NBC News is reporting that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy faced more than a dozen conflicts of interest because of his and his family’s investments in a number of companies closely tied to the U.S. Postal Service. The Post Office says DeJoy followed the guidelines set by the agency’s ethics office, but a government watchdog group says the documents raise questions about how the agency handles ethics challenges.
According to new documents obtained by the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that was ultimately fulfilled by court order, DeJoy had conflicts of interest relating to the company where he served as a chief executive, XPO Logistics, as well as 13 other major companies that have relationships with the Postal Service.
The U.S. Postal Service said DeJoy, who was appointed to lead the Postal Service in May 2020, acted in compliance with ethics regulations and followed a 60-day review by the Office of Ethics, which concluded August 14, 2020. It maintains he did not recuse or divest himself because of outside pressure and added that DeJoy, who faced ethical concerns and criticism last year, filed a public financial disclosure on his first day at work as postmaster general, which started the ethics review.
NEW: The United States Postal Service seriously mismanaged Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s conflicts of interest from the start, according to documents obtained by CREW https://t.co/pL6T5PIRVJ
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) October 21, 2021
DeJoy and two trusts he managed held substantial investments in companies including AT&T, CVS, Verizon, UnitedHealth, Lockheed Martin, Capital One, Discover Financial Services, Dominion Energy, Honeywell International, IBM, Regions Bank, Travelers Insurance, and JPMorgan Chase, according to an August 2020 holdings disclosure. The documents contain two letters that appear to show DeJoy began the formal recusal process for the first dozen companies and XPO Logistics in July and JPMorgan Chase in August. It remains unclear whether he was involved in Postal Service decision-making regarding those companies before he started that process.
Louis DeJoy is turning the USPS back into the Pony Express.
That is a huge FAIL. https://t.co/5lSFkvXkyb
— Grant Stern is fully vaccinated (@grantstern) October 17, 2021
A federal employee cannot hold stocks that have an aggregate market value of more than $15,000 in any company without recusing or divesting themselves from it, according to federal code. The documents state that DeJoy and his family’s investments in those 13 companies all exceeded that amount, but they do not provide a definitive value. DeJoy initially had recused himself from decision-making related to those companies in July and early August 2020. He fully divested himself of them later in August, months after he took the top job.
Since Mr. DeJoy became USPS Postmaster General, postal casework in my office has quadrupled. Seniors and veterans have seen medications arrive dangerously late. Small businesses have been hobbled. Some Christmas cards and passports never arrive. These delays are unacceptable.
— Rep. Lauren Underwood (@RepUnderwood) October 15, 2021
The Postal Service said its Office of Inspector General had already confirmed in sworn testimony before Congress in February that DeJoy followed the guidance from the agency’s ethics staff and set up arrangements for people to screen his work for potential conflicts and that he had ensured that he divested appropriately. DeJoy ultimately took action to divest two months after he was appointed to the position. Regardless, if DeJoy was involved in decisions about the companies in which he had an interest, any delay in formally recusing and later divesting himself gave an appearance of a conflict.