Who Is Louis DeJoy? U.S. Postmaster General In Spotlight Ahead Of 2020 Election : NPR


U.S. Postmaster Common Louis DeJoy arrives at an Aug. 5 assembly on the workplace of Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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U.S. Postmaster Common Louis DeJoy arrives at an Aug. 5 assembly on the workplace of Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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Louis DeJoy, relying on whom you discuss to, is both a Republican political operative beholden to President Trump, or a savvy businessman who’s the correct individual to repair what’s damaged on the U.S. Postal Service. When senators query him this week, they are going to wish to know which narrative is nearer to the reality — and whether or not he’s suited to go the service at the moment.

A longtime Republican megadonor, DeJoy has a background within the logistics and transport sector. A authorities contract years in the past with the Postal Service helped him launch his enterprise. Now he leads that very same company and finds himself on the heart of a struggle over whether or not voters’ ballots will likely be delivered and counted pretty on this yr’s presidential election.

Since he began within the job June 15, DeJoy has launched a sequence of organizational shake-ups which have attracted bipartisan criticism that the modifications would delay mail supply simply as extra Individuals are anticipated to vote by mail. Earlier this month, he introduced an “organizational realignment” on the company, which lost $9 billion final yr. These modifications included a discount in worker extra time hours and the elimination of postal-sorting machines.

Then Trump weighed in. He stated that he opposes additional funding for the Postal Service as a result of he needs to make it more durable to increase voting by mail — ostensibly to stop voter fraud, for which there isn’t a proof.

Amid the furor that adopted, DeJoy pledged to place modifications on maintain till after the election.

“To keep away from even the looks of any influence on election mail, I’m suspending these initiatives till after the election is concluded,” DeJoy said in a statement.

Ronald Stroman, a former deputy postmaster basic, told NPR’s All Issues Thought of that, no matter DeJoy’s motivations, “The query is, what’s the impact of what he’s doing? And if the impact is to gradual the mail, to probably disenfranchise folks, voters throughout the nation, then I feel we’re all proper to say these are initiatives that ought to actually be halted.”

A spokesperson for the Postal Service declined to remark for this story.

Postmasters and patronage

Way back to the 2000s, critics have accused DeJoy of utilizing his political connections for revenue, on condition that his former firm relied on authorities contracts — together with from the Postal Service — for a considerable portion of its income.

Through the years, his home in North Carolina, nicknamed “The Castle” — not least for its staircase painted with 24-karat gold leaf — turned a fascinating location for Republican fundraisers. He hosted fundraisers there for numerous outstanding politicians, that includes friends comparable to Sen. Richard Burr, the late Sen. John McCain, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former New York Metropolis Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Through the previous 5 years, DeJoy has contributed seven figures in political donations: $3.2 million to teams such because the Republican Nationwide Committee, together with greater than $1.2 million to help Trump’s election campaigns. Different recipients embrace the Nationwide Republican Senatorial Committee, GOP political motion committees and particular person candidates.

Each he and his spouse are well-connected: His partner, Aldona Wos, is the previous ambassador to Estonia and headed the North Carolina Division of Well being and Human Providers. Within the Trump administration, she has been nominated to develop into the U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Then-President George W. Bush stands beside Aldona Wos upon arriving on the airport in Tallinn, Estonia, in November 2006. Wos, DeJoy’s spouse, was the U.S. ambassador to Estonia at the moment.

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Then-President George W. Bush stands beside Aldona Wos upon arriving on the airport in Tallinn, Estonia, in November 2006. Wos, DeJoy’s spouse, was the U.S. ambassador to Estonia at the moment.

Raigo Pajula/AFP through Getty Photos

Way back, DeJoy criticized Trump’s management model. “That perspective that you’re crucial individual is self-destructive,” he advised the Greensboro, N.C., Information & Report in 2005, referring to the instance Trump set on his tv present The Apprentice. “I might be fired.”

However that is water below the bridge.

In October 2017, DeJoy landed the last word visitor, internet hosting a fundraiser for the president of america at his property. Trump talked about DeJoy by identify in two of his subsequent appearances in North Carolina: as soon as in September 2019 and one other time in February. “Louis DeJoy, one of the profitable folks,” Trump stated on one event.

“I like politics. I like supporting candidates,” DeJoy advised the Triad Enterprise Journal in 2016, although he dominated out getting personally concerned by working for workplace. Voting data point out that DeJoy voted by mail in North Carolina within the 2004 basic election, in accordance with Goal Sensible, a political information firm that works primarily with Democrats.

