WASHINGTON — A top ethics lawyer to former President George W. Bush on Monday decried Louis DeJoy’s appointment to postmaster general and called for a congressional investigation into allegations of criminal activity.
Richard Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer and associate counsel to Bush, said DeJoy should not have been allowed to take control of an agency with which he has large financial ties. He also called on the Postal Service to release documents related to DeJoy’s hiring so the committee can conduct “a proper investigation” into the matter.
In 2014, DeJoy’s former company, New Breed Logistics, based in North Carolina, merged with XPO Logistics, a Postal Service contractor.
DeJoy served on the company’s board of directors until 2018 but still holds a major financial stake in the business, according to The New York Times.
Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota law school, questioned how DeJoy could ethically run the post office while, at the same time, owning millions of dollars in stock in a company that delivers the mail.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Painter said during a House oversight hearing on potential conflicts of interest under DeJoy’s tenure, which began three months ago.
Painter, who was responsible for ensuring that senior appointees in the Bush administration didn’t run afoul of federal laws barring conflicts of interest, said such a conflict of interest wouldn’t have been tolerated. That would have been a “no-go,” Painter said.
David Fineman, former chair of the Postal Service’s board of governors, also questioned the ethics of DeJoy’s appointment. The Postal Service shouldn’t hire people with apparent conflicts of interest, said Fineman, who now heads the board of the Fair Elections Center.
The hearing comes amid Democratic allegations that the Trump administration is trying to suppress votes during a pandemic in which the Postal Service will serve as “election central” because Americans will be reluctant to vote in person for fear of spreading infection.
President Donald Trump told Fox News this summer that he opposes some funding for the Postal Service because he doesn’t want it used for mail-in votes, repeating his claim that it would lead to “fraudulent” results.
DeJoy, a GOP mega donor and Trump ally, has ushered in sweeping changes to the agency since taking the job in June but has called allegations that they were intended to sway the election results “outrageous.”
Instead, he has characterized the slowdown as a temporary service decline and said changes to overtime, retail hours and the location of mail processing machines and blue mailboxes were made to cut costs and streamline operations — not sway the elections.
This summer, DeJoy said he would suspend some of his moves until after the elections to avoid the appearance of impropriety. He also said he wouldn’t close existing mail processing facilities and would use “standby” resources in October to meet mail surges.
But Democrats have said the delays threaten the integrity of the elections and are depriving Americans of timely delivery of medicine, paychecks and other essentials. Read more