Hours later, as fears escalated that DeJoy’s cost-cutting changes could delay ballots in November, Democratic lawmakers summoned him to testify at an emergency hearing.
DeJoy, who was named to head the U.S. Postal Service in May, and his wife, Aldona Wos, have for decades worked behind the scenes to raise millions for candidates like President Trump and former North Carolina governor Pat McCrory (R). But over the weekend, the GOP power couple found themselves at the center of public anger over fears that Trump is interfering with the November election by crippling the Postal Service.
“We’re in the middle of a historic pandemic and as many as 40 percent of Americans plan on casting their ballot by mail,” Patrick Young, an organizer with the group Shut Down D.C., told WUSA. “If we can’t rely on those ballots getting to where they need to go, we’ve got a serious problem with democracy.”
It is unclear whether DeJoy or Wos were at either residence during the demonstrations this weekend; a spokesperson for the Postal Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As The Washington Post has reported, DeJoy has upended the mail system months before it is expected to serve as the main conduit for millions of mail-in ballots, as voters seek to avoid polling places during the coronavirus pandemic. In the past week alone, he fired or reassigned several agency leaders and ordered the removal of hundreds of high-speed mail-sorting machines critical to maintaining processing capacity. After he eliminated overtime hours for delivery workers and banned them from making extra trips for on-time delivery, some localities were already seeing USPS backlogs of up to a week.
With medications and bills stuck in postal limbo, many officials now worry that millions of Americans could be effectively disenfranchised in November if their ballots do not arrive in time to be counted.
Late Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recalled the House back to Washington for hearings on DeJoy’s changes, warning that the “lives, livelihoods and the life of our American democracy are under threat.”
It is, by some measures, an unlikely rise to prominence for DeJoy, a Brooklyn native and accountant by training who took over his family’s struggling Long Island trucking company. By the time he sold New Breed Logistics in 2014, he had turned it into a $615 million nationwide logistics business based out of Greensboro.
“He’s pure New York. To the point, direct, no BS. Strictly business,” McCrory told the Charlotte Observer. In a June video message, DeJoy told postal employees: “I am direct and decisive and I don’t mince words.”
It is Wos who has taken on the most public-facing roles of the two. A native of Poland, her Catholic father smuggled a dozen Jews to safety and was sent to the Flossenburg concentration camp for one year during World War II, the News & Record reported. In Greensboro, she led local efforts to educate schoolchildren about the Holocaust and was appointed to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.
Wos’s real prowess was in raising money, though, and in 2002, she collected nearly $1 million to elect Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) over the course of one month. Soon she was helping to lead campaign fundraising efforts in North Carolina for George W. Bush, who later appointed her as the U.S. ambassador to Estonia.
DeJoy proved to be similarly prolific. He co-chaired Rudolph W. Giuliani’s North Carolina fundraising campaign in 2008 but later found his primary political cause in a fellow businessman: Trump.
Since 2016, he donated about $1.2 million each to the president and the Republican Party, a sum that propelled him into the upper echelons of the GOP’s fundraising apparatus. After being named one of the deputy finance chairmen for the Republican National Committee — alongside Michael Cohen — DeJoy was named the local finance chairman for the party’s planned convention this year in Charlotte, which has been scaled down exponentially because of the pandemic.
The couple’s efforts were summarily rewarded. As president, Trump made his first trip to North Carolina for a fundraiser at DeJoy’s home, a gargantuan, 15,000-square-foot mansion in Greensboro’s posh Irving Park neighborhood. The president later named Wos to a commission that selects White House fellows and, earlier this year, as the U.S. ambassador to Canada. (Her nomination is pending before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.)
Then came DeJoy’s appointment as postmaster general. In May, the Postal Service’s majority Republican board of directors selected him, amid concerns that DeJoy had invested between $30.1 and $75.3 million in the service’s competitors, The Post’s Jacob Bogage reported.
Now DeJoy, who is the first person filling that job in decades without having served as a letter carrier first, is facing the same sort of intensely public pushback that is common for the president and other high-profile members of his administration.
In a statement over the weekend, Shut Down D.C. said that activists hoped to provide DeJoy with “a much needed wakeup call” outside his building in the Kalorama neighborhood as they banged drums and shook noisemakers.
Sunday’s protest in Greensboro took on a different tenor, with the founder of a Grammy-nominated bluegrass group performing a call to action on the banjo. “Our government is doing a disservice to us all, to not deliver us the mail should be against the law,” he sang.
Pelosi said both DeJoy and Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Robert M. Duncan would be invited to testify before the House Oversight Committee’s emergency meeting on Aug. 24, ahead of planned vote on legislation that would bar the Postal Service from pursuing operational changes.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has also called for DeJoy’s testimony. It’s unclear whether DeJoy will cooperate.