DeJoy’s deep political connections have raised a easy query: Having donated hundreds of thousands to the Republican Social gathering and the Trump marketing campaign, may DeJoy do the president’s bidding as postmaster basic?

“Most postmasters have come up by way of the ranks throughout the Postal Service. I do not view it as a legal responsibility,” stated Rick Geddes, a professor at Cornell College and a visiting scholar on the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “I feel it would convey recent managerial views into the operation of the Postal Service that could possibly be good in the long term.”

However Geddes acknowledged that DeJoy’s background performs a job in elevating suspicions about his motives for postal reform.

When DeJoy was first appointed, it appeared that Trump was extra within the submit workplace for enterprise causes than political ones. The president incessantly criticized the company, alleging that it provides preferential remedy to on-line retailers comparable to Amazon, whose CEO, Jeff Bezos, is a frequent goal of the president’s assaults.

Tim Stretton, a coverage analyst on the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, stated DeJoy’s historical past of political contributions raises questions on the place his final allegiances lie.

“The truth that he was a transparent political donor to the president raises the query: Who’s he working for?” Stretton stated. “He has clear political leanings that favors this administration, which raises questions. Why was he appointed within the first place?”

How DeJoy obtained the job

DeJoy’s path to the job of postmaster basic was made attainable by the bipartisan group of males who make up the Postal Service’s board of governors, all of whom had been nominated by Trump and had been subsequently confirmed by the Senate.

The board of governors is just like an organization’s board of administrators — it oversees Postal Service spending, handles long-term planning and selects the postmaster basic. 4 Republicans and two Democrats make up the present board, a number of of whom come from enterprise backgrounds.

The board’s chairman, Robert “Mike” Duncan, was confirmed in 2018, and is finest generally known as a longtime Republican political operative and ally of Republican Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. His son, Robert M. Duncan Jr., can also be a part of the Trump administration — the president named him U.S. attorney for the Japanese District of Kentucky.

Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, heart, speaks with longtime ally Robert “Mike” Duncan, the present chairman of the US Postal Service board of governors, forward of the 2016 Republican Nationwide Conference in Cleveland.

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Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, heart, speaks with longtime ally Robert “Mike” Duncan, the present chairman of the US Postal Service board of governors, forward of the 2016 Republican Nationwide Conference in Cleveland.

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg through Getty Photos

Duncan’s historical past in partisan politics, previous statements about alleged voter fraud and monetary connections to DeJoy might come below intense scrutiny from congressional Democrats. Together with DeJoy, Duncan is about to testify earlier than Congress on Monday.

“I’m proud to say that I’ve all the time been and all the time will likely be a celebration man,” Duncan said in 2007 when he took over as chair of the Republican Nationwide Committee.

Duncan led the Republican Social gathering in the course of the 2008 presidential election, and at occasions utilizing rhetoric just like Trump, repeatedly claimed that Democrats engaged in widespread voter fraud. In a single fundraising e-mail, Duncan said Democrats “will quickly be attempting to pad their totals at poll packing containers throughout the nation with votes from voters that don’t exist.” After the election, as a handful of congressional races remained undecided, Duncan cited “irregularities” and warned that “the Obama-Biden Democrats and their liberal particular curiosity allies try to steal these election victories from Republicans.”

On his official Postal Service biography, Duncan touts the truth that as RNC chair, he “raised an unprecedented $428 million and grew the donor base to 1.eight million.”

A kind of donors was DeJoy.

The long run postmaster basic gave practically $30,000 to the RNC throughout Duncan’s tenure, in accordance with Federal Election Fee records.

After the 2008 election, Duncan directed a Republican information agency and have become chairman of two main Republican Tremendous PACs — the Senate Management Fund and American Crossroads, in accordance with records he submitted throughout his Senate affirmation. Each Tremendous PACs have spent tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} supporting Republican candidates and opposing Democrats, together with a number of members of the Senate committee that oversees the Postal Service. American Crossroads additionally received $25,000 from DeJoy in 2016 throughout Duncan’s tenure there.

Duncan stays a member of the board of each organizations, in accordance with Jack Pandol, a spokesperson for each teams. “Our boards, like most boards, oversee organizational insurance policies, monetary administration, senior govt compensation and administration efficiency — however usually are not concerned in directing day-to-day operations or initiatives,” Pandol stated.

