The Democrat-controlled House Oversight Committee is launching an investigation into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over reports that, as CEO of a major North Carolina logistics company, he orchestrated an unlawful straw-donor scheme for the benefit of Republican political candidates, the latest scandal threatening to engulf the head of the U.S. Postal Service.
In a statement late Monday, House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) urged the USPS Board of Governors to immediately suspend DeJoy as the probe moves forward and said her panel will also investigate the postmaster general for possible perjury.
DeJoy, the former head of fundraising for the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, faces "criminal exposure" both if the claims surrounding the alleged straw-donor scheme are true and "also for lying to our committee under oath," said Maloney.
During sworn testimony before the Oversight Committee last month, DeJoy expressed outrage at a line of questioning pursued by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), who pushed the postmaster general on whether he reimbursed any of his company's top executives for contributing to President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
"That's an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it," said DeJoy, himself a megadonor to Trump's campaign. "The answer is no... I'm fully aware of legal campaign contributions, and I resent the assertion, sir. What are you accusing me of?"
AUGUST 24, 2020:@RepJimCooper: “We want to make sure that campaign contributions are legal. So all your campaign contributions are legal?”
LOUIS DeJOY: “I'm fully aware of legal campaign contributions. … What are you accusing me of?” pic.twitter.com/6O3Tmpuqky
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) September 6, 2020
The Washington Post and the New York Times reported Sunday that DeJoy pressured his employees at New Breed Logistics to write checks for Republican congressional and presidential candidates and reimbursed them for doing so through bonuses. DeJoy served as CEO of the company from 1983 to 2014.
"Louis was a national fundraiser for the Republican Party. He asked employees for money. We gave him the money, and then he reciprocated by giving us big bonuses," David Young, DeJoy's director of human resources at New Breed Logistics, told the Post. "When we got our bonuses, let's just say they were bigger, they exceeded expectations—and that covered the tax and everything else."
According to the Times,
A review of campaign finance records shows that over a dozen management-level employees at New Breed would routinely donate to the same candidate on the same day, often writing checks for an identical amount of money. One day in October 2014, for example, 20 midlevel and senior officials at the company donated a total of $37,600 to the campaign of Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, who was running to unseat a Democratic incumbent. Each official wrote a check for either $2,600, the maximum allowable donation, or $1,000.
The straw-donor allegations came as DeJoy was already facing growing calls to resign over his sweeping Postal Service operational changes that significantly slowed mail across the nation and threatened the timely delivery of ballots for the November election, sparking allegations of deliberate and politically motivated sabotage by the postmaster general.
As Common Dreams reported, Democratic lawmakers and other officials said the new revelations provide further reason for DeJoy to step aside or be removed by the USPS Board of Governors, which unanimously appointed him in May despite his potential conflicts of interest and complete lack of prior experience at the Postal Service.
"Megadonor Louis DeJoy seemingly broke multiple campaign finance laws, continuing a dangerous pattern of turning our institutions of government upside-down, from the Postal Service to our election campaigns," Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, said in a statement Sunday.
"It is extraordinarily disturbing," Flynn continued, "that megadonor DeJoy is abusing his power as Postmaster General to help President Trump win reelection, meanwhile apparently demonstrating disregard for key campaign finance laws designed to promote the integrity of our democratic elections."