FactCheck: Bachmann "flat wrong" about ACORN conducting Census


During Rep. Michele Bachmann's first fear-mongering claims explaining why she wasn't going to fill out the 2010 U.S. Census, she said she was concerned that her worst enemy, ACORN, would have too much control over it and potentially misuse her data.

FactCheck says her claim that ACORN will be going door-to-door and gathering data is "flat wrong". At least she can keep scaring us with the vision of Census internment camps.

UPDATE: Minnesota Public Radio says a Census Bureau official met with Bachmann's office to calm her fears of the Census. Census bureau spokesman Steve Buckner told MPR that the census is only 10 questions long and a small percentage of people could be randomly picked to fill out a longer survey.

FactCheck explanation below.

Bachmann started spewing these false assumptions in mid-June during an interview with Washington Times.

She said ACORN "will be in charge of going door-to-door and collecting data from the American public... This is very concerning." She went on to say she will only tell the government how many people live in her household because she is concerned ACORN could misuse her data.

FactCheck calls this statement "flat wrong".

ACORN is signed up as a partner with the Census Bureau, but that essentially means nothing. There are about 30,000 other groups also considered partners and the Census officials expect to have more than 100,000 partners by the end of the process. There were 140,000 partners in 2000.

More from FactCheck:

Being "partners" with the Census Bureau doesn't entail as close a relationship as one might think. For the most part it involves getting the word out that it's important for everyone to participate in the decennial event that helps determine where federal money goes and how House of Representatives district boundaries are redrawn.

Each partner group is asked to complete a form listing a series of possible activities with which it would be willing to help. ACORN's form is on page 48 of a package of documents that was turned over to the watchdog group Judicial Watch by the Census Bureau under the Freedom of Information Act. ACORN checked off, among other items, "identify job candidates and/or distribute and display recruiting materials" and "provide space to train new [census] employees." But government officials have made it clear that that's a far cry from having ACORN hire workers and conduct the census.

In April, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke spoke to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, to discuss ACORN's involvement in the Census.
[T]he Census will not be hiring anyone from ACORN. We use these so-called partners to get the word out and to spread the word about the need for people to respond and answer the questionnaires. ...We control the hiring. We do not use any government funds to subcontract with any organization to do any activity. ...We are not delegating anything to ACORN.
Census Bureau public affairs specialist Shelly Lowe also told FactCheck that partners promote job opportunities and the importance of the Census, but they don't do any hiring. The Census employs 1.2 million workers to do door-to-door work, but employees go through a test, FBI background check and fingerprint check before they are hired.

Time to get a new conspiracy, Bachmann. We have to admit we are really digging the internment camp one though.