Donald Trump’s administration has yet to repay the U.S. Postal Service for a postcard it sent out in March prominently displaying the president’s name alongside a series of guidelines for combating COVID-19, according to a report from USA Today.
The cost of producing and sending the postcards to an estimated 138 million addresses across the U.S. was $28 million, USA Today reported, with $4.6 million spent on printing alone. USPS spokesperson David Partenheimer informed the paper that the Trump administration had been negotiating payment in May, but “no reimbursements have been made at this time.”
The White House received flak when it sent out the postcard on March 16 due to its large headline, which read “PRESIDENT TRUMP’S CORONAVIRUS GUIDELINES FOR AMERICA.”
At the time, Trump repeatedly downplayed the coronavirus in media briefings, comparing it to the common flu, arguing that more Americans were likely to die in automobile accidents and calling for the country to reopen quickly.
In a Fox News virtual town hall on March 24, Trump even stated that he had only begrudgingly locked down the United States: “If I would have not done it, we would have been unbelievably criticized for not doing it.”
A letter sent in early April by Kyle Herrig, president of watchdog group Accountable.US, to the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called the postcard a case of “electioneering.”
“In terms of design, the main feature of the mailing is Trump’s name rather than the actual guidelines,” the letter stated. “In fact, the message including the President’s name takes up more real estate on the postcard — one full side — than any other item.”
The letter went on to lambaste the decision to credit the safety recommendations to Trump, arguing that it was “particularly misleading considering the fact that [Trump] has frequently undermined these very CDC guidelines.”
“It appears highly likely that this mailing represents a serious misuse of taxpayer funds, inappropriate communication by a government agency, and an act of illegal electioneering by Trump administration officials,” the letter concluded.
Aside from not paying the USPS for the postcard, Trump appeared to admit in August that he was blocking much-needed funding for the Postal Service to prevent mail-in voting ahead of the November elections. The president has repeatedly argued that an implosion of mail-in voting due to the ongoing pandemic could result in a rigged presidential election.
Neither the White House nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention immediately responded to HuffPost requests for comment.