This post was guest authored by Vanessa Chebli.
“Is that guy still running the post office??” actor Henry Winkler tweeted on July 28th, 2021.
Yes, he is — but maybe not for much longer.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is a Trump-era appointment through and through — corruption, straw donor scandals, conflicts of interest. Just this month, it was revealed that DeJoy actively maintains financial ties to a company, XPO Logistics, that the USPS recently awarded a $120 million contract to. DeJoy previously served as an executive with XPO, a supply chain logistics company that he sold his previous company of 30 years, New Breed Logistics, to and maintains four leases in North Carolina to the company. He’s also still under FBI investigation for allegedly recruiting his employees to make political contributions and then reimbursing those donations via bonuses. A Washington Post analysis found that the contributions likely under investigation were made to Republican candidates at the federal and state levels, including donations to Trump Victory, the former president’s joint fundraising committee.
It’s not just the corruption. He’s wreaking havoc on the Postal Service, too. His ten-year “Delivering For America” plan has been widely criticized, from activists and the Postal Regulatory Commission alike, as a policy unlikely to achieve any significant savings for the USPS, but likely to lose it customers. The plan is set to slow down the mail across the country — changing most First Class Mail standards from 3 to 5 days.
Louis DeJoy was named by then-President Trump’s appointees to the postal board in June 2020. DeJoy’s appointment process was riddled with red flags, including (Trump) White House interference — so much so that two of the board members at the time resigned in protest. Serious disqualifications — including the questionable campaign contributions he’s now under investigation for, his millions in stock in postal service competitors and contractors, and a history of presiding over documented labor abuses including sexual harassment and safety violations — didn’t come into play before DeJoy’s appointment, in part because a standard, routine FBI background check was not conducted.
Once in post, Louis DeJoy immediately forged ahead with cuts to mail service, overtime bans for postal workers, removing critical mail sorting machines, and more. These decisions were made without any impact analysis studies, and in less than a month, on-time mail delivery plummeted.
Between the COVID-19 crisis, the 2020 holiday surge, and the soon-to-be-implemented ten-year plan, the mail continues to slow, and mail delivery complaints abound. And zip codes that had populations of more than 45% Black, Indigenous, and other people of color saw fifty percent more mail delivery complaints than predominantly white ZIP codes. Delays this severe and continuous lead to serious consequences, like late medications and delayed rent checks and bill payments. DeJoy’s ten-year plan is likely to codify these racist mail delays, and further chip away at the post office’s legal obligation to serve everyone.
After all that, why is DeJoy still postmaster general?
In spite of the conflicts of interest, the FBI investigation, faulty new policies, and the continual degeneration of one of the United States’ most popular government agencies, Louis DeJoy is still in his post. Why?
The Postmaster General isn’t directly appointed by the president — the position is voted in and out by, and reports to, the USPS Board of Governors (who are appointed by the president). The Trump-appointed board lacks the votes to remove him.
This is the current makeup of the USPS Board of Governors, with their party affiliation and the year their term ends:
- John M. Barger – R, 2021
- Ron A. Bloom – D, 2020
- Robert M. Duncan – R, 2025
- Anton G. Hajjar – D, 2023
- Roman Martinez IV – R, 2024
- Amber F. McReynolds – I, 2026
- Donald L. Moak – D, 2022
- Ron A. Stroman – D, 2028
- William D. Zollars – R, 2022
Barger, Duncan, Martinez, and Zollars are likely to be solid DeJoy votes, given their past statements that they were “tickled pink” about his performance. Trump-appointed Democrat Donald Moak has remained largely silent, and has not publicly broken with DeJoy’s approach. Deputy Postmaster General Douglas Tulino was recently appointed by DeJoy as another vote on board business, however neither DeJoy nor Tulino vote on postmaster general hiring and firing decisions.
The USPS requires that no more than five governors be registered to the same political party. But because Biden appointed an Independent (McReynolds) to a previously Democratic seat earlier this year, and because Bloom is a registered Democrat, the Bloom and Barger replacement need not be a Republican.
Trump-appointed Democrat Ron Bloom is a vocal DeJoy supporter who has said the 10 year plan has his fingerprints all over it, and he has backed DeJoy’s leadership explicitly. Since he was appointed to serve out the remainder of a term ending in 2020, he is currently in a holdover year — meaning that President Biden can easily nominate a new forward-looking governor at any point.
Notably, DeJoy and Bloom have considerable financial ties to each other — it was recently reported that DeJoy purchased up to $305,000 in bonds from Brookfield Asset Management, where Bloom is a managing partner. A USPS spokesperson told reporters that the transactions didn’t violate any ethics regulations, but many outside experts disagree. Meanwhile, Bloom’s firm is holding $2.6 million in XPO Logistics stock, a firm in which DeJoy continues to have financial interests.
Currently, DeJoy has at least 6 of 9 votes in support of his remaining postmaster general. However, all President Biden has to do is to nominate replacements for Ron Bloom and John Barger, whose terms have either expired or are about to expire, and the board’s composition could potentially switch to 5 of 9 governors who want DeJoy out.
President Biden still has the opportunity to nominate two governors that shift the balance of power in postal leadership. The clock is ticking because many elements of DeJoy’s ten-year plan are irreversible — the permanent mail slowdowns go into effect October 1 — but if the president acts quickly, there’s still time to make the USPS Board of Governors into a diverse and forward-looking group that embraces public goods and serving everyone, and is open to innovative ideas to build the post office of the future.
But there’s no time to waste: President Biden must nominate replacements for governors Ron Bloom and John Barger to ensure that Louis DeJoy stops running ruining the mail. Add your name to a petition to President Biden here.