Amid other concerns about Trump defunding the USPS over mail-in ballots, the organization is also experiencing record delays, removing mailboxes in places like Oregon, and more. In the middle of the chaos, Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for an investigation into corruption by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
“Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's investments in USPS competitors were already deeply problematic. But his purchase of Amazon stock options after his appointment is inexcusable. The OIGUSPS must investigate this corruption,” Warren tweeted yesterday. This comes after a group of Democrats penned a letter to Inspector General Whitcomb demanding that the mailing agency’s operational changes be investigated, asking for details on the reforms that the new postmaster general DeJoy has implemented, and how they’ve affected the service.
Warren’s tweet included a link to a CNN article, referencing the fact that DeJoy still has at least $30 million in holdings in his former company XPO Logistics, a United States Postal Service contractor. According to CNN, DeJoy also purchased stock options giving him the right to buy new shares of Amazon in June, after becoming postmaster general. DeJoy’s holdings create major conflicts of interest. Under federal law, it’s illegal for federal government employees or their spouses to have financial interest in companies that intersect with their official duties.
Experts are now raising serious concerns over DeJoy’s actions, and how they are implicated in his position. “The idea that you can be a postmaster general and hold tens of millions in stocks in a postal service contractor is pretty shocking," the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, told CNN. "It could be that he's planning on selling it, but I don't understand the delay. He has managed to divest a lot of other things. And if he wasn't prepared to sell that off, he shouldn't have taken the job."
Yet this is only one of many complications that DeJoy has had as postmaster since starting only a few short months ago. After the Postal Service’s board of governors, appointed by the president, named Louis DeJoy as the new postmaster general in May, DeJoy began heading up the organization in June. DeJoy was formerly a top Republican Party fundraiser.
In the short time since he assumed the role of postmaster, DeJoy has turned the USPS upside down. In the name of saving the USPS, DeJoy announced initiatives that would save the USPS money after it lost $2.2 billion during its second quarter this year.
From the beginning, DeJoy chose to consolidate power within the organization and restructure the USPS, removing or reassigning 23 agency leaders, including displacing two executives who oversaw day-to-day operations. DeJoy has also eliminated overtime for hundreds of thousands of employees. On top of this, he mandated that mail is kept until the next day if distribution centers are running behind, and in a memo to employees wrote, “if we cannot deliver all the mail due to call offs or shortage of people and you have no other help, the mail will not go out."
Postal workers now say that the mail is piling up in their offices and reports across the country show that mail is completely backed up. DeJoy, however, persists that he’s doing what’s best for the organization in the long-run. “By running our operations on time and on schedule, and by not incurring unnecessary overtime or other costs, we will enhance our ability to be sustainable and to be able to continue to provide high-quality, affordable service,” DeJoy said.
Inexplicably, mail sorting machines have also been removed from many facilities around the country — the very machines that would help sort mail-in ballots for the 2020 election.
Despite DeJoy’s claims that he’s here to help, there are obvious concerns over the new reality at the USPS. Mark Dimondstein, who worked as a clerk at a post office in Greensboro, North Carolina for 33 years and is now president of the American Postal Workers Union, is especially worried. “These are changes aimed at changing the entire culture of USPS,” Dimondstein said. “The culture I grew up with, and of generations before me, is that you never leave mail behind. You serve the customer, you get mail to the customer. Prompt, reliable, and efficient.”