Louis DeJoy didn't need another new controversy, but NBC News reported yesterday on new documents that detail more than a dozen conflicts of interest the postmaster general has faced "because of his and his family's investments in a number of companies closely tied to the U.S. Postal Service."
The documents, which detail DeJoy's investments and initial efforts regarding potential conflicts of interest, were obtained by the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, through a Freedom of Information Act request that was ultimately fulfilled by court order. They show that DeJoy had conflicts of interest relating to the company where he served as a chief executive, XPO Logistics, as well as 13 other major companies that have relationships with the Postal Service.
The U.S. Postal Service said DeJoy acted in compliance with ethics regulations and followed a 60-day review by the Office of Ethics, which concluded Aug. 14, 2020. That said, the NBC News report added that it "remains unclear whether he was involved in Postal Service decision-making" regarding relevant companies before he began a formal recusal process after taking office.
Complicating matters, of course, is the fact that this is not the first controversy the postmaster general has confronted during his tenure. On the contrary, the public learned in June that DeJoy was also facing an FBI investigation over a campaign-finance scandal, and that probe appears to be ongoing.
Adjacent to all of this are difficult questions about DeJoy's Postal Service policies, which intend to make some mail service "permanently slower."
Circling back to our earlier coverage, the fact remains that President Biden cannot fire the postmaster general, though he probably wants to. Earlier this year, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, "I think we can all agree — most Americans would agree — that the Postal Service needs leadership that can and will do a better job."
The governing board of the U.S. Postal Service can remove DeJoy, and the confirmation of Biden's nominees to the board increased the odds that it might take such a step, but for now, there's little to suggest his job is in serious jeopardy.
One of the Democratic board members is Ron Bloom, a Trump appointee who's expressed support for DeJoy. In the spring, Bloom, who currently chairs the USPS board, told The Atlantic, in reference to the controversial postmaster general, "Right now, I think [DeJoy is] the proper man for the job. He's earned my support, and he will have it until he doesn't. And I have no particular reason to believe he will lose it."
That said, Congress could still have a role to play. Remember this Washington Post report from March?
Democrats are swarming to block a key piece of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's 10-year restructuring plan for the U.S. Postal Service, casting doubt on the feasibility of his proposals for achieving financial stability for the agency. A group of House Democrats on Friday introduced legislation to prohibit the Postal Service from lengthening mail-delivery windows and require it to adhere to present service expectations. They named the bill the Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round Act, or DEJOY Act.
After it was introduced in March by Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, the proposal picked up 10 co-sponsors, which wasn't a bad start, but which didn't set the bill on a glide-path to success. That said, the number of co-sponsors has doubled over the last week, suggesting the DEJOY Act is starting to gain some attention on Capitol Hill.
What's more, Krishnamoorthi this week also wrote a letter to the USPS Board of Governors chairman, urging Bloom to vote to fire DeJoy.
"Throughout its history, the USPS has been an essential public service, representing the very best of American excellence and patriotism. But, I fear that reputation is in grave jeopardy," the Democratic congressman wrote.
Watch this space.