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November 17, 2020

Chairwomen Johnson and Stevens Criticize Appointment of Dr. Jason Richwine for New Senior NIST Role

(Washington, DC) – Today, Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Research and Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) sent a letter to Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross questioning the last minute creation of a new senior position within the Department, Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, without providing notice to Congressional committees, and the appointment of Dr. Jason Richwine to serve in that role.

Dr. Richwine has written blog posts for a prominent white supremacist website, arguing that Hispanic Americans are more prone to criminality than whites, as well as suggesting the use of an IQ-based ranking of races in order to support his anti-immigration beliefs, leaning on debunked pseudoscience that has been used for centuries to justify colonialism, slavery, and segregation. Furthermore, his 2009 doctoral thesis was dedicated to demonstrating that Latinos and other ethnic groups are intellectually inferior to white Americans as a matter of genetics.

“There is no place for prejudice, racism, and xenophobia in the federal research enterprise,” said Chairwoman Johnson and Chairwoman Stevens in the letter. “That Dr. Richwine holds these beliefs and has deliberately built a public profile around them is abhorrent; that he has apparently been rewarded for them by the Trump Administration is a scandal. With so few weeks remaining in your own tenure, you have elected to prioritize use of Departmental resources to elevate someone who espouses white supremacist views. The appointment of Dr. Richwine suggests a deep disrespect for the mission of NIST and an abdication of your responsibility to the public.

“In addition, Dr. Richwine’s educational and professional background are plainly inadequate for carrying out the responsibilities of senior leadership at NIST,” the Chairwomen continued. “He has no apparent applied experience in the physical sciences, engineering, government, or public administration and has never authored or contributed to a peer-reviewed publication. It is clear that Dr. Richwine is in no way prepared to contribute to the measurement sciences or standards mission of NIST.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.