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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."

Texas GOP Pushes ‘Ruthless’ Voter Suppression, Sparking Calls For Federal Action

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

EDITOR'S UPDATE AND CORRECTION: Texas Republicans failed to enact an extremely restrictive voting bill on Sunday night when Democratic legislators walked out, leaving the bill short of a voting quorum before the session's midnight deadline.

Chris Turner, the House Democratic chairman, told his colleagues to "take your key and leave the chamber discreetly", referring to the key that locks the voting mechanism on their desks, according to the Washington Post.

But Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to call the legislature back for a special session to pass the anti-voting bill.



After reaching a deal less than a day earlier, overnight Sunday Texas state senators debated then passed along party lines a GOP voter suppression bill that was condemned by rights advocates and political figures across the United States—including President Joe Biden—and has sparked calls for Congress to urgently combat Republican attacks on democracy.

"Today, Texas legislators put forth a bill that joins Georgia and Florida in advancing a state law that attacks the sacred right to vote," Biden saidSaturday. "It's part of an assault on democracy that we've seen far too often this year—and often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans. It's wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote."

Sarah Labowitz, policy and advocacy director of the ACLU of Texas, also slammed the state GOP's Senate Bill 7 (pdf) in a statement Saturday, declaring that "S.B. 7 is a ruthless piece of legislation."

"It targets voters of color and voters with disabilities, in a state that's already the most difficult place to vote in the country. The defining message of the 2021 Texas Legislature is clear: Political leaders chose to punish their constituents instead of fixing the electrical grid or providing pandemic or blackout relief," said Labowitz, referencing power issues that impacted the state earlier this year.

"The bill, which was hashed out in a closed-door panel of lawmakers over the past week, was rushed to the State Senate floor late Saturday. In a legislative power play orchestrated by Republican lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the Senate moved to suspend rules that required a bill to be public for 24 hours before a final vote," the New York Times reported. "The Texas House did not move to suspend the rules, and is likely to vote on the bill on Sunday."

The Republican-controlled Texas Legislature is set to adjourn on Monday. The Washington Post noted that GOP Gov. Greg Abbott "threatened lawmakers with a special session if they did not pass a voting" and is expected to sign S.B. 7. Abbott is a potential 2024 presidential candidate and a major supporter of former President Trump—who, despite his definitive loss, claimed repeatedly that the 2020 election was "stolen" from him, which a majority of recently polled Republicans still believe.

Critics have called S.B. 7 a clear effort to limit electoral participation in the largely Democratic Harris County because it would outlaw drive-thru and 24-hour voting, which nearly 140,000 county voters used in the 2020 election. Other provisions include barring election officials from sending absentee ballots to all voters, implementing new identification requirements for Texans who request mail ballots, allowing partisan poll watchers additional access, and imposing harsher punishments on election officials who violate state rules.

According to the Post, "In a last-minute addition, language was inserted in the bill making it easier to overturn an election, no longer requiring evidence that fraud actually altered an outcome of a race—but rather only that enough ballots were illegally cast that could have made a difference."

Journalist and voting rights expert Ari Berman said in response to the addition, "This is insane."

"S.B. 7 remains a racist voter suppression bill that belongs in the Jim Crow era," Common Cause Texas executive director Anthony Gutierrez said Saturday after a conference committee of state House and Senate members released the final version.

"The choice to push this legislation forward in the dark, despite overwhelming opposition from the people of Texas, is about the politicians in power doing everything they can to manipulate the outcome of future elections to keep themselves in power," he continued.

MOVE Texas communications director Charlie Bonner echoed that critique Saturday in comments to The Texas Tribune.

"It is fitting that the final push to get anti-voter Senate Bill 7 to the governor's desk would take place behind closed doors, hidden from public scrutiny," said Bonner. "This bill does nothing to improve the security of our elections—it only makes our democracy weaker by limiting access for young, disabled, Black, and Brown Texans."

Gutierrez asserted that "the intent of this bill is now and has always been to make it harder for certain Texans to vote or simply discourage others from even trying to take part in our democracy. Nowhere is that made more clear than in this version that cruelly removes an amendment that would have simply made it easier for high schools to register students. There is literally no reason to do that other than the politicians in power being afraid of too many young people voting."

"New voting procedures implemented by innovative county officials like drive-thru voting and after-hours voting were a resounding success and deserve to be celebrated," he added. "Instead, supporters of S.B. 7 decided to end those practices simply because they enabled more people to make their voices heard in our elections."

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on Saturday sent a letter (pdf) to Texas legislators urging them to vote down the final version of S.B. 7, writing that the bill "includes out-of-bound amendments and was surrounded by procedural irregularities," and "may evince the Legislature's intent to discriminate against Black voters, in violation of the U.S. Constitution and federal law."

The developments in Texas fueled fresh calls for the U.S. Senate to pass the For the People Act, a sweeping House-approved election reform package that voting rights advocates say would thwart many of the hundreds of state bills that Republicans across the country have introduced—and, in some cases, enacted—this year.

"I call again on Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act," said Biden. "And I continue to call on all Americans, of every party and persuasion, to stand up for our democracy and protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections."

Former Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke—who battled Biden in the 2020 presidential primary and is reportedly considering a run to serve as the Lone Star State's governor—tweeted Saturday that "Texas lawmakers would dismantle our democracy in order to keep themselves in power. We're doing all we can to stop this bill from becoming law. But we can't do it alone. We need help. The U.S. Senate must pass the For the People Act."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Friday committed to forcing a vote on the For the People Act next month. In a letter to the Democratic caucus, he said the bill is "essential to defending our democracy, reducing the influence of dark money and powerful special interests, and stopping the wave of Republican voter suppression happening in the states across the country in service of President Trump's Big Lie."

Outrage Over Graham's Alleged Vote Tampering: ‘He Must Resign’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

As President Donald Trump on Wednesday continued to call his loss to President-elect Joe Biden the result of a "rigged election" without a shred of evidence to support his mounting claims of voter fraud, demands kept piling up for probes—and even the resignation—of Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, in light of his election interference efforts in Georgia.

Graham, a South Carolina Republican who held onto his key seat in this cycle, has faced an onslaught of criticism this week after Georgia's GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told the Washington Post that the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman had appeared to suggest finding a way to toss out legally cast ballots in a state narrowly lost by Trump.

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Outrage At DeJoy As Postal Service Misses Election Day Deadline

Election experts and other critics of voter suppression responded with alarm Tuesday after the United States Postal Service failed to meet a court-ordered afternoon deadline to conduct sweeps at mail processing facilities to "ensure that no ballots have been held up and that any identified ballots are immediately sent out for delivery."

Earlier Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia had ordered the sweeps between 12:30 pm and 3:00 pm ET, and set a 4:30 pm ET deadline for facilities to file a status update. John Kruzel, a reporter at The Hill, tweeted Tuesday afternoon that the USPS failed to comply, in spite of saying this week that about 300,000 ballots had entered the mail sorting system but lacked a delivery scan.

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