Postal chief in Dems’ crosshairs has long record of Republican contributions

Louis DeJoy has given money to 15 current GOP members of Congress

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, center, leaves the Capitol on Aug. 5 after meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, center, leaves the Capitol on Aug. 5 after meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted August 20, 2020 at 4:33pm

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump megadonor set to appear before congressional committees starting Friday to explain his controversial changes to postal operations, also has longstanding financial ties to Republicans on Capitol Hill.

DeJoy has given more than $214,000 to 15 Republicans currently serving in Congress, according to a CQ Roll Call review of Federal Election Commission records.

That includes $36,000 in contributions since 2014 to committees supporting North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis. DeJoy has also given $8,100 to Arizona’s Martha McSally since 2018; and gave $5,200 in 2018 to the Senate campaign of Missouri’s Josh Hawley. DeJoy contributed $37,100 to the unsuccessful 2012 presidential bid by Mitt Romney, now a Utah senator.

Representatives for Tillis, McSally and Romney did not respond to requests for comment.

Hawley and Romney both sit on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs panel that on Friday will examine the finances and operations of the U.S. Postal Service amid the coronavirus pandemic and its role in upcoming elections.

Hawley spokeswoman Kelli Ford said DeJoy’s contributions would not affect the senator’s questioning of the postmaster general Friday.

“Senator Hawley takes his oversight responsibility very seriously. Unlike the Democrats, he isn’t interested in playing politics with the Postal Service,” Ford said in an email.

When asked if voters should be able to mail in their ballots, Ford said: “Missouri already has widespread absentee voting in place. Senator Hawley believes it is vital that absentee ballots are sent on time to voters who have requested them, and that they can be delivered back through the mail service in a timely fashion to be counted. Senator Hawley is opposed to universal mail-in ballots.”

Sens. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, and Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, introduced legislation in July that would provide $25 billion to cover Postal Service losses. In a statement Thursday, Collins and Feinstein called on Senate leaders to quickly take up their bill.

Hawley is “reviewing the legislation,” his spokeswoman said, noting that the Trump administration recently made $10 billion available through a loan to the Postal Service, which has not been spent.

Senate GOP leaders this week circulated coronavirus relief legislation that would turn the $10 billion loan into a grant if the Postal Service’s financial condition deteriorates.

[Scaled-back GOP aid package would write off $10 billion postal loan]

The White House and Senate GOP leaders have opposed the higher level of funding backed by Democrats and some Republicans, including Collins and Montana Sen. Steve Daines, arguing it is unnecessary and won’t affect the agency’s ability to deliver election-related mail. Collins and Daines are among the most vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection this fall.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who’s on the November ballot in Kentucky, got $5,600 from DeJoy in 2019.

Since 2016, DeJoy donated $1.24 million to committees supporting President Donald Trump. Of that total, he gave $361,000 to Trump Victory in 2020.

Unorthodox choice

The Postal Service’s board of governors, all Trump appointees, announced on May 6 that DeJoy was their pick for postmaster general. DeJoy, who is the fifth agency chief since 1971 to come from the private sector, began his tenure June 15.

The former postmaster general, Megan Brennan, announced her retirement in October 2019. The board of governors said it vetted over 200 candidates to replace Brennan before settling on DeJoy.

Though DeJoy didn’t have prior Postal Service experience, he’s cited his familiarity with the agency over many years in business. He built New Breed Logistics from a small transportation firm to a large logistics company with thousands of employees. It was based in New York in the 1980s, but then transitioned to North Carolina the following decade.

DeJoy’s company contracted with the Postal Service for decades. New Breed was acquired by XPO Logistics in 2014, and DeJoy served as CEO for XPO’s supply chain business in the Americas. He retired in 2015 and joined XPO’s board of directors, a position he held until 2018.

He has a degree in business administration from Stetson University and lives in Greensboro, N.C., with his wife, Aldona Wos.

Trump nominated Wos to be U.S. ambassador to Canada earlier this year. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 29 favorably reported her nomination to the floor for a confirmation vote, which has not yet occurred.

North Carolina GOP Reps. Virginia Foxx and Mark Walker are both recipients of DeJoy’s political contributions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

DeJoy has contributed over $100,000 to seven current House Republicans, one of whom, North Carolina’s Virginia Foxx, will be questioning him at Monday’s House Oversight and Reform hearing on protecting the timely delivery of mail-in ballots, medicine and other mail. Since 2006, DeJoy has funneled $5,700 to Foxx.

