U.S. House Democrats said Tuesday they will investigate whether Postmaster General Louis DeJoy encouraged employees at his business to contribute to Republican candidates and then reimbursed them in the guise of bonuses, a violation of campaign finance laws.
Five people who worked for DeJoy’s former business, New Breed Logistics, say they were urged by DeJoy’s aides or by DeJoy himself to write cheques and attend fundraisers at his mansion in Greensboro, N.C., The Washington Post reported. Two former employees told the newspaper that DeJoy would later give bigger bonuses to reimburse for the contributions.
It’s not illegal to encourage employees to contribute to candidates, but it is illegal to reimburse them as a way of avoiding federal campaign contribution limits.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the House’s oversight committee, said in a statement Tuesday that if the allegations are true, “DeJoy could face criminal exposure — not only for his actions in North Carolina but also for lying to our committee under oath.”
She was referring to DeJoy’s testimony before her committee last month when he forcefully denied that he had repaid executives for contributing to Trump’s campaign.
Maloney urged the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to immediately suspend DeJoy, whom “they never should have selected in the first place.”
Rep. Gerry Connolly, chairman of the oversight panel’s government operations subcommittee, said DeJoy has “repeatedly broken the trust of the American people and must resign or be fired.”
‘Outrageous claim,’ DeJoy testifies
Monty Hagler, a spokesperson for DeJoy, told the Post that DeJoy was unaware that any workers felt pressure to make donations. Hagler also said DeJoy believes he has always complied with campaign fundraising laws and regulations.
President Donald Trump did not oppose the idea of an investigation when asked by reporters on Monday about the Post report.
DeJoy’s tenure at New Breed ended in 2014. He was asked at a House oversight committee last month if he had engaged in the practice with respect to Trump’s presidential campaign, which didn’t begin until 2015.
“Did you pay back several of your top executives for contributing to Trump’s campaign by bonusing or rewarding them?” Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper asked at the Aug. 24 session.
“That’s an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it,” DeJoy said in response.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein told MSNBC on Tuesday morning in an interview that reimbursing straw donors, if circumstances described by the Post were true, could constitute a felony under state law. The applicable laws have no statute of limitations, Stein said.
WATCH l DeJoy assurances about mail voting don’t appear to sway Democrats:
DeJoy already faces unrelated scrutiny from Congress for USPS changes that some fear will slow delivery of mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 elections.
He was put in charge of the postal service in June after a career in logistics and set in motion a series of policy changes that have delayed mail and sparked concern over the agency’s ability to process a flood of mail-in ballots expected this fall due to coronavirus fears.
The oversight committee recently subpoenaed DeJoy for records about widespread mail delivery delays that have pushed the postal service into the political spotlight.