WASHINGTON — House Democrats are launching an investigation of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and called for his immediate suspension after reports that he reimbursed former employees for campaign contributions they made to his preferred GOP politicians, an arrangement that would be unlawful.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said in a statement late Monday that the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which she chairs, would begin an investigation, saying that DeJoy may have lied to her committee under oath.
Maloney also urged the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors to immediately suspend DeJoy, who, she said, “they never should have hired in the first place.”
A spokesman for the Postal Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Maloney’s announcement came a day after The Washington Post reported allegations that DeJoy and his aides urged employees at his former North Carolina-based logistics company to write checks and attend fundraisers on behalf of Republican candidates.
DeJoy then defrayed the cost of those political contributions by boosting employee bonuses, two employees told The Post.
Although it can be permissible to encourage employees to make donations, reimbursing them for those contributions is a violation of North Carolina and federal election laws.
Such federal violations carry a five-year statute of limitations. There is no statute of limitations in North Carolina for felonies, including campaign finance violations.
Maloney said DeJoy faces “criminal exposure” not only if the allegations are true “but also for lying to our committee under oath.”
Maloney was referring to DeJoy’s testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee last month, when he forcefully denied that he had repaid executives for contributions they had made to President Trump’s campaign.
The former employees who spoke to The Post all described donations they gave between 2003 and 2014, before Trump’s first White House run. By 2016, DeJoy had sold the company and retired.
The Post’s findings prompted calls for an independent investigation from Democrats, including the Democratic Attorneys General Association and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged the North Carolina attorney general to launch a criminal investigation.
“These are very serious allegations that must be investigated immediately, independent of Donald Trump’s Justice Department” Schumer said in a statement Sunday.
The accounts of DeJoy’s former employees come amid what has been a rocky tenure at the helm of the Postal Service. After his appointment in May, he swiftly instituted changes he said were aimed at cutting costs, leading to a reduction of overtime and limits on mail trips that postal carriers said created backlogs across the country.
Democrats have accused DeJoy, who has personally given more than $1.1 million to Trump Victory, the joint fundraising vehicle of the president’s reelection campaign and the Republican Party, of seeking to hobble the Postal Service because of the president’s antipathy to voting by mail. As states have expanded access to mail voting because of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has repeatedly attacked the practice and claimed without evidence that it will lead to rampant fraud.
The Postal Service chief emphasized to House lawmakers last month that the agency will prioritize election mail. Responding to questions about his fundraising, DeJoy scoffed. “Yes, I am a Republican . . . I give a lot of money to Republicans.” But he pushed back fiercely on accusations that he was seeking to undermine the November vote. “I am not engaged in sabotaging the election,” DeJoy said. “We will do everything in our power and structure to deliver the ballots on time.”
The latest accusations have only added to the turbulence surrounding the Postal Service.
According to The Post’s reporting, five people who worked for DeJoy’s former business, New Breed Logistics, say they were urged by DeJoy’s aides or by the chief executive himself to write checks and attend fundraisers at his 15,000-square-foot gated mansion beside a Greensboro, N.C., country club. There, events for Republicans running for the White House and Congress routinely fetched $100,000 or more apiece.
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.
Monty Hagler, a spokesman for DeJoy, said the former New Breed chief executive was not aware that any employees had felt pressured to make donations,
After repeatedly being asked, Hagler did not directly address the assertions that DeJoy reimbursed workers for making contributions, pointing to a statement in which he said DeJoy “believes that he has always followed campaign fundraising laws and regulations.”