Tierney Sneed for TPM:
A top Trump-appointed Census Bureau official who was installed this summer under controversial circumstances is also serving as an expert for a Georgia lawsuit seeking to stave off the President’s defeat in the state.
Ben Overholt — who, earlier in the administration, was discussed as a potential hire for President Trump’s bogus voter fraud commission — filed an affidavit in support of the state court lawsuit, which dubiously alleges that there are enough anomalies within the ballot data to justify “decertifying” Georgia’s results.
The lawsuit, filed on Monday, echoes several unsubstantiated claims that President Trump and his allies have made about supposed discrepancies in the election.
Overholt, the Bureau’s deputy director for data, “conducted this work on his personal time and in his capacity as a private citizen,” the Census Bureau said in a statement to TPM.
“Dr. Overholt cleared his participation with career ethics officials at the Department of Commerce Office of General Counsel. Dr. Overholt did not use Census Bureau or Department of Commerce resources to perform his work,” the Bureau said.
Nevertheless, Overholt’s involvement in the increasingly bonkers legal campaign to try to muck up the election results will add to the scrutiny that has already arisen around his and other recent appointments to the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau, under earlier administrations, has strived to insulate itself from political influences. The Trump administration’s move to create new top roles at the Bureau and then fill them with officials with partisan entanglements has raised concerns about the pressure being placed the Bureau.
Overholt’s affidavit — which identifies him as a seven-year civil servant, but doesn’t mention his current gig at the Census Bureau — focuses on an already-debunked allegation about Georgia’s mail ballot rejection rates.