WASHINGTON — The Justice Division is investigating the postmaster common, Louis DeJoy, over doable violations of marketing campaign finance legal guidelines whereas he was working an organization and constructing a popularity 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 yr 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 realized that the Division of Justice is investigating marketing campaign contributions made by staff who labored for him when he was within the personal sector,” mentioned the spokesman, Mark Corallo.
“He has all the time been scrupulous in his adherence to the marketing campaign contribution legal guidelines and has by no means 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 response to an individual aware of the inquiry who spoke on the situation of anonymity to reveal particulars associated to the grand jury.
Spokesmen for the Postal Service, the Justice Division and the F.B.I. declined to remark.
The Washington Put up, which reported the existence of the federal investigation into Mr. DeJoy on Thursday, reported final yr that some New Breed Logistics staff believed that Mr. DeJoy and others near him had pressured them to contribute to Republican candidates.
A few of them advised The Put up and The New York Occasions final yr that the corporate offered bonuses to staff who made contributions. Three staff advised The Occasions then that it was extensively believed that the bonuses had been meant to reimburse the political donations.
Marketing campaign finance data reveals that over a dozen management-level staff at New Breed would normally donate to the identical candidate on the identical day, usually writing checks for an an identical amount of cash.
At some point 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. Every official wrote a verify for both $2,600, the utmost allowable donation, or $1,000.
It isn’t unlawful for an employer to induce staff to contribute to political campaigns. However 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 below one other individual’s title.
It isn’t clear what time period the Justice Division investigation covers. Mr. DeJoy bought New Breed in 2014 and served on the board of the buying firm till 2018.
There’s a five-year statute of limitations for prison violations of federal marketing campaign finance regulation, that means Mr. DeJoy might solely be prosecuted for violations of that kind that befell in 2016 or later.
At a listening to final yr, Consultant Jim Cooper, Democrat of Tennessee, recommended that Mr. DeJoy had reimbursed his staff after they made political donations, an allegation that Mr. DeJoy denied.
“That’s an outrageous declare, 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 yr by slowing mail deliveries to make voting by mail in the course of the coronavirus pandemic much less engaging 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 US 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 Might that Mr. DeJoy would function postmaster common, he was generally known 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, Residents for Accountability 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.
On the time of his nomination final Might, federal filings confirmed that Mr. DeJoy had already donated about $360,000 to Trump Victory, an excellent PAC supporting Mr. Trump’s re-election bid, and hundreds extra to the Republican Nationwide 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.
Though 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 guide the financially troubled company.
Democrats considered 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.
Quickly after changing into postmaster common final June, Mr. DeJoy enacted a raft of adjustments to the Postal Service that critics mentioned made it more durable for individuals to vote by mail. He eradicated worker additional time, eliminated mail-sorting machines from postal amenities and reorganized prime leaders, adjustments that slowed mail service and raised considerations 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 adjustments had been supposed to make the Postal Service financially secure, however after a flurry of litigation, a few of these selections had been postponed.
“I’m 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 Home panel to debate the publish workplace’s service and monetary issues, Mr. DeJoy apologized for the Postal Service’s sluggish supply occasions in the course of the 2020 vacation season and vowed to make systemic enhancements.
He additionally offered a 10-year plan to overtake the Postal Service to take care of its in depth 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.