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Tag: post office

DeJoy Hangs On At Post Office As His Company Reaps Huge Bonanza

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

U.S. lawmakers and ethics advocates on Friday reiterated calls for firing Postmaster General Louis DeJoy after The Washington Post revealed that the United States Postal Service awarded a $120 million contract to XPO Logistics, a company he helped run and "with which his family maintains financial ties."

"Louis DeJoy is a walking conflict of interest," declared Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA). "He had no business being named postmaster general, and he has no business continuing to serve."

"It's long past time to #FireDeJoy," added Connolly, chair of the House Subcommittee on Government Operations, which has legislative jurisdiction over the Postal Service.

Connolly was far from alone in responding to the report by calling for DeJoy's removal.

"How in the world is Louis DeJoy still the postmaster general?" asked Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO). "It is long past time to #FireDeJoy."

DeJoy's personal spokesperson referred most of the newspaper's questions to USPS—whose spokesperson "said that DeJoy did not participate in the procurement process for the XPO contract, which was competitively bid." The company's spokesperson noted that XPO was not awarded some other contracts it sought.

Under the contract that XPO got, it will take over two centers that organize and load mail. Dena Briscoe, president of the American Postal Workers Union branch for Washington and Southern Maryland, told the Post that the move felt like a "slap in the face" to workers.

"This is the work that they've been doing for years and years and years," Briscoe said, "and you're going to segregate it away from them, put in another building, give it to a company that previously had a [top executive] that is now our postmaster general. A lot of our members are taking offense to that."

As the Post detailed:

The new contract will deepen the Postal Service's relationship with XPO Logistics, where DeJoy served as supply chain chief executive from 2014 to 2015 after the company purchased New Breed Logistics, the trucking firm he owned for more than 30 years. Since he became postmaster general, DeJoy, DeJoy-controlled companies, and his family foundation have divested between $65.4 million and $155.3 million worth of XPO shares, according to financial disclosures, foundation tax documents, and securities filings.

But DeJoy's family businesses continue to lease four North Carolina office buildings to XPO, according to his financial disclosures and state property records.

The leases could generate up to $23.7 million in rent payments for the DeJoy businesses over the next decade.

Although the leases to XPO were cleared by government ethics officials before DeJoy took office last year, some experts are still critical—such as Virginia Canter, chief ethics counsel at watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

"There's no question he's continuing to profit from a Postal Service contractor," Canter said. "He can comply with these technical legal requirements… but it does create an appearance issue about whether it's in his financial interest to continue to make policy that would benefit contractors like XPO."

Friday's calls for the USPS Board of Governors to fire DeJoy are just the latest from the past year. He has been accused of slowing down mail service before the 2020 election and now faces a criminal probe over GOP political donations; DeJoy has denied any wrongdoing on both fronts.

DeJoy's "14-month run as postmaster general has been a masterclass in cronyism and deception," Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) said in response to the Post reporting. "The amount of suspicion I had about him and his efforts to intentionally undermine delivery times at [USPS] could have filled the Grand Canyon. The Board of Governors should #FireDeJoy."

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), who led previous calls for the board to oust the postmaster general, said Friday that "Louis DeJoy should've been fired long ago for his sabotage of USPS. He is under federal criminal investigation and now may be using your post office to wet his beak. The postal governors protecting him need to be fired first. This is an outrage."

DeJoy is spearheading a controversial 10-year reform plan for USPS that would involve cutting hours, slowing first-class delivery, and raising prices—an approach that has also provoked demands for his immediate ouster.

The 10-year plan was a key focus of a Board of Governors meeting Friday—the first that included all three members appointed by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the Senate.

"Ronald Stroman, the former deputy postmaster general and one of Biden's nominees, took the most aggressive approach in criticizing DeJoy's plan, saying the delivery slowdowns would hinder the agency's ability to provide prompt and reliable service without federal funding," reported Government Executive.

According to the outlet:

He said the plan is "strategically-ill conceived, creates dangerous risks that are not justified by the relatively low financial return, and doesn't meet our responsibility as an essential part of America's critical infrastructure." USPS expects to save about $170 million annually from the changes, a small fraction of its operating budget.
"There is no compelling financial reason to make this change," Stroman said. "The relatively minor savings associated with changing service standards, even if achieved, will have no significant impact on the Postal Service's financial future."

