With less than two months before the general election in November and amid demands for his immediate firing, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy faces calls for investigations from both congressional Democrats and the attorney general of North Carolina. This comes after explosive reporting on Sunday afternoon alleging that DeJoy, a Republican mega-donor now in charge of the U.S. Postal Service, may have criminally violated campaign finance laws.
First reported by the Washington Post, Sunday's story included claims from former employees of DeJoy's logistics company, New Breed, most notably its onetime human resources director, David Young, who said that DeJoy — a major donor to the Republican Party and President Trump — had reimbursed his employees for political donations by using payroll bonuses. Such an arrangement would be illegal under both federal law and in North Carolina, where New Breed is located.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein responded to the news Sunday evening by backing an investigation.
"It is against the law to directly or indirectly reimburse someone for a political contribution," Stein said in statement on social media. "Any credible allegations of such actions merit investigation by the appropriate state and federal authorities. Beyond this, it would be inappropriate for me as Attorney General to comment on any specific matter at this time."
While Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., called for DeJoy — who has been described as "Trump's crony" — to be fired on Sunday afternoon in response to the allegations, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer endorsed the idea of an immediate investigation. Schumer pointedly said that the Justice Department, under U.S. Attorney General William Barr, should be left out.
"These are very serious allegations that must be investigated immediately, independent of Donald Trump's Justice Department," Schumer said. "The North Carolina Attorney General, an elected official who is independent of Donald Trump, is the right person to start this investigation."
Speaking on behalf of the Democratic Association of Attorneys General (DAGA), co-chairs Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Ellen Rosenblum of Oregon said that with the election fast approaching — and DeJoy's role as postmaster general so pivotal in terms of securing the integrity of the vote — the best option would be for DeJoy to step down while a thorough investigation is conducted.
"The allegations that Postmaster DeJoy engaged in an extensive scheme to violate federal and state campaign finance laws are profoundly troubling," Healey and Rosenblum said in a joint statement. "If true, they call into question DeJoy's leadership and compliance with the law yet again, this time revealing a pattern of potentially criminal misconduct. This matter will require time to resolve — time that DeJoy does not have with the election just 60 days away. Postmaster DeJoy should immediately step aside, pending an independent investigation."
Common Cause — which along with other groups recently filed a lawsuit against DeJoy alleging that his actions to undercut the delivery of mail amount to a constitutional violation of Americans' right to vote — said the revelations of his alleged campaign finance violations are only the latest reason DeJoy cannot be trusted during such a crucial time.
"Mega-donor Louis DeJoy seemingly broke multiple campaign finance laws, continuing a dangerous pattern of turning our institutions of government upside down, from the Postal Service to our election campaigns," said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. "It is extraordinarily disturbing that DeJoy is abusing his power as postmaster general to help President Trump win re-election, meanwhile apparently demonstrating disregard for key campaign finance laws designed to promote the integrity of our democratic elections."
Hobert Flynn said her organization was considering legal action to hold DeJoy accountable for these alleged criminal violations.
Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, added that if proven true, "the fundraising scheme allegedly perpetrated by Louis DeJoy is extremely troubling."
Such "big money in politics" operations, he added, erode "public confidence in the integrity of our political system and fuels cynicism. Concealing the source of campaign donations is even worse, because it deprives voters of information they could otherwise use to inform their votes."
"These are serious allegations of illegal activity that warrant a thorough investigation," said Phillips, "and there must be full accountability from Mr. DeJoy."