Like many Trump appointees, DeJoy seems to have been hired for the purpose of undermining the agency he now leads; almost immediately upon taking office, he instituted a series of policy changes that have resulted in slowdowns of mail delivery across the country. He has troubling conflicts of interest, holding between $30 million and $75 million in assets in Postal Service contractors and competitors. And now, according to a blockbuster report in The Post, he may have violated 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 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, an arrangement that would be unlawful.“Louis was a national fundraiser for the Republican Party. He asked employees for money. We gave him the money, and then he reciprocated by giving us big bonuses,” said David Young, DeJoy’s longtime director of human resources, who had access to payroll records at New Breed from the late 1990s to 2013 and is now retired. “When we got our bonuses, let’s just say they were bigger, they exceeded expectations — and that covered the tax and everything else.”
This is referred to as the use of “straw donors,” in which someone who has reached the maximum allowable contribution uses others to disguise their own contributions. Not only is it illegal, but people go to jail for doing it.
For instance, one of President Trump’s most ardent defenders, poisonous hatemonger and conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza, pleaded guilty in 2014 to a scheme in which he repaid his assistant and his mistress for donations to the Senate candidacy of a friend of his. D’Souza was sentenced to five years probation and eight months in a “community confinement center,” a more lenient sentence than some who committed this crime have received. In 2018, Trump pardoned him.
The Post story on DeJoy is extensively documented, with not only the reports of DeJoy’s former employees but public records as well, showing DeJoy employees who had never before made political contributions suddenly writing substantial checks to the GOP — then never giving such donations again after the company was sold and DeJoy left.
Following up on The Post’s scoop, the New York Times subsequently reported that a “review of campaign finance records shows that over a dozen management-level employees at New Breed would routinely donate to the same candidate on the same day, often writing checks for an identical amount of money.”
That doesn’t necessarily prove a criminal scheme — it’s possible that all these managers were similarly inspired by the candidacy of, for instance, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), one of the greatest beneficiaries of the company’s largesse, and simply all decided to support him at the same time and in the same amount. It’s possible, too, that they gave in response to DeJoy’s requests without receiving any reimbursement; that would not violate the law.
DeJoy was asked about this issue directly when he testified before Congress recently. “Did you pay back several of your top executives for contributing to Trump’s campaign by bonusing or rewarding them?” Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) asked him. DeJoy angrily denied that he would ever consider such a thing: “That’s an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it.” But The Post’s reporting suggests that the repaying of employees was not for donations to Trump’s campaign in 2016 but to other Republicans in earlier years.
As damning as all this looks, it remains to be seen whether DeJoy will face any legal consequences. Among other things, the statute of limitations has run out for the donations identified by The Post. What we do know is that the entire Republican Party has undisguised contempt for the very idea of limits on the ability of the super-rich people to use their money to help their kind of people get elected, whereupon those elected officials reward them many times over.
They pay them back with tax cuts for the wealthy, with deregulation for corporations and with control of the government agencies they find vexing. For all his talk of “draining the swamp,” no president in modern times has done more to turn over federal agencies to those who would loot, exploit or capture them.
There’s a world Republicans would like to create when it comes to the way our elections are conducted, one in which people such as DeJoy are unshackled from pesky rules and regulations, unbothered by limits on contributions and left to buy politicians without the disconcerting light of disclosure requirements. It’s the cause to which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has devoted much of his career, but the whole GOP is committed to it.
But there are still some rules in place. Once DeJoy’s done eviscerating the Postal Service, perhaps he’ll devote his efforts to the cause of making sure plutocrats like him are liberated from campaign finance laws and finally know the sweet freedom that can only come from being able to give unlimited, undisclosed political contributions.