WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is investigating the postmaster common, Louis DeJoy, over potential violations of marketing campaign finance legal guidelines whereas he was working an organization and constructing a repute as a prime Republican donor, his spokesman mentioned on Thursday.
The investigation focuses on marketing campaign contributions made by individuals employed by New Breed Logistics, the corporate in North Carolina that Mr. DeJoy led from 1983 to 2014, earlier than he was appointed postmaster common somewhat over a 12 months in the past in the course of the administration of President Donald J. Trump. Mr. DeJoy was a number one donor to Mr. Trump within the 2016 marketing campaign.
“Mr. DeJoy has learned that the Department of Justice is investigating campaign contributions made by employees who worked for him when he was in the private sector,” mentioned the spokesman, Mark Corallo.
“He has always been scrupulous in his adherence to the campaign contribution laws and has never knowingly violated them,” Mr. Corallo mentioned. He added that Mr. DeJoy was cooperating with the inquiry.
Mr. DeJoy has acquired a grand-jury subpoena for data linked to the investigation, in line with an individual acquainted with the inquiry who spoke on the situation of anonymity to reveal particulars associated to the grand jury.
Spokesmen for the Postal Service, the Justice Department and the F.B.I. declined to remark.
The Washington Post, which reported the existence of the federal investigation into Mr. DeJoy on Thursday, reported final 12 months that some New Breed Logistics workers believed that Mr. DeJoy and others near him had pressured them to contribute to Republican candidates.
Some of them instructed The Post and The New York Times final 12 months that senior officers on the firm had advised that the corporate would offer bonuses to workers who made contributions. Three workers instructed The Times then that it was extensively believed that the bonuses had been meant to reimburse the political donations.
Campaign finance data exhibits that over a dozen management-level workers at New Breed would normally donate to the identical candidate on the identical day, typically writing checks for an an identical amount of cash.
One day in October 2014, for instance, 20 midlevel and senior officers on the firm donated a complete of $37,600 to the marketing campaign of Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, who was working to unseat a Democratic incumbent. Each official wrote a test for both $2,600, the utmost allowable donation, or $1,000.
It is just not unlawful for an employer to induce workers to contribute to political campaigns. But it’s a violation of marketing campaign finance regulation for a person or firm to reimburse donations — in impact working round political contribution limits by making extra donations underneath one other individual’s title.
It is just not clear what time frame the Justice Department investigation covers. Mr. DeJoy bought New Breed in 2014 and served on the board of the buying firm till 2018.
There is a five-year statute of limitations for prison violations of federal marketing campaign finance regulation, which means Mr. DeJoy may solely be prosecuted for violations of that kind that passed off in 2016 or later.
At a listening to final 12 months, Representative Jim Cooper, Democrat of Tennessee, advised that Mr. DeJoy had reimbursed his workers after they made political donations, an allegation that Mr. DeJoy denied.
“That’s an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it,” Mr. DeJoy mentioned.
The investigation into Mr. DeJoy follows months of questions from Democrats over whether or not he had used his place overseeing the Postal Service to assist Mr. Trump’s re-election marketing campaign final 12 months by slowing mail deliveries to make voting by mail in the course of the coronavirus pandemic much less enticing and dependable. Mr. DeJoy has denied taking any steps to discourage voting by mail.
The Biden administration has made clear that it’s eager to see newly elected members of the United States Postal Service board take away Mr. DeJoy from his place. (The Postal Service’s board of governors, who’re appointed by the president, select the postmaster common for an indefinite time period.)
When the Postal Service board introduced final May that Mr. DeJoy would function postmaster common, he was referred to as a logistics trade veteran, a prime political donor in Republican circles in North Carolina and a supporter of Mr. Trump’s presidency.
A left-leaning watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, estimated that Mr. DeJoy had donated greater than $2.5 million to Republican state events, committees and candidates from 2016 to 2020.
At the time of his nomination final May, federal filings confirmed that Mr. DeJoy had already donated about $360,000 to Trump Victory, a brilliant PAC supporting Mr. Trump’s re-election bid, and 1000’s extra to the Republican National Committee.
Mr. DeJoy was an lively Republican donor for years. His spouse, Aldona Wos, was tapped by the George W. Bush administration to function the ambassador to Estonia in 2004 and by the Trump administration to function the ambassador to Canada in 2020.
Although Mr. DeJoy’s logistics firm had served as a contractor for the Postal Service, critics argued that his lack of direct Postal Service expertise made him unqualified to steer the financially troubled company.
Democrats seen Mr. DeJoy’s choice as a option to embed a Trump ally right into a prime federal place who would be capable of perform Mr. Trump’s agenda even when he misplaced the election.
Soon after turning into postmaster common final June, Mr. DeJoy enacted a raft of modifications to the Postal Service that critics mentioned made it more durable for individuals to vote by mail. He eradicated worker time beyond regulation, eliminated mail-sorting machines from postal services and reorganized prime leaders, modifications that slowed mail service and raised issues that the Postal Service wouldn’t be capable of deal with the excessive volumes of mail-in ballots that had been forged within the November election.
Mr. DeJoy argued that the modifications had been supposed to make the Postal Service financially steady, however after a flurry of litigation, a few of these choices had been postponed.
“I am not engaged in sabotaging the election,” Mr. DeJoy mentioned. He known as such allegations a “false narrative.”
At a listening to in February earlier than the identical House panel to debate the put up workplace’s service and monetary issues, Mr. DeJoy apologized for the Postal Service’s gradual supply occasions in the course of the 2020 vacation season and vowed to make systemic enhancements.
He additionally introduced a 10-year plan to overtake the Postal Service to take care of its intensive monetary troubles. It stays unclear whether or not the Mr. Biden’s nominees to serve on the Postal Service’s board will take away him.
Alan Rappeport, Catie Edmondson and Luke Broadwater contributed reporting.