Trump nominated Duncan to his function overseeing the Postal Service in 2017, and the Senate unanimously confirmed him the subsequent yr.

In late 2019, Duncan and his colleagues on the Postal Service board of governors had been put in control of discovering a substitute for then-Postmaster Common Megan J. Brennan, who had announced her retirement.

The board has stated it whittled down an inventory of greater than 200 potential executives to 14 candidates, who had been interviewed. A smaller group of finalists then went by way of extra thorough vetting. Other than DeJoy, the identities of these candidates stay unknown. NPR reached out to Chelsea Companions, an out of doors agency that helped vet these candidates, however its managing director declined to remark, citing a nondisclosure settlement. One other agency that labored on the method, Russell Reynolds Associates, can also be sure by a nondisclosure settlement, in accordance with Senate Democrats.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was additionally desirous to be saved “apprised” of the search “as acceptable,” in accordance with records obtained by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and met with the board in February.

“Neither I nor every other Treasury official performed any function in recruiting or suggesting Mr. DeJoy for the place of Postmaster Common,” Mnuchin stated in a letter on Thursday. “The choice was made by the Board alone.”

Then, the month earlier than the choice was introduced, one of many board’s members, David C. Williams, abruptly resigned. Williams later told congressional investigators, “I had expressed issues after every of the interviews with Mr. Louis DeJoy. I urged {that a} background investigation be performed. And once I resigned, I cited it as certainly one of my causes for submitting my resignation to Chairman Robert Duncan.”

However on the time, the explanations for Williams’ resignation had been unknown.

DeJoy and Duncan are prone to face skeptical questioning from Congress concerning the hiring course of. Senate Minority Chief Chuck Schumer has raised issues about Mnuchin’s function “by way of conferences with particular person Governors in addition to telephone calls with teams of Governors.” Democratic Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois and Katie Porter of California have additionally demanded solutions from the board about Williams’ resignation, suggesting that the Postal Service’s management has not but revealed the complete reality behind the choice course of.

Finally, in Might, the board introduced its choose of DeJoy. At a public meeting, John Barger, one of many Republican members of the board, rejected any suggestion that DeJoy was picked due to his political views or connections.

John Barger, who serves on the USPS board of governors, speaks in the course of the Bloomberg Hyperlink Pensions and Endowment Portfolio Methods Convention in Los Angeles in 2011.

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John Barger, who serves on the USPS board of governors, speaks in the course of the Bloomberg Hyperlink Pensions and Endowment Portfolio Methods Convention in Los Angeles in 2011.

Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg through Getty Photos

The board cited DeJoy’s longtime work in logistics, and the truth that his corporations had served as subcontractors for the Postal Service.

“The committee needs to emphasise that Mr. DeJoy’s choice by our board of governors was unanimous,” Barger stated. “Each Republicans and Democrats embraced this determination. … Louis DeJoy represents the custom of postmaster generals who’ve labored their approach up in life, [and] earned their stripes to steer a company so great and distinctive as america Postal Service.”

A giant break — and a roster of complaints

DeJoy made his fortune with New Breed Logistics, a small family-owned trucking firm on Lengthy Island run by his father. In response to DeJoy’s personal account, the corporate initially consisted of three vehicles and a few trailers. When DeJoy completed school, he advised himself he was going to run the corporate for a yr or two to get it again on its ft after which go to graduate or regulation faculty. As a substitute, he ended up launching the corporate in a completely new path — warehousing and crating supplies for supply.

The corporate, which by then was known as New Breed Logistics, obtained its massive break from the very group DeJoy is now main: the U.S. Postal Service.

Again in 1992, USPS was launching a pilot challenge aimed toward repairing and inspecting mailbags and fixing the carts and bins that maintain stacked mail. The concept was to repair the baggage and packing containers and ship them again to submit places of work to be reused. The job was profitable sufficient for DeJoy to maneuver his dad’s outdated firm from New York to Greensboro, N.C. He finally arrange 22 of those mailbag websites across the nation.

A girl walks previous two mailboxes close to a submit workplace this week in New York Metropolis.

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A girl walks previous two mailboxes close to a submit workplace this week in New York Metropolis.

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DeJoy’s subsequent massive contract was with Verizon. Nearly any time Verizon sends out a brand new cellphone, it’s shipped from New Breed, or its eventual father or mother firm, XPO Logistics. DeJoy additionally did logistics work for the Division of Protection and large Fortune 500 corporations comparable to Boeing.

