We’re in the middle of a pandemic that the president has made incredibly worse. That means unprecedented numbers of voters will mail their ballots this year. Yet the president opposes giving the Postal Service the money it needs, even though he admits that a lack of funds will interfere with ballots being properly delivered.
The internal watchdog at the United States Postal Service is reviewing controversial policy changes recently imposed under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and is also examining DeJoy’s compliance with federal ethics rules, according to a spokeswoman for the USPS inspector general and an aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who requested the review.
Lawmakers from both parties and postal union leaders have sounded alarms over disruptive changes instituted by DeJoy this summer, including eliminating overtime and slowing some mail delivery. Democrats claim he is intentionally undermining postal service operations to sabotage mail-in voting in the November election — a charge he denies.
Agapi Doulaveris, a spokeswoman for the USPS watchdog, told CNN in an email, “We have initiated a body of work to address the concerns raised, but cannot comment on the details.”
Last week, Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, and eight other Democratic lawmakers asked the inspector general to launch an inquiry into DeJoy on a number of fronts, including the nationwide policy changes he’s made since taking over in June, as well as whether DeJoy has “met all ethics requirements”. . . .
It’s unclear if the inspector general has launched a full-scale investigation into possible politicization at USPS by DeJoy, a Txxxx ally and Republican donor, or if it’s just reviewing the matter for Congress.
CNN first reported earlier this week that DeJoy still owns at least a $30 million equity stake in his former company — a USPS contractor — and that he recently bought stock options for Amazon, a USPS competitor [and customer]. These holdings likely create a major conflict of interest, ethics experts told CNN, though DeJoy and USPS maintain that he has complied with all federal requirements. . . .
On Thursday, Warren said on Twitter that DeJoy’s “inexcusable” stock options in Amazon should be investigated by the watchdog after CNN published its report detailing the trades included in DeJoy’s financial disclosures.
The relationship between DeJoy and President Dxxxx Txxxx has come under intense scrutiny, given Txxxx’s repeated attacks against mail-in voting and USPS’ key role in delivering ballots.
News of the watchdog review comes one day after Txxxx brazenly admitted that he opposes much-needed USPS funding because he doesn’t want to see it used for mail-in voting this November. The pandemic has led to record-breaking levels of voting-by-mail, but Txxxx has tried to restrict the method because he claims it is rife with fraud and abuse, claims that CNN has fact-checked multiple times and are largely without merit.
Democrats pounced on Txxxx’s comments. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats were pushing to include $25 billion for USPS in the next stimulus bill because that was what was requested by the bipartisan board of governors who run USPS and were appointed by Txxxx.
Further raising questions about the USPS showdown, the White House said Friday that Txxxx and DeJoy met at the White House last week, even though Txxxx said he “didn’t speak to the postmaster general” . . . a few days after their meeting.
A White House spokesman told CNN that their meeting on August 3 was “congratulatory” to celebrate DeJoy’s confirmation by the USPS board of governors, which occurred in early May. . . .
This week, DeJoy acknowledged to USPS employees that recent procedural changes have had “unintended consequences,” but described them as necessary.
“Unfortunately, this transformative initiative has had unintended consequences that impacted our overall service levels,” DeJoy wrote in a memo sent this week and obtained by CNN. . . .
Earlier this week, CNN reported on newly obtained financial documents showing that DeJoy holds a large equity stake in his former company, XPO Logistics, totaling between $30 million and $75 million. XPO is a contractor for USPS and other US government agencies.
USPS officials signed off on DeJoy’s financial filings and told CNN that he is in compliance with federal ethics rules. But several outside experts who spoke to CNN said they were shocked that ethics officials approved this arrangement, which apparently allows DeJoy to keep his XPO holdings. One expert even said, “this is a classic case for investigation by an inspector general” . . .
Raising further alarms, on the same day in June that DeJoy divested large amounts of Amazon shares, he purchased stock options giving him the right to buy new shares of Amazon at a price much lower than their current market price, according to the financial disclosures. . . .
In a tweet on Thursday, Warren blasted DeJoy, saying his decision to buy Amazon stock options was “inexcusable.” She also said the USPS inspector general “must investigate this corruption.”
Let’s see how long it takes for the president to fire the Postal Service’s inspector general.
In other news, the Postal Service sent a letter to 46 states saying “voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots” and is simultaneously “removing mail sorting machines from facilities around the country without any official explanation or reason given”.