureau responded with 88 pages of documents refuting the allegations.
Huffman has refused to back down from his claims and is now challenging Wisconsin leaders to take a hard, second look at the Census results in his home state.
BY JERRY HUFFMAN
Governor Tony Evers, with election day just a few days away, this is probably not at the top of your to-do list, but Wisconsin needs to take a hard look at its 2020 Census count.
Why? Because I’m not convinced it’s accurate.
For the record, the Census Bureau says Wisconsin’s population grew just over 3.5 percent in the last decade, from 5.7 million to 5.9 million.
But it also admits that neighboring Minnesota had a 2020 overcount of nearly 4 percent, and Illinois was undercounted by nearly 2 percent. We’re surrounded by miscounted states that even the Census considers “statistically significant.”
The Census is largely about money. A correct population count has a direct impact on how much of $1.5 trillion dollars in federal aid is ultimately divvied up and sent to each state. And, in my opinion, there’s a good chance that Wisconsin might have been slighted due to a faulty count
First, full disclosure, as my opinion is anything but objective. I worked for the Census from the spring of 2019 until the fall of 2020 as a “Partnership Specialist.” My job was to engage with leaders and the general public in counties across Southwestern Wisconsin in order to promote community involvement with the Census.
As part of a team of Partnership Specialists, we were expected to generate Partnerships that could lead to greater participation of people taking and completing the Census questionnaire. The thought being that the more people involved, the more likely the Census results would be accurate. The U.S. government spent millions of dollars promoting the Census but, in the end, much of its success would likely depend upon these one-on-one connections between community leaders and workers like myself.
Yes, we were “feds” but people were generally inclined to believe and trust us—primarily, I think, because we were local.
Yet in January of 2020 word came down from Chicago Census headquarters that we weren’t generating enough Partnerships. Not just in Wisconsin, but across the country. Nationally, teams were pulled from the field and assigned to dramatically beef up the Partnership numbers.
Working the phones, we asked local leaders across our region to become Partners. Most agreed, but our bosses still said we weren’t doing enough. Then, we were told to start adding names of groups or individuals who might be interested in joining—but not to bother asking them. We just had to add their names to the lists of Partners.
The mind-numbing illogic of “sign them up but don’t tell them” was incomprehensible. But it was made clear, if we didn’t like the orders, we could leave. (more…)