WASHINGTON — The Justice Division is investigating the postmaster basic, Louis DeJoy, over attainable violations of marketing campaign finance legal guidelines whereas he was working an organization and constructing a popularity as a high Republican donor, his spokesman mentioned on Thursday.
The investigation focuses on marketing campaign contributions made by folks employed by New Breed Logistics, the corporate in North Carolina that Mr. DeJoy led from 1983 to 2014, earlier than he was appointed postmaster basic somewhat over a 12 months in the past throughout 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 workers 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 obtained a grand-jury subpoena for data related to the investigation, in line with 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 12 months that some New Breed Logistics workers believed that Mr. DeJoy and others near him had pressured them to contribute to Republican candidates.
A few of them instructed The Put up and The New York Occasions final 12 months that senior officers on the firm had recommended that the corporate would offer bonuses to workers who made contributions. Three workers instructed The Occasions then that it was extensively believed that the bonuses have been meant to reimburse the political donations.
Marketing campaign finance information reveals that over a dozen management-level workers at New Breed would normally donate to the identical candidate on the identical day, usually writing checks for an equivalent sum of money.
In the future 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’s not unlawful for an employer to induce workers 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 underneath one other particular person’s title.
It’s not clear what time frame 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 felony violations of federal marketing campaign finance regulation, which means Mr. DeJoy might solely be prosecuted for violations of that kind that occurred in 2016 or later.
At a listening to final 12 months, Consultant Jim Cooper, Democrat of Tennessee, recommended that Mr. DeJoy had reimbursed his workers 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 12 months by slowing mail deliveries to make voting by mail throughout 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 basic for an indefinite time period.)
When the Postal Service board introduced final Could that Mr. DeJoy would function postmaster basic, he was often called a logistics trade veteran, a high political donor in Republican circles in North Carolina and a supporter of Mr. Trump’s presidency.
A left-leaning watchdog group, Residents for Duty 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 Could, 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 hundreds extra to the Republican Nationwide Committee.
Mr. DeJoy was an energetic 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 steer the financially troubled company.
Democrats considered Mr. DeJoy’s choice as a strategy to embed a Trump ally right into a high federal place who would have the ability to perform Mr. Trump’s agenda even when he misplaced the election.
Quickly after turning into postmaster basic final June, Mr. DeJoy enacted a raft of adjustments to the Postal Service that critics mentioned made it tougher for folks to vote by mail. He eradicated worker time beyond regulation, eliminated mail-sorting machines from postal services and reorganized high leaders, adjustments that slowed mail service and raised considerations that the Postal Service wouldn’t have the ability to deal with the excessive volumes of mail-in ballots that have been solid within the November election.
Mr. DeJoy argued that the adjustments have been meant to make the Postal Service financially secure, however after a flurry of litigation, a few of these choices have 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 put up workplace’s service and monetary issues, Mr. DeJoy apologized for the Postal Service’s gradual supply instances throughout 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.