Stroman accused DeJoy and the existing board members of abandoning the customers most loyal to and dependent on the Postal Service and said the plan would accelerate people and businesses turning away from the mailing system. He added that "rarely, if ever," has a USPS policy change received such widespread pushback.

DeJoy, for his part, acknowledged to the board that the plan involves some "uncomfortable changes," while doubling down on it: "We are confident we are headed in the right direction."

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) disagrees. In a March letter urging DeJoy's firing, she wrote that his "pathetic 10-year plan to weaken USPS demonstrates that he is a clear and present threat to the future of the Postal Service and the well-being of millions of Americans, particularly small business owners, seniors, and veterans, who depend on an effective and reliable USPS to conduct daily business, safely participate in democracy, and receive vital medication."

FBI Probing Trump’s Postmaster Over Possible Campaign Finance Violations

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

One of Trump's most loyal saboteurs still remaining in office might not be able to hold that distinction for a whole lot longer. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is under FBI investigation for campaign finance activity according to the Washington Post. The New York Times advances the reporting by confirming "Mr. DeJoy has received a grand jury subpoena for information connected to the investigation, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to talk about information related to the grand jury."

That makes the very careful, very precise statement from DeJoy spokesman Mark Corallo to the Washington Post, confirming the investigation, just a little bit incriminating: "Mr. DeJoy has learned that the Department of Justice is investigating campaign contributions made by employees who worked for him when he was in the private sector," Corallo said. "He has always been scrupulous in his adherence to the campaign contribution laws and has never knowingly violated them." He has never knowingly crimed? He might have accidentally crimed? Seems like now would be a really good time for DeJoy to leave that office, either voluntarily or by having the newly complete Board of Governors fire his ass.

The investigation stems from reporting from the Post last September, detailing how DeJoy's former company, New Breed, was at the center of what looked to be an illegal straw donor scheme to pump more than $1 million to Republican candidates from 2000 to 2014. During that period, DeJoy became a major donor to the GOP in North Carolina and nationally.

The Post investigation found contributions from 124 New Breed employees to Republican candidates and quoted current and former employees who said that managers "received strongly worded admonitions" to give to DeJoy's fundraisers. DeJoy's executive assistant also "personally called senior staffers" to make sure they were attending or to make contributions to Republican candidates. The employees then received bonuses that matched their political donations, which sure looks like an illegal scheme—both federal and state—to funnel corporate money into campaigns and evade campaign finance laws. In April, District Attorney Lorrin Freeman in Wake County, North Carolina, announced she would not pursue an investigation because the matter would be better handled by federal authorities. Who are now, in fact, on it.

What's unclear from the Post's reporting is whether the FBI is also looking into further irregularities in donations in subsequent years surrounding the same company, which was bought out by XPO Logistics in 2014. DeJoy retired from his executive position at the company in 2015, but was then appointed to the board of directors and served there until 2018. The Campaign Legal Center, an advocacy organization, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that the pattern of straw donations continued after New Breed was acquired by XPO, and highlighting donations from employees and from DeJoy's family that look awfully suspicious.

The group alleges that from 2015 to 2018, it found "several instances of XPO employees contributing to the same candidate or committee, during the same period of time, and often in similar amounts," and that "DeJoy family members, including DeJoy's college-aged children, also made contributions on the same day or in the same period as those employees." By 2018, DeJoy had become a Trump donor and former deputy finance chair of the RNC.

During a congressional hearing in September, Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat, pressed DeJoy about whether he engaged in these campaign-finance irregularities. DeJoy—under oath—denied the claims. Cooper asked DeJoy about his fundraising for the Trump campaign, saying: "you were picked along with Michael Cohen and Elliott Broidy, two men who have already pled guilty to felonies, to be the three deputy finance chairmen of the Republican National Committee."

He asked straight up: "Did you pay back several of your top executives for contributing to Trump's campaign by bouncing or rewarding them?" DeJoy vehemently denied the allegation. Technically, DeJoy's denial of this might not be a lie because the Post'sreporting predates the Trump campaign. It alleges that DeJoy did precisely this, but for other Republican candidates. That's not to say that DeJoy kept up the practice after the XPO Logistics acquisition of New Breed (and by the way, XPO has been under investigation for exceedingly lucrative contracts with the USPS).

