The House Oversight Committee has launched an investigation into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy following allegations of a pattern of campaign finance crimes.
House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney on Tuesday called on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Board of Governors to "immediately suspend" DeJoy, telling Salon that he also faces possible "criminal exposure" for lying to Congress.
"If these allegations are true, Mr. DeJoy could face criminal exposure – not only for his actions in North Carolina, but also for lying to our committee under oath," Maloney said in a statement to Salon.
"We will be investigating this issue, but I believe the Board of Governors must take emergency action to immediately suspend Mr. DeJoy, who they never should have selected in the first place," she added.
DeJoy, a top donor to President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, was scrutinized for his high-dollar contributions when he was appointed by the USPS Board of Governors this May. A number of DeJoy's former employees came forward over the weekend to accuse him of unlawfully pressuring and reimbursing employees for political donations to Republican candidates in a Washington Post report.
Such an arrangement, colloquially known as a "straw donor" scheme, is one of the few jailable campaign finance violations, the Campaign Legal Center's Brendan Fischer told Salon.
Straw donor schemes, in which one donor gets other individuals to donate and then repays them, are serious for a number of reasons, according to Fischer. They violate transparency and maximum limit laws, allowing wealthier donors to secretly tip the scales in their favor.
"Plenty of people have gone to jail for straw donor schemes," Fischer said.
The Post interviewed former employees who alleged that they were pressured by DeJoy or his associates to donate to Republican causes. Individuals who worked in the company's accounting and payroll divisions also claimed that employees who made contributions were awarded bonuses to offset the cost.
David Young, a former Human Resources director at DeJoy's supply chain company New Breed, told The Post that "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."
In recent weeks, pressure has mounted on DeJoy, the target of fierce criticism from USPS employees, Democrats and the American public after reports surfaced that the agency had warned 46 states that mail ballots might not be delivered on time for Election Day, potentially disenfranchising millions of voters.
Additionally, numerous other reports have detailed how policy changes enacted under DeJoy have cut overtime and slowed down mail delivery across the country. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a letter to DeJoy last month that the postmaster general had "confirmed that contrary to prior denials and statements minimizing these changes, the Postal Service recently instituted operational changes" shortly after he assumed office.
Those changes, they said, "now threaten the timely delivery of mail — including medicines for seniors, paychecks for workers, and absentee ballots for voters — that is essential to millions of Americans."
Further, internal USPS documents obtained by Salon contradict DeJoy's sworn Senate testimony that he had not cut overtime. The USPS memo, which was provided by a manager to rank-and-file employees, appears to confirm reports that the agency was beginning to execute policies aimed at dramatically curtailing the opportunity for worker overtime under DeJoy. The memo says flatly on its first page, "Overtime will be eliminated."
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., asked DeJoy under oath whether he had taken steps to "eliminate" or "curtail" overtime. DeJoy responded in the negative.
"We never eliminated overtime," DeJoy said.
When Peters asked whether it had been curtailed, Dejoy replied: "It's not been curtailed by me or the leadership team."
"The new PMG is looking at COST," the memo begins, referencing DeJoy's position.
"Here are some of his expectations and they will be implemented in short order," the memo adds.
The second item says, "Overtime will be eliminated. Again we paying too much in OT and it is not cost effective and will soon be taken off the table. More to come on this."
The Post report also appears to have galvanized Democrats in the Senate, where DeJoy's wife is currently up for confirmation as Ambassador to Canada.
"These troubling allegations raise serious concerns about Wos' nomination," Juan Pachón, spokesperson for Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told Salon. "At this point, we are looking into them."
Trump nominated Wos in February amid a series of conspicuously timed high-dollar contributions to the president's campaign and Senate Republicans. The committee approved her and her confirmation is pending on the Senate calendar.