WASHINGTON — Scrutiny of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy intensified on Monday amid new reports alleging improper business dealings and persistent charges that the longtime Republican donor is subverting postal operations in order to make mail-in voting difficult in November’s presidential election.
“I am calling on Mr. DeJoy to be fired or resign,” government watchdog Lisa Graves told lawmakers on Monday morning, during a briefing on postal operations before the House Oversight Committee. True North Research, the organization Graves heads, found that DeJoy — who runs a North Carolina shipping firm — had been sued by his brother Dominick for allegedly siphoning money from the trucking company founded by their father.
Unknown nationally until this summer, DeJoy has become a key figure in the debate over how people should vote in November’s presidential election. Although that decision is ultimately up to individual states, voting by mail is impossible without a properly functioning postal service. That is the purview of the federal government.
President Trump has insisted, incorrectly, that voting by mail is subject to widespread fraud. Critics say the charges amount to a national voter suppression effort — one that, those critics say, DeJoy is abetting. Installed to run the U.S. Postal Service in June, DeJoy donated $1.2 million to the Trump Victory Fund. He has also been a consistent supporter of GOP in North Carolina, where he lives. The state’s Republican Party has been accused of being on the leading edge of efforts to suppress voters, particularly African-Americans in particular.
Over the weekend, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold sued DeJoy for intending to send a mailer that could foster confusion over how to properly vote by mail in that state. The mailer “provides false statements about voting in Colorado,” the lawsuit charges, and “will disenfranchise Colorado voters.”
On Monday, watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission in the wake of a Washington Post report that described how DeJoy reimbursed employees at his company, New Breed, for making political donations to Republicans.
The new complaint from CREW, which has frequently sued the Trump administration, points out that using straw donors, as DeJoy allegedly did, is illegal. The complaint suggests that federal election monitors could refer “this matter to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.”
Adding to DeJoy’s growing list of headaches was Josh Stein, the Democratic attorney general of North Carolina, where New Breed is based. Stein tweeted last week that “credible allegations of such actions merit investigation by the appropriate state and federal authorities.” The relevant state office in North Carolina is the one Stein leads.
Additionally, a new NBC News report found that a 2001 audit questioned “noncompetitive contracts by the Postal Service” to New Breed “that may have cost consumers as much as $53 million more than if they’d been competitively bid.”
New Breed later became XPO Logistics, which currently has contracts with the postal service running to about $40 million annually. DeJoy is no longer an executive at XPO, but his stock in the company is estimated to be worth some $30 million.
Richard Painter, a former ethics attorney for the George W. Bush administration, also testified on Monday, describing how the Bush administration “would not have tolerated” the kinds of conflicts of interest of which DeJoy has been accused. He suggested that DeJoy has violated both campaign finance law and federal law pertaining to conflicts of interest.
“This is a grave situation,” Painter said. “It requires investigation by this committee.”
Democratic anger is unlikely to imperil DeJoy’s job, but as they continue to investigate his financial dealings and political activities, problems could continue to emerge for the postmaster general, who is new to the federal bureaucracy.
The White House declined to say whether President Trump had confidence in the job DeJoy was doing.
These developments come as millions prepare to vote in the midst of a pandemic. Many states have made it easier to vote by mail to accommodate those who may be concerned about going to the polls. DeJoy, however, has been accused of making such voting more difficult by removing mailboxes and sorting machines, and by curtailing overtime pay.
In a combative congressional appearance last month, DeJoy angrily disputed charges that he had intentionally attempted to frustrate vote-by-mail operations. “I think the American public should be able to vote by mail,” he said.
Among those Americans who vote by mail are Louis DeJoy and Donald Trump.
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