Precisely what the FBI and the grand jury are investigating isn't clear. The felony statute of limitations on campaign finance violations is five years, so the initial allegations from the New Breed era, which ended in 2014, are likely not it, though the Post suggests those employees have been interviewed. That could be to establish a pattern that continued through DeJoy's tenure at XPO and clear up until he was donating hundreds of thousands to Trump's 2020 convention. Before he was tapped to head the USPS in May 2020, of course.

This should finally be enough. DeJoy crippling the Postal Service should have been enough. The weeks-long delays in mail delivery should be enough. All of it should finally be enough for the USPS Board of Governors and for President Joe Biden. DeJoy has got to go.

Democrats Introduce DEJOY Act To Thwart Postal Service Sabotage

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Postmaster Louis DeJoy has made a very powerful enemy: the U.S. Congress. Well, the Democrats who control the House, anyway. A group of House Democrats has introduced the "Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round Act." Yes, the DEJOY Act, which is a crime against legislative nomenclature. But the lawmakers are serious, intent on blocking DeJoy from implementing the service changes he intends, including slowing delivery of first-class mail to as long as five days.

"This is the best way to kill your business," Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Illinois Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill, said. "To basically say to your customers, 'We're not going to meet your expectations. You're going to meet our service realities, regardless of what ends up happening.'" Krishnamoorthi told The Washington Post that this "particular change, going from 100 percent of first-class mail being delivered one to three days to only 70 percent, would be a nonstarter, in my opinion, with the American people."

DeJoy's response to Congress in a hearing before he released his plan doomed the reception of it. While DeJoy wasn't quite as obnoxious and insulting to members as in previous outings, he still angered many of them. DeJoy actually said "Does it make a difference if it's an extra day to get a letter?" as if people weren't relying on the mail to get their prescriptions, to pay their bills, to receive checks. Then he had the chutzpah to say, "I would give myself an 'A' for bringing strategy and the planning and effort to here."

It's not just Congress that is set against DeJoy. Pennsylvania's Attorney General Josh Shapiro threatened legal action if DeJoy's changes "illegally come at the expense of those who rely on the mail for everything from paychecks to medications." The Postal Service, he reminds us, is a public service and "Changes to its universal service guarantee must go through a process that is designed to protect the public interest." Shapiro's office told the Post that "it was encouraged that DeJoy recognizes the legal obligations to secure limited regulatory approvals, but said it remained concerned about timely mail delivery."

DeJoy wants to slash service, cut USPS post office hours, and increase postage costs for consumers, delivering worse service for higher cost in his attempt to save $160 billion over 10 years. That's along with legislation from Congress that is likely to pass that will repeal the 2006 law forcing the USPS to pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance. It's the only agency that Congress has ever required to do that, a decision made when cooking the books to make the deficit look better.

The USPS is an off-budget entity—its operating expenses don't come out of the Treasury, but its payments into the federal health benefits system do, so this intergovernmental agency pumping funds in for retiree health benefits could be counted as revenue for the federal government. It was so much book-cooking but had real consequences in burdening the USPS. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has legislation that would both repeal the 2006 law and enroll future retirees in Medicare. They're now in the federal employees benefits plan, where all that pre-funding money has been going.

DeJoy's planned price hikes and service cuts are getting panned by consumer groups—including business groups that rely on the mail. There are lawsuits in the works to force a stop to the changes. "In the entire fifty-eight pages of the plan there does not appear to be any effort to retain mail volume," PostCom, a national postal commerce advocacy group, wrote. "Apart from price increases and service reductions, there is little about mail in the plan at all. That's inaction." Another group, the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, said "the plan will drive mail volume down to levels not seen since before it reached 100 billion in 1980. […] If we mailers win our federal lawsuit, the plan is sunk."

DeJoy has to be stopped before he can implement these changes. He should have been gone before now—when his disqualifying conflicts of interestsurfaced. The fact that the USPS Board of Governors picked DeJoy—who was unqualified, had never worked in the Postal Service, and who got the job after making big donations to Trump's convention—without any vetting process means they have to go, too.

