The House Democrats said Tuesday they would investigate whether Postmaster General Louis DeJoy encouraged employees of his previous business to contribute to Republican candidates and then reimbursed them under the guise of rewards in breach of campaign finance laws.
Five people who worked for DeJoy's former New Breed Logistics company were asked by DeJoy's aides or DeJoy himself to write checks and participate in fundraisers at his mansion in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Washington Post reported. Two former employees told the newspaper that DeJoy would later give larger rewards for reimbursing contributions.
It's not illegal to encourage employees to contribute to candidates, but it's illegal to reimburse them in order to avoid contribution limits for federal campaigns.
Carolyn Maloney MP, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement on Tuesday: "If the allegations are correct, DeJoy could face criminal prosecution – not only for his actions in North Carolina, but also for lying on oath to our committee." . ”
She was referring to DeJoy's testimony to her committee last month when he emphatically denied that he had repaid executives for their contribution to Trump's campaign.
Maloney, a New York Democrat, urged the Postal Service's Board of Governors to immediately suspend DeJoy, whom they "should never have chosen".
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., Chairman of the Board's Government Operations Subcommittee, said DeJoy had "repeatedly broken the confidence of the American people and must resign or be fired."
Monty Hagler, a private spokesperson for DeJoy, said in a statement that DeJoy was unaware that workers were under pressure to make donations. Hagler also said that DeJoy believes he has always followed the laws and regulations about raising funds for campaigns.
President Donald Trump said Monday that DeJoy, a key donor from Trump and other Republicans, should lose his job if campaign funding irregularities are exposed. "If it turns out he's done something wrong," Trump told reporters, an official like DeJoy should "always" lose his job.
But White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows dismissed the allegations as political.
"Never underestimate the ability of Congress to open an investigation 60 days after a presidential election," he said in the White House on Tuesday.
Meadows called DeJoy "an honorable man" and said he was sure DeJoy would work with investigators. "We serve in a great country where you are innocent until proven guilty, especially if you are blamed for that guilt by members of Congress," said Meadows, who served seven years in Congress before becoming chief of staff in March.
DeJoy is already facing an independent congressional scrutiny of changes to the US Postal Service that fear the delivery of postal ballot papers for the November 3 election will be slowed.
DeJoy was blamed for the postal service in June after a career in logistics and launched a series of policy changes that delayed the postal service and sparked concerns about the agency's ability to process a deluge of postal ballot papers expected this fall become coronavirus fears.
The Oversight Committee recently summoned DeJoy over records of widespread delays in mail delivery that have put the postal service in the political spotlight.
Associate press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this story.