Now that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has confirmed reports that he is under investigation by the FBI for alleged campaign finance violations, ordinary postal customers who have suffered under his regime may rightly wonder why he is still in office. That is an urgent question — and has been an urgent question ever since President Joe Biden's inauguration — but it is worth examining how DeJoy got the job, and how he abused a position of constitutional trust.
The FBI probe concerns an alleged "straw donor" scheme undertaken by DeJoy to illegally funnel over a million dollars in excess contributions to the Republican Party and Donald Trump's presidential campaign. It's an obvious form of trickery designed to evade federal limitations on individual donations by urging others to support a campaign or candidate and then reimbursing them under the table. Corporate executives with political ambitions like DeJoy have committed this particular felony over and over again — and if DeJoy is indicted and convicted, he won't be the first suit sent to prison for it.
During and after the 2016 election, DeJoy raised upwards of a million dollars each for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. For that he was named one of the party's three deputy finance chairmen — along with Michael Cohen, then still Donald Trump's personal attorney, and venture capitalist Elliott Broidy.
By then, Broidy had already been convicted on public corruption and bribery charges, while Cohen would soon plead guilty to campaign finance crimes as well as bank fraud. DeJoy would complete a dubious trifecta.
Last fall, a Washington Post investigation found that DeJoy had used the straw donor technique for over a decade to raise his profile as a Republican fundraiser in North Carolina. Former employees of New Breed Logistics, the supply chain firm he founded and then sold, said they had been pressured to make donations and repaid with bonuses and other compensation. The pattern dated back to the Bush administration — and appeared to have won at least two ambassadorial appointments for DeJoy's wife, Aldona Wos.
Yet while DeJoy's appointment as postmaster general was obviously greased by his massive donations, his alleged violations of election law are not the worst aspect of his regime. Even more troubling are major conflicts of interest that he has failed to resolve — and that some experts have described as potentially criminal.
When DeJoy sold New Breed to XPO Logistics, he held onto large amounts of stock and options in the merged company — which is a U.S. Postal Service contractor and might well profit from decisions made by him as postmaster. Policies promoted by DeJoy to diminish and even destroy postal delivery last year became controversial because of their effect on mail balloting — which his patron Trump blatantly sought to impede for partisan gain. But DeJoy is suspected of devising policies destructive to the Postal Service for his own self-serving purposes, too.
DeJoy and his family have invested tens of millions of dollars in companies, including XPO, that either contract with USPS, compete directly with USPS or both. Their investments in those competing firms, such as United Parcel Service, Forward Air and JB Hunt Trucking, are estimated between $30 million and $76 million, according to their own financial disclosures. Holding those interests in competing companies while serving in government is a serious violation of the law.
As Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, said last year, "the idea that you can be a Postmaster General and hold tens of millions in stocks in a postal service contractor is pretty shocking." Except that the behavior of Trump, his family, his treasury secretary and many other conflicted employees lowered ethical expectations below zero.
Incredibly, DeJoy has only pretended to shed those conflicts since they were exposed last summer — by "divesting" his XPO holdings to his adult children. He continues to represent a holdover of the corrupt administration that voters ousted in 2020. And his plans to wreck the U.S. Postal Service remain a grave danger to an agency founded in Constitutional authority.
Biden could take action to have the Postal Service Board of Governors remove DeJoy from the board, which would mean he could no longer serve as postmaster general by law. Americans who depend on the mail for their livelihoods, medications and so much more need reform now. They can't wait until the last crooked Trump appointee is taken away in handcuffs.
To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.