House Democrats announced on Tuesday that they are launching an investigation into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for campaign finance violations and possilbe perjury.
DeJoy has been taking enormous fire from Congress for his conflicts of interest as a GOP megadonor and for his role in sabotaging the United States Postal Service’s capacity to handle mail-in ballots, which are expected to flood the agency in November because of the coronavirus pandemic.
On August 24, DeJoy was accused of campaign finance law violations by Representative Jim Cooper (D-VA) while testifying before the House.
Cooper: “We want to make sure that campaign contributions are legal. So all your campaign contributions are legal?”
DeJoy: “I’m fully aware of legal campaign contributions. … What are you accusing me of?”
Cooper asked DeJoy if he had paid back employees for donations to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
DeJoy: “That’s an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it. . . . The answer is no.”
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
Last Thursday, the House Oversight Committee issued DeJoy a subpoena for “documents related to operational changes that have slowed mail and the agency’s plans for the presidential election,” per the Associated Press.
The subpoena was issued by Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) as a follow-up to DeJoy’s recent contemptuous and potentially perjurious testimony before the House and Senate.
Maloney warned DeJoy at the time that “it is clear that a subpoena has become necessary to further the Committee’s investigation and help inform potential legislative actions.”
But over the weekend, DeJoy’s troubles compounded when he was implicated in a years-long campaign finance scheme during his tenure as CEO of New Jersey-based New Breed Logistics by multiple independent investigative reports.
The Washington Post on Sunday reported that numerous former employees at New Breed were encouraged to contribute to Republicans and that the company would pay them back – under the instruction of DeJoy himself – over more than a decade.
“Two other employees familiar with New Breed’s financial and payroll systems said DeJoy would instruct that bonus payments to staffers be boosted to help defray the cost of their contributions, an arrangement that would be unlawful,” WaPo reported.
“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,” said David Young, a former executive at New Breed. “When we got our bonuses, let’s just say they were bigger, they exceeded expectations — and that covered the tax and everything else.”
One beneficiary of the funds in question was Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). According to The New York Times, Tillis received $37,600 from New Breed employees, all of whom were given bonuses in exchange for supporting his campaign.
“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,” The Times wrote. “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.”
“These are very serious allegations that must be investigated immediately, independent of Donald Trump’s Justice Department,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement Sunday.
Asking employees to donate to specific candidates is legal. Using corporate money to pay them back is not. Therein lies the crime.
Thus, on Tuesday morning, Maloney called for the immediate suspension of DeJoy, whom she said the USPS Board of Governors “never hould have selected in the first place.” They unanimously voted to install DeJoy in June.
“DeJoy could face criminal exposure — not only for his actions in North Carolina, but also for lying to our Committee under oath,” Maloney said.
The White House has issued conflicting statements on what should be done about DeJoy and his potential criminality.
On Sunday, Trump told ABC’s Kyra Phillips, “I don’t know much about it.” Then on Monday, Trump said he had no issue with DeJoy being investigated.
“Let the investigations go. But he’s a very respected man,” the president said. “Again, it was a bipartisan commission. Postmaster General is appointed by a bipartisan commission. We’ll see how that goes. I think he’s a very honest guy. We’ll see.”
When asked if DeJoy should be fired if he was indeed involved in a criminal campaign finance plot, Trump said yes.
“Yes, if something can be proven, always. They have been looking at me for four years. They found nothing. Four years,” he said.
On Tuesday, however, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows vehemently defended DeJoy and insisted that the investigations are a political hitjob.
“Never underestimate Congress’s ability to ratchet up an investigation 60 days out from a presidential election,” Meadows told reporters at the White House. “I think you would acknowledge covering Congress as much as you have the political rhetoric gets heated and accusations get thrown away and then many times right after the presidential election, voilà, they go away.”
DeJoy is an “an honorable man,” Meadows continued. “I’ve read about the allegations that have been made about him,” he added. “I’m sure he’ll cooperate completely. We serve in a great country where you’re innocent until proven guilty, especially when that guilt is thrown your way by members of Congress.”
What's Your Reaction?
Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.