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Politics DeJoy Never Should Have Been Approved as Postmaster General, Expert Witnesses Tell House Oversight Committee

00:55  15 september  2020
00:55  15 september  2020 Source:   newsweek.com

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  U.S. House panel subpoenas U.S. Postal Service chief U.S. House panel subpoenas U.S. Postal Service chiefWASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy received a subpoena from a congressional panel on Wednesday seeking documents connected to his decision to implement changes that Democrats said threatened mail deliveries and the 2020 election.

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Postmaster General Louis DeJoy returned to Capitol Hill on Monday to testify before the House Oversight Committee . DeJoy continued to defend changes made to the Postal Service ahead of the 2020 election while also fielding questions regarding his loyalty to President Trump.

United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy should not have been chosen for his post due to apparent conflicts of interest that made him ineligible, expert witnesses told Congress on Monday.

a man looking at the camera: Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on slowdowns at the Postal Service ahead of the November elections on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on August 24. © Photo by TOM WILLIAMS/POOL/AFP/Getty Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on slowdowns at the Postal Service ahead of the November elections on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on August 24.

That is what Richard Painter, a former top ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, and David Fineman, former chairman of the U.S.P.S. Board of Governors under the Bill Clinton and Bush administrations, said before the House Overisight Committee.

Trump says he’s open to investigating Louis DeJoy over GOP contributions

  Trump says he’s open to investigating Louis DeJoy over GOP contributions The president also said he would be OK with the postmaster general’s dismissal if he were found to have violated campaign finance law.Speaking at a White House news conference, Trump made the remarks in response to a Washington Post investigation that reported Postmaster General Louis DeJoy had pushed employees at his former North Carolina-based company to donate to Republican campaigns and reimbursed them using bonuses. If true, the acts would be a violation of campaign finance law.

The House Oversight Committee is launching an investigation into US Postmaster General Louis DeJoy following reports that he reimbursed employees with for donating to GOP candidates, New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney told CNN in a statement Tuesday.

The House Oversight Committee is already investigating USPS operational changes DeJoy ordered, which some have suggested are part of a larger scheme to undermine mail-in voting in the November 3 election. The committee sent DeJoy a subpoena last week seeking related documents.

DeJoy's $30 million stake in his former logistics company, XPO Logistics, which is a major contractor for the Postal Service and has received $14 million from the agency since DeJoy was appointed in June, should have posed far too great a risk for a criminal financial conflict of interest, the men testified to the House Oversight Committee.

In addition, the witnesses said that if DeJoy had been properly vetted before being appointed by the board of governors, they could have uncovered allegations of potential campaign violations reported by The Washington Post earlier this month.

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The House Oversight Committee will investigate allegations that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy improperly reimbursed employees for political contributions to DeJoy , through a spokeswoman, told The Post he believed he was following the law, and did not pressure employees to make donations.

House Democrats said Tuesday they will investigate whether Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the House Oversight Committee , said Monty Hagler, a spokesperson for DeJoy , told the Post that DeJoy was unaware that any workers felt pressure to make donations.

"You do not get that job if you keep stock in a contractor with your agency," Painter said. "That is a deal breaker because you could go into public office and commit a felony. It would have been a deal breaker in the Bush administration. We would not have nominated, appointed or approved—in any way—a senior Executive Branch official having that conflict of interest."

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Painter said the same rule holds true with government agencies.

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Trump gives green light for investigation into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy after he was accused of pressuring employees to donate to Republican candidates. Trump said the postmaster general is a 'very respected man,' and that if it can be proven that he did something wrong, he should lose his job.

House Democrats call for immediate suspension of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and launch investigation into his testimony to lawmakers. Carolyn Maloney, the Democratic chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee , said the committee will start an investigation into DeJoy .

"You don't go to the Department of Defense and own stock with defense contractors," he told the congressional panel.

DeJoy was chosen by the board of governors only after an outside executive search firm vetted and helped narrow down hundreds of potential candidates to just a dozen. But DeJoy was not one of those candidates. Instead, he was approved by the board after he was recommended by Board of Governors Chairman Robert Duncan, a President Donald Trump appointee, and was not vetted by the outside firm.

"If you're asking me whether I would have chosen [DeJoy], the answer would be no," Fineman said, responding to a question from Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.). "It's apparent that there was a conflict of interest to begin with, that he still had an interest in one of the largest contractors with the United States Postal Service."

The hearing was meant to examine DeJoy's conflicts of interest as Democrats investigate problems at the Postal Service that arose after DeJoy assumed his role this summer. In recent months under his leadership, the agency has been inundated with mail delivery delays.

Democrats allege that DeJoy has purposely made changes that hinder its operations ahead of an election that will feature a record influx of mail-in ballots. DeJoy is a Trump ally and GOP megadonor, something Democrats often highlight as a political conflict of interest.

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The Post reported that DeJoy urged employees at his former company, New Breed Logistics, which was acquired by XPO in 2014, to donate to Trump's campaign, and that he later reimbursed them for those donations.

Such allegations, if true, would be campaign finance violations and tantamount to lying to Congress—both felonies. Just days before the Post's report, DeJoy publicly denied under oath at a congressional hearing that he committed such a crime, after a question was posed by a Democratic lawmaker.

Republicans derided Monday's hearing, labeling it "utter nonsense," "an absolute farce" and a "sham hearing" that was conducted for purely political purposes.

"This is all about politics. It's really not about the Post Office. The witnesses reflect that," Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) said. "It's remarkable some of the claims made by these individuals."

The hearing became tense at times in exchanges between Painter and Republicans.

Painter is now a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, and he was the only witness to testify in person. He is a frequent critic of Trump.

Although he was a lifelong Republican until 2018 and is now an Independent, Painter ran as a Democrat in 2018 in an unsuccessful bid to unseat incumbent Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

"We have a law school lecturer who has determined guilt based from a Washington Post article," Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) said. "I don't see that as being very professional at all. This is not oversight. This is an attempt to create political assassination."

Painter insisted that the allegations against DeJoy should be investigated.

"It is a false statement I assumed guilt," Painter said. "But if those stories are true, what is described in those stories is multiple felonies. It must be investigated."

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