OP-ED: Louis DeJoy must be held accountable for the damage he’s done to Postal Service

Martin W.G. King
New York Daily News (TNS)
U.S. Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on August 24, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee is holding a hearing on "Protecting the Timely Delivery of Mail, Medicine, and Mail-in Ballots." (Tom Brenner/Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

Benjamin Franklin, our first postmaster general, would weep.

Many Americans deplore what the current postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, has done to politicize and demobilize the United States Postal Service, a constitutionally mandated service. Some are also questioning whether DeJoy has committed ethical and financial transgressions in his short time in office.

DeJoy has said he will delay some of his controversial changes to the Postal Service until after the Nov. 3 election to avoid even the appearance of election tampering. But he has declared repeatedly that he won’t replace the high-volume sorters that he has taken out of service

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DeJoy, a wealthy Republican donor who contributed $1.2 million to the Trump Victory Fund, $1.3 million to the Republican Party and who was is in charge of fundraising for the Republican National Convention, used the slowdowns he and others created to initially assert that his agency would be unable to process mail-in ballots in time for counting.

Were that to happen, tens of millions of voters who have long depended on this voting option would be disenfranchised. In a time of widespread contagion, this was an atrocious disregard of the Postal Service’s mission. Moreover, in seeming to purposely cripple the revered agency, DeJoy may have violated the 1948 federal statute against tampering with or slowing the delivery of mail.

Likewise, DeJoy has flouted another government standard, the one forbidding financial conflicts of interest. He has kept more than $30 million in holdings in a company called XPO Logistics, one of the Postal Service’s contractors, according to CNN. DeJoy earlier sold a company he owned, New Breed Logistics, to XPO for $615 million. New Breed was long the subject of complaints about a sexist and racist culture under DeJoy’s leadership.

In the same report, CNN also described a dubious financial arrangement DeJoy has with Amazon, in which he recently sold up to $250,000 in stock but entered into a deal the same day to purchase up to $100,000 in much lower-priced stock options. Amazon — and DeJoy — could profit if Postal Service functions were to be curtailed.

Ordinarily, the board of governors of the U.S. Postal Service would investigate DeJoy’s alleged wrongdoings. However, all the members are recent Trump appointees, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin leaned on them heavily to appoint DeJoy, violating a 50-year tradition that has kept the Postal Service, an independent agency, free of political interference.

Unlike the vast swath of Americans who oppose the unwinding of the Postal Service and the 70% who support mail-in voting, an option that up to 80 million voters will choose this year, Congress is divided on the issue.

But in a rare bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives, in an urgent special session, adopted New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s Delivering for America Act, which requires the return of the high-volume sorters and blocks most of DeJoy’s other changes. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, has announced he won’t bring the legislation to the floor, making it moot in its present form. The following Monday, DeJoy faced blistering criticism from such firebrands on the Democrat-dominated House Committee on Oversight and Reform as Rep. Steven Lynch, D-Mass., a former ironworker, and Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., a single mom and Harvard Law protege of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Porter is known for her withering takedowns of Trump cronies, members of the administration and Wall Street tycoons.

No one knows what further damage DeJoy will inflict. In the meantime, please pass Franklin a tissue.

— Martin W.G. King is retired from the National Crime Prevention Council, where he served as senior writer.