Biden should fire the board. The Senate should make confirming Biden's new board members a top priority. The Postal Service is too critical an institution to let this malfeasance continue.

Thousands Of Poorly Protected Postal Workers Sick With Covid-19

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

For months, one postal worker had been doing all she could to protect herself from COVID-19. She wore a mask long before it was required at her plant in St. Paul, Minnesota. She avoided the lunch room, where she saw little social distancing, and ate in her car.

The stakes felt especially high. Her husband, a postal worker in the same facility, was at high risk because his immune system is compromised by a condition unrelated to the coronavirus. And the 20-year veteran of the U.S. Postal Service knew that her job, operating a machine that sorts mail by ZIP code, would be vital to processing the flood of mail-in ballots expected this fall.

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Amid Mass Unemployment, Sen. Paul Demands Post Office Layoffs

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) argued during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee Friday that the United States Postal Service should cut jobs to save money — despite the fact that the country is currently experiencing a historic unemployment crisis, with tens of millions of Americans collecting job-loss benefits amid a coronavirus-fueled economic downturn.

"When the Post Office becomes desperate for money — less employees," Paul said Friday at a hearing with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. "We started that a few years ago, but we've got to do more of it. Mail keeps dropping, you've got to have less employees."

DeJoy was called to answer questions about recent changes to the Postal Service that have caused significant delays in mail and package delivery.

The slowdowns have caused delays in such varied areas as the delivery of critical medications to veterans and of baby chicks to farmers, with chicks being reported to have arrived dead because of the lag.

Slowdowns at the agency have also raised questions about whether mail-in ballots will be counted on time and whether voters could face disenfranchisement due to Postal Service delays.

Paul, however, called for more cuts at the agency, which could further exacerbate delivery delays.

Paul also argued that the Postal Service should cut the number of delivery days in rural areas from six a week to five — something that would almost certainly impact many of Paul's own constituents in the largely rural state of Kentucky.

Cutting jobs is always unpopular.

However, arguing for more job cuts during a global pandemic, during which unemployment in the United States has risen to record highs, leaving tens of millions of workers jobless, could be politically damaging.

And the Postal Service — which currently employs more than 600,000 people across the country — is almost universally popular with Americans.

In a 2019 Gallup poll, 74 percent of Americans said the Postal Service was doing an "excellent" or "good" job, making it the top-rated federal agency.

That would also make tinkering with the agency politically risky, as Americans like the services they are receiving and could grow angry if they were to lose them.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

DeJoy Surrenders, Suspending Changes At Postal Service

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced on Tuesday that he is "suspending" changes to mail delivery that experts have said could cause voters to be disenfranchised.

DeJoy, a top Trump donor, had come under fire from Democratic lawmakers for the changes, including removing mail-sorting machines and mailboxes and cutting overtime hours for workers. Social media petitions and posts spread the word that the United States Postal Service was in danger.

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How To Fight Back Against Trump’s Attack On The Postal Service

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Back in 2017, the Republican National Committee announced four finance chairmen. One of those was Las Vegas casino owner Steve Wynn, since forced to resign under allegations of sexual misconduct. The next was Elliot Broidy, who told a foreign government he could get the Justice Department to drop a graft investigation—if he was paid $75 million. Number three was some guy named Michael Cohen who … has a new book, so that's cool. The last of the four was Louis DeJoy, top Republican fundraiser and current postmaster general engaged in sinking the service through blatant sabotage.

With Trump refusing to even consider a bill that would provide necessary funding, and DeJoy meeting with Republican leaders to give them both an assurance that the Post Office won't be prepared to handle the election, as well as smoothing the road for the old Republican dream of privatizing a government service guaranteed by the Constitution, it may seem like there's little that can be done, especially considering the ticking clock between now and Election Day. But there are ways to turn up the heat and turn this problem around.

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House GOP Leader Breaks With Trump On Post Office Funding

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy broke ranks with Donald Trump on Friday, telling CNBC that he supports funding the U.S. Postal Service.

"The Postal Service will have the funding that it needs," McCarthy said, adding, "We will make sure of that." McCarthy claimed Trump would not oppose the funding despite repeated statements by Trump saying he would do just that.

In May, McCarthy voted against a House coronavirus relief bill, the HEROES ACT, that would have provided $25 billion for the post office.

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