Representatives for Foxx did not respond to a request for comment.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the McCarthy Victory Fund received $37,800 from DeJoy this year. McCarthy criticized Democrats for concocting a false narrative around the operations of the Postal Service and its capabilities for the upcoming election.

“Stop promoting irresponsible and baseless conspiracy theories about the Postal Service for political gain,” the California Republican wrote Wednesday in a tweet directed at Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “It is a manufactured crisis that is now putting USPS employees in real danger.”

Into the spotlight

The role of the Postal Service has recently been thrust into the spotlight as Democratic leaders in Congress demand DeJoy reverse actions they allege have already hollowed out the agency’s operations and could undermine the legitimacy of the presidential election in November. These include moves to scale back overtime and post office hours, and eliminate mail sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other agency infrastructure.

DeJoy issued a statement Tuesday in which he pledged that his agency was ready to handle the mail-in ballots for the elections, facilities would not close and mailboxes would remain in place.

Pelosi is calling the House back into session Saturday to vote on a bill that would inject $25 billion into the Postal Service and prevent DeJoy from backtracking on his reversal earlier this week.

“The Postal Service is Election Central during the pandemic, and Democrats will not allow the President to force Americans to choose between their health and their vote,” the speaker said in a statement Wednesday.

[Postal Service bill unveiled in House as Democrats ponder sweeteners]

House GOP leaders said they oppose the legislation and are urging their members to vote “no.”

John J. Pitney Jr., a professor of American politics at Claremont McKenna College, said DeJoy’s history as a GOP donor plays into Democrats’ attacks, including at the hearings Friday and Monday. “I suspect we’re going to be hearing a lot about these contributions, from the Democrats,” he said.

Pitney said it’s not unusual for lawmakers to be across the table from people with whom they’ve had political involvement.

“But under the circumstances, this adds to the Democratic narrative that DeJoy is not your typical occupant of this job — that he’s a political operative,” he said. “It’s installing a political operative to do a political job, and that’s different. And that’s something we haven’t seen before.”

Pitney is a former Republican who wrote in a 2017 USA Today op-ed that he changed his registration to independent after Trump won presidency. “From the start of the campaign, I knew that I could never vote for such a person,” he wrote.

Sitting GOP lawmakers who have received contributions from DeJoy are listed below.

Senate: $106,650

  • Josh Hawley of Missouri: $5,200 to Josh Hawley for Senate in 2018.
  • Martha McSally of Arizona: $8,100 to McSally for Senate Inc. since 2018.
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina: $36,000 to the Thom Tillis Victory Committee, Tillis Majority Committee and Tillis’ campaign committee since 2014.
  • Mitch McConnell of Kentucky: $5,600 to McConnell Senate Committee in 2019.
  • Richard M. Burr of North Carolina: $7,650 to the Richard Burr Committee since 2004.
  • Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: $5,000 to Team Graham Inc. in 2013.
  • Mitt Romney of Utah: $37,100 to Romney Victory Inc. and Romney for President Inc. in 2012.
  • John Thune of South Dakota: $2,000 to John Thune for U.S. Senate in 2004.

House: $108,190

  • Virginia Foxx of North Carolina: $5,700 to Virginia Foxx for Congress since 2006.
  • Ted Budd of North Carolina: $33,100 to Ted Budd for Congress and Budd Harris Victory Fund since 2016.
  • Mark Walker of North Carolina: $21,700 to Walker 4 NC since 2014.
  • Kevin McCarthy of California: $37,800 to Kevin McCarthy for Congress and McCarthy Victory Fund in 2020.
  • Richard Hudson of North Carolina: $6,100 to Hudson for Congress since 2017.
  • Dan Bishop of North Carolina: $2,800 to Bishop for Congress in 2019.
  • Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington: $990 to Cathy McMorris for Congress in 2004.

Other donations

DeJoy gave $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani for his failed 2008 presidential bid. Giuliani is Trump’s personal lawyer.

DeJoy has given to Democrats in the past, including presidential candidates. He directed $500 to former Vice President Walter Mondale in 1984 and $1,000 to Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis in 1988.

In 1986, DeJoy contributed $500 to Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., and $500 to Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, D-Mass. Kennedy is the father of current Massachusetts Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, who is challenging Sen. Edward J. Markey in a Sept. 1 Democratic primary. Kennedy got a surprise, high-profile endorsement on Thursday from Pelosi.