Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is the subject of a criminal complaint filed by the nonpartisan nonprofit group Common Cause North Carolina.
The complaint, filed with North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) and the state’s Board of Elections, alleges that DeJoy ran an illegal straw donor scheme while serving as CEO of New Breed Logistics. He allegedly pressured his employees to make contributions to Republican politicians, then reimbursed them.
DeJoy is alleged to have reimbursed New Breed employees by paying them bonuses equal to the contributions he requested they make from 2000 to 2014, according to The Washington Post. During that period, New Breed employees donated over $1 million to Republicans and just $700 to Democrats.
Common Cause and its North Carolina affiliate filed the complaint with the North Carolina Attorney General’s office on Wednesday, as the five-year federal statute of limitations for the alleged crimes has passed. There is no statute of limitations for felonies in North Carolina.
“This troubling fundraising scheme allegedly perpetrated by Louis DeJoy has the appearance of bypassing North Carolina’s campaign finance limits in order to illicitly buy political access and curry favor with elected officials,” Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC, said in a statement. “These allegations should be thoroughly investigated and, if true, Mr. DeJoy must be held accountable.”
The U.S. Postal Service has been in turmoil ever since DeJoy assumed his position in June. The agency was already suffering from a revenue shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but DeJoy sought to institute corporate efficiency reforms that led to a radical degradation of mail delivery across the country.
However, it’s expected that there will be a huge increase in the number of American voters casting their ballots through the mail this fall as people try to curb the spread of COVID-19. President Donald Trump explicitly stated he did not want the Postal Service to receive proper funding because it would help the post office deliver mailed ballots, and he believes he has a greater likelihood of winning reelection if fewer Americans vote. This created an impression that DeJoy’s mail slowdown was part of Trump’s voter suppression campaign.
The ensuing coverage of DeJoy’s history as a CEO of a delivery logistics firm that contracts with the post office ― and as a Republican donor ― led to the allegations that he reimbursed employees for political donations via corporate bonuses.
The straw donor scheme that DeJoy is alleged to have operated is the most commonly prosecuted campaign finance law violation. It is often easy to detect, and the commission of the crime is evidence that the perpetrator was aware it was against the law to evade individual contribution limits by paying for other people’s donations.
Past successful prosecutions of straw donor schemes have included conservative propagandist Dinesh D’Souza, Democratic Party donor Jeffrey Thompson, earmark lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti and Nevada real estate mogul F. Harvey Whittmore.