Biden Can End Postmaster General DeJoy’s Destructive Reign at USPS

Interview with Lisa Graves, executive director of True North Research, conducted by Scott Harris

In May 2020, as last year’s presidential election campaign was getting underway, Louis DeJoy, a Trump campaign megadonor, was appointed as the nation’s postmaster general by the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors — most of whom were Trump appointees. In the months that followed, DeJoy ordered the postal service to stop paying carriers and clerks the overtime pay needed to ensure that mail is delivered on time. Then news emerged that DeJoy ordered the decommissioning of 10 percent, or more than 670 of the postal service’s costly high-speed, mail sorting machines across the country – as well as the removal or locking of an unknown number of local mailboxes.

Many observers viewed these actions as deliberate sabotage of the mail service during the nation’s deadly coronavirus pandemic when Americans were more reliant than ever on the U.S. mail to cast their election ballots. More recently in October, DeJoy began implementing a policy of slowing down mail delivery primarily of first-class mail, while increasing the cost of postage in order to cut costs over the next 10 years.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Lisa Graves, executive director of True North Research who talks about her efforts to hold Louis DeJoy accountable for his mismanagement of the U.S. Postal Service, while urging President Biden to replace him as soon as possible to avert more permanent damage.

LISA GRAVES: Well, you know, I like it better when we don’t know the name of our postmaster because things are running smoothly and instead we have a man who was basically put into this position at the behest of Steve Mnuchin, who was Donald Trump’s treasury secretary and made his fortune as the foreclosure king. Steven Mnuchin worked with another board member appointed by Trump, a guy named John Barger, to push Louis DeJoy to the sort of front of the line, even though he had not been recommended by the executive search firms that were hired to help find an excellent candidate to lead our Postal Service and with the help of all of the men that Donald Trump put on that postal board. They chose Louis DeJoy, who was a major Trump donor, was someone that Trump tapped to help lead the RNC fundraising efforts.

And as someone who has been subject to an investigation by the FBI about whether he pressured his former employees when they were working for him at the private firm to donate to his, politicians that he favored and rewarded them with bonuses for doing so, that’s the allegation.

So here you have a very partisan person who’s been put in charge of the Postal Service by a board handpicked by Donald Trump. He chose four investment bankers for that role rather than people who have experience working within the Postal Service, who have experience working as longtime public servants devoted to public interests and protecting public institutions. He put private equity bankers in charge. And one of those guys is Ron Bloom, who’s currently the chair, and these men have basically stood by Louis DeJoy as America learned his name last summer, when their mail started slowing down dramatically.

People were noticing that they weren’t getting medicines on time, medicines that they’d relied upon receiving month after month on time, checks and other goods. Farmers had called, about chicks dying because they weren’t delivered in the time that the Postal Service had traditionally been delivering that small livestock and people saw a lot of disruption leading up to the election right before the election and courts had to intervene.

SCOTT HARRIS: Lisa, there are questions on social media and all over this country, given the slowdown in the mail and the higher expenses that we’ve all seen. The question is, when is Joe Biden going to fire Louis DeJoy? The U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors right now is dominated by Donald Trump’s appointees, and they’re the only ones that could fire Louis DeJoy.

LISA GRAVES: Biden did have the opportunity to appoint three members of the board earlier this year, but that’s still not enough to outvote the Trump members of that board. Two of those Trump appointees, their terms are up this December on Dec. 8. That’s Ron Bloom, who I’ve mentioned, who briefly served in the Obama administration working on the Fiat-Chrysler merger. The other guy who whose term is up is John Barger, and he is someone who also hails from this private equity investment background.

And the two of them, if they were replaced by Biden, there would be an opportunity to get rid of Louis DeJoy. If they are reappointed by Biden this December, there will be no chance for the American people to have a mechanism to get rid of Louis DeJoy, who never been hired for this job and who demonstrably, time and time again, last summer, last fall had to be contained by the courts and then in the winter, as many people may remember, there was a terrible slowdown again in the mail over the winter holidays. And now we’ve seen, you know, rolling delays on and on throughout this year.

And now we’re beginning to see these price increases that he has insisted upon — that Louis DeJoy with the help of Ron Bloom, has insisted upon. And that’s just the beginning of a series of pricing increases they planned for for both packages and mail, basically on a quarterly or semiannual basis from here on out unless they’re removed.

And so I certainly am calling on President Biden not to reappoint Ron Bloom, not to reappoint John Barger. I’d rather have those seats vacant than be staffed with people like them who are so devoted to Louis DeJoy despite his failings that they said in a according to a press account that they were both “tickled pink by Louis DeJoy performance last August and September.” I think that’s outrageous. We can appoint people to those positions who have a record of devotion to public service, devotion to innovations like public banking through the Postal Service and more. And we can diversify that board with people who have far more experience that’s valuable and focused on the interest the American people rather than private equity bankers.

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