All this work gave DeJoy expertise with the Postal Service. Barger of the Postal Service board of governors has famous that DeJoy’s firm obtained the High quality Provider Award from the Postal Service in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998. “He was a extremely, extremely achieved contractor of the Postal Service,” Barger stated.

DeJoy was CEO of New Breed Logistics from 1983 to 2014, when a Connecticut-based freight firm, XPO Logistics, acquired the agency for $615 million. DeJoy remained as CEO of its provide chain enterprise for one more yr, to see the corporate by way of the transition, after which served on the XPO board till 2018.

His tenure at each New Breed and XPO is marked by a roster of litigation over employment discrimination, wage- and hour-discrimination, sexual harassment and office security.

Within the mid-’90s, when DeJoy was New Breed’s CEO, the corporate landed a contract to run a U.S. Military provide terminal in Compton, Calif. The native union accused DeJoy of union busting and making a concerted effort to not rehire longshoremen and warehouse staff who had been already working on the terminal. In 1997, the Nationwide Labor Relations Board discovered that New Breed’s hiring practices had been motivated by anti-union animus. What’s extra, the NLRB discovered that DeJoy was a central determine in these hiring selections.

In 2008, 27,000 members of the Worldwide Affiliation of Machinists working at Boeing went on strike for practically two months over the airline producer’s plans to outsource 5,000 union jobs — jobs delivering components supply and sustaining amenities — to New Breed, which was a nonunion store. DeJoy was CEO at New Breed on the time. Finally, staff returned to their jobs after Boeing agreed to maintain the 5,000 jobs whereas nonetheless permitting New Breed to ship components to Boeing factories.

In 2008, 27,000 Boeing machinists went on strike over the airline producer’s plans to outsource 5,000 union jobs to New Breed. DeJoy was CEO at New Breed on the time.

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In 2008, 27,000 Boeing machinists went on strike over the airline producer’s plans to outsource 5,000 union jobs to New Breed. DeJoy was CEO at New Breed on the time.

Robert Giroux/Getty Photos

In 2013, the Equal Employment Alternative Fee introduced swimsuit towards New Breed over sexual harassment and discrimination towards workers at certainly one of its Memphis warehouses. A Tennessee jury awarded $1.5 million to 4 New Breed short-term warehouse staff, who alleged not solely that they’d been harassed but additionally fired for lodging their complaints. Tasha Murrell, who was working at that Memphis warehouse on the time, stated she skilled that sexual harassment firsthand.

“I’ve labored there a number of years. I imply, it’s a horrible firm to work for,” she advised NPR. “I witnessed firsthand sexual harassment, being pregnant discrimination, poor working situations.”

New Breed was in the news again when The New York Occasions launched an investigation into being pregnant discrimination on the identical New Breed/XPO warehouse the place Murrell was working. The story targeted on 4 girls working for the corporate, all of whom had suffered miscarriages after supervisors refused their requests for mild obligation throughout their pregnancies. Murrell was a type of girls. This came about when DeJoy was nonetheless CEO at New Breed.

In an announcement, an XPO spokesperson stated the corporate launched an unbiased investigation on the warehouse and applied new packages and insurance policies to deal with the problems of being pregnant care and household depart.

When XPO acquired DeJoy’s firm in 2014 and took over the Memphis plant, Murrell stated that staff hoped that situations would enhance, however they did not.

“This warehouse is rather like a primary brick constructing with no home windows, with a small quantity of air flow, no heating, no air-con. I imply, it is a horrible firm. I name it a modern-day plantation sweatshop,” Murrell stated.

These do not look like outlier episodes. Since 2000, New Breed/XPO and its subsidiaries have racked up 17 wage-and-hour violations, with fines totaling $41 million. They’ve been fined half a dozen occasions for employment discrimination and labor relations issues, and 30 occasions for well being and security violations.

DeJoy retired as chief govt of XPO’s provide chain enterprise in 2015 and remained a member of the XPO board till two years in the past. Final yr, XPO closed the Memphis warehouse the place Murrell labored, saying it was a enterprise determination. The corporate stated it discovered jobs at different Memphis warehouses for the displaced staff.

DeJoy might not have foreseen the political storm that has erupted over the actions he is taken within the few months he is led the U.S. Postal Service. However as a businessman, he’s no stranger to controversy.

NPR’s Barbara Van Woerkom contributed to this report.



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