"He must resign": FBI probing Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over campaign fundraising practices

Former employees claim they were pressured to donate to Republicans and later reimbursed for their contributions

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published June 3, 2021 5:35PM (EDT)

United States Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on USPS Financial Sustainability February 24, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Jim Watson-Pool/Getty Images)
United States Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on USPS Financial Sustainability February 24, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Jim Watson-Pool/Getty Images)

The FBI is investigating Louis DeJoy and the fundraising activity of his former company, a spokesman for the postmaster general confirmed to The Washington Post.

Employees at DeJoy's former company New Breed Logistics told The Post last year that DeJoy had reimbursed them for donations to Republican candidates through paycheck bonuses, which would violate federal laws against straw donations. DeJoy was appointed to head the U.S. Postal Service after he raised millions for former President Donald Trump's campaign and the Republican Party.

FBI agents have interviewed the firm's employees in recent weeks related to the donations, according to the report. Prosecutors also issued a subpoena to DeJoy himself.

"Mr. DeJoy has learned that the Department of Justice is investigating campaign contributions made by employees who worked for him when he was in the private sector," Mark Corallo, a spokesman for DeJoy, told The Post. "He has always been scrupulous in his adherence to the campaign contribution laws and has never knowingly violated them."

New Breed Logistics employees told The Post last year that they had allegedly been pressured by DeJoy and his underlings to attend GOP fundraisers or donate to Republican candidates before being paid back via bonuses.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said in April that an investigation into the North Carolina-based company's political activity was better left to federal investigators.

DeJoy rejected allegations that he had violated the law when he pressed by Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., at a hearing last year if he had reimbursed executives who donated to the Trump campaign.

"That's an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it," he said. "The answer is no."

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., later launched an inquiry into DeJoy's testimony. Maloney said at the time that DeJoy was facing "criminal exposure" stemming from the allegation "but also for lying to our committee under oath."

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, also acknowledged at the time that the allegations were "potentially a criminal offense" and the "appropriate authorities need to look at it."

DeJoy "fully cooperated with and answered the questions posed by Congress regarding these matters," Corallo, who also served as a spokesman for Trump's legal team in the Russia probe, told The Post.

"The same is true of the Postal Service Inspector General's inquiry which after a thorough investigation gave Mr. DeJoy a clean bill of health on his disclosure and divestment issues," Corallo added. "He expects nothing less in this latest matter and he intends to work with DOJ toward swiftly resolving it."

A Post analysis of the "extensive" donations from New Breed Logistics' employees found a "pattern" of donations in the same amount from multiple people on the same day. Between 2000 and 2014, The Post found that 124 employees had given more than $1 million total to Republican candidates, including many who had never previously made political contributions.

"He would ask employees to make contributions at the same time that he would say, 'I'll get it back to you down the road,'" a former employee told the outlet.

A DeJoy spokesman last year denied that he was aware that any employees had felt pressured and believed "that he has always followed campaign fundraising laws and regulations."

But The Post also noted that the federal straw-donor law has a five-year statute of limitations, making it unlikely that DeJoy could be charged for donations made in 2014 and earlier. In 2014, New Breed Logistics was acquired by XPO Logistics. DeJoy remained at XPO as an executive until 2015 and as a member of its board of directors until 2018.

The Campaign Legal Center, an advocacy group, filed a Federal Election Commission complaint alleging that the practice of reimbursing employees for political donations continued at XPO.

"Between 2015 and 2018, during DeJoy's tenure as XPO's CEO and then as a board member, campaign finance records show several instances of XPO employees contributing to the same candidate or committee, during the same period of time, and often in similar amounts," the complaint said. "DeJoy family members, including DeJoy's college-aged children, also made contributions on the same day or in the same period as those employees."

The complaint said that XPO employees and DeJoy family members "following this pattern together gave over $150,000 to the same candidate and committees, including [more than] $50,000 to Trump Victory," Trump's joint fundraising committee.

"As a company, XPO stays out of politics," Joe Checkler, a spokesman for the company, said in a statement to The Post. "Our employees have the same right as anyone to support candidates of their choosing in their free time. Whenever our employees support political candidates, they are expected to strictly follow all applicable laws."

Democrats have repeatedly called for DeJoy to either step down or be removed from his post, accusing the postmaster general of slowing down mail service in an attempt "sabotage" the mail voting expansion in last year's election. They renewed calls for the postmaster general to resign on Thursday.

"Louis DeJoy was never qualified to run USPS—an agency millions depend on," tweeted Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif. "It is alarming that he may have undermined our democracy by illegally pressuring past employees to make political donations. He must resign."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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Aggregate Donald Trump Elections Louis Dejoy Politics Republicans Usps