In case you were wondering how Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross managed to forget about divesting his considerable personal assets before taking his job at Camp Runamuck, the explanation, thanks to Politico, is now clear. Ol' Wilbur was asleep at the time.
The Commerce Department has reached its apex of dysfunction under Wilbur Ross, according to four people with knowledge of the inner workings of the department. The 81-year-old Commerce secretary, who has for months endured whispers that he is on the outs, spends much of his time at the White House to try to retain President Donald Trump’s favor, the sources said, leaving his department adrift...
“Because he tends to fall asleep in meetings, they try not to put him in a position where that could happen so they’re very careful and conscious about how they schedule certain meetings,” said the former outside adviser. “There’s a small window where he’s able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep.” A Commerce official disputed that characterization, saying that Ross has frequent afternoon meetings, including “long” meetings on the census.
Trying to stay on the good side of El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago would be an exhausting enterprise even for a man half Ross's age. But, apparently, in the middle of a costly trade war, and with the White House desperately trying to game the 2020 census, the Commerce Department is essentially adrift.
“With our ongoing trade wars and the census looming, Commerce needs functional leadership in order to be effective, and right now they just don’t have it,” said Theo LeCompte, a former top Commerce official in the Obama administration who speaks often with former colleagues.
One common complaint: Ross, a successful investor before Trump tapped him for his current job, isn’t frequently seen in the building talking to employees or rallying them to do good work. “He’s sort of seen as kind of irrelevant. The morale is very low there because there’s not a lot of confidence in the secretary,” said a former outside adviser to Commerce who is still in touch with many employees inside the department. “He’s not respected in the building.”
Even when Ross is awake, his track record indicates that he's not inclined to protect his department's prerogatives against White House meddling. Despite losing in court every time it arrives there, the sub rosa purpose of the citizenship question remains curiously alive. From the Waco Tribune-Herald:
At least one Waco resident has received the 2019 Census Test, which is a 10-question survey sent out to 480,000 households in the U.S. to test the “operational effects of including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census,” according to a press release the Census Bureau published last month. The 2019 Census Test randomly assigns households to two groups and asks them to respond to 2020 Census questions. One group’s list includes the citizenship question.
“Findings from the nationwide test will assist in determining updates to 2020 Census operations, such as how many census takers are needed to follow up with nonresponding households and how to better communicate with households about the 2020 Census,” the press release states. But Waco attorney Alan Nelson is not buying that. He represents the resident who received the survey, and his client is of Hispanic origin, he said. “It appears to be targeting minorities,” Nelson said. “They get this census test, which is supposed to measure the impact of the 2020 Census, but they have a question on there which, in my opinion, is illegal and at a minimum in great dispute.”
Wake up, Wilbur. Thieves are in the house.
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