Louis DeJoy’s first year as Postmaster General: controversy, delays, FBI investigation
WASHINGTON – Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has been a controversial figure since being appointed chief of the US Postal Service by the Board of Governors in May 2020. And as his first birthday approaches, his office has announced that he was under FBI investigation into past campaign contributions.
During his tenure, DeJoy faced a wave of criticism because of changes to the postal service during the 2020 presidential campaign. He made rash statements and vigorously defended his actions in the USPS.
Democrats have claimed that DeJoy, an ally of former President Donald Trump, was unqualified for the job due to his lack of sufficient postal experience.
In a letter to the Board of Governors in June 2020, then Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote: “The millions of Americans who rely on the postal service – to communicate, vote or conduct business – deserve to know whether the next Postmaster General has been chosen for political or patronage reasons or whether it will protect and strengthen its essential services.
A former Republican National Convention fundraiser, DeJoy had large investments in companies that compete with or do business with the USPS, according to multiple reports.
Democrats continue to reiterate their calls for his impeachment.
“Get used to me” DeJoy told a congressional panel in February. Indeed, it marked a year of work on June 15.
Here’s what’s happened since DeJoy’s appointment as Postmaster.
FBI investigation into DeJoy
A spokesperson for DeJoy confirmed in USA TODAY The Justice Department is investigating campaign funds involving its former North Carolina company, New Breed Logistics. The Washington Post first reported the Department of Justice interviewed past and current DeJoy employees about political contributions and the company’s activities.
Spokesman Mark Corallo said DeJoy did not knowingly violate campaign donation laws.
In September, the The Washington Post also reported former DeJoy employees were forced to make contributions to Republican candidates. They were then reimbursed with bonuses from DeJoy. It is a federal violation to reimburse employees for campaign contributions.
Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are currently investigating DeJoy over the refunds and whether he lied to Congress about the allegations during testimony in August. When asked if he reimbursed the employees who donated to Trump’s campaign, DeJoy replied, “That is an outrageous claim, sir, and I regret it.”
Mailing deadlines for elections, public holidays
DeJoy faced strong objections from Democrats and Republicans last year over changes that late mail delivery. Some of the proposed changes included reducing overtime, reducing post office hours, and removing mail processing equipment like blue collection boxes. It came as many states expanded postal voting in an attempt to limit crowds on election day due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Democrats argued that the changes would have hampered the agency’s ability to handle an influx of mail-in ballots during the election. Other changes that Democrats have singled out in a 10 page letter to DeJoy included declassifying first class election mail and banning “late” or “extra” delivery routes.
He defended the changes as a cost-cutting measure intended to improve the agency’s financial health before a Senate panel in August 2020.
“I want to assure this committee and the American public that the Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the country’s electoral mail safely,” DeJoy said. told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.
Just days after the Senate hearing, DeJoy again appeared before the House Oversight Committee to defend his actions. DeJoy condemned accusations he was undermining delivery of the agency’s election mail as a “false story”.“He also argued that the changes were necessary to offset the financial burdens of the postal services and that the pandemic had resulted in a downsizing of postal service workers.
But in the process, DeJoy suspended operational changes until after the 2020 presidential election. “To avoid even the appearance of an impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until the end of the elections.” DeJoy said in a statement at the time.
In February, he blamed the delays in the 2020 holiday season on the pandemic during a hearing before the House Oversight Committee. DeJoy once again asserted that the the agency had “persistent problems” and that “the erosion has been going on for years”.
The postal service has struggled under longstanding financial burdens. In fiscal 2020, the agency lost $ 9.2 billion. Over the past 14 years, the postal service lost $ 87 billion.
What’s going on with DeJoy now?
Five of the nine members of the Postal Service’s board are Democratic candidates.
Last month the Senate endorsed three of President Joe Biden’s candidates – Anton Hajjar, former general counsel for the American Postal Workers Union; Ron Stroman, a former post office deputy minister; Amber McReynolds, who heads the nonprofit National Vote at Home Institute – on the board.
Democrats have called for DeJoy to be removed from office.
“Postmaster General DeJoy wouldn’t be in his post if he worked for another company,” said Representative Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y.
Neither Congress nor a President can dismiss the Postmaster General; it depends on the board of directors.
However, during the House Oversight Committee hearing in February, DeJoy told Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., That he would oversee the agency for “a long time. Get used to me.”
As part of a ten-year “Delivering for America” plan to reduce the agency’s debt, the postal service wants to increase prices on first class stamps 55 cents to 58 cents and increase the prices of first-class mail, magazines and direct mail. DeJoy said the increases will allow the agency to “remain viable and competitive and offer reliable postal services that are among the most affordable in the world.”
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Contribution: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Louis DeJoy at USPS: Delays, Controversy and Under FBI Investigation