After being hit with a lawsuit in federal court, and after months of being pressed by Democratic lawmakers, the U.S. Postal Service finally released Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s calendar on Tuesday.
But good luck reading it.
Democrats and transparency advocates hoped to learn whom DeJoy, a former fundraiser for President Donald Trump, met with as he took control of the Postal Service ― particularly since he initiated a set of sweeping policy changes that measurably slowed mail delivery ahead of an election where millions planned to vote by mail. He also has a number of potential conflicts of interest from his time in the private sector, where he ran businesses that compete with the USPS.
But the calendar released Tuesday is almost entirely redacted. From June 15 to Nov. 7, DeJoy held more than 450 meetings and conference calls, his electronic calendar says. But the agency’s Freedom of Information Act office blacked out nearly every word beyond references to dates and times. Only a handful of recurring words escaped redaction: “meeting,” “teleconference,” “prep for all hands,” “in office” and “RTP” (an abbreviation for “Read, Think, Plan”).
The calendar, disclosed in an ongoing lawsuit brought by liberal legal group American Oversight, does not specify on the document why the appointments were redacted. Though redactions to documents released through FOIA are common, the agency must cite specific exemptions detailed in the law.
An accompanying letter says that the withheld portions concerned trade secrets, privileged interagency communications, and personnel records that would raise privacy concerns.
“Shrouding his calendar in secrecy likely violates the letter of the law, and certainly violates its spirit,” Austin Evers, the executive director of American Oversight, wrote in an email to HuffPost. “DeJoy works for the public, but you wouldn’t know it from his calendar. Even in the Trump era, this is an extraordinary level of obfuscation.”
The USPS has faced pressure for months to disclose DeJoy’s electronic calendar. In a widely publicized exchange back in August, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, asked DeJoy to release his calendar, asserted that it was subject to FOIA, and asked whether he or his staff had deleted any items from it. (DeJoy said they had not deleted any items.)
Mail delivery slowed after DeJoy took control of the USPS in June, driving concerns that he had the power to tip the election in Trump’s favor, given that Democrats were more likely to cast mail-in ballots.
DeJoy fundraised for Trump in the past. The North Carolina businessman also served as an executive for XPO Logistics, a company that contracts with the USPS.
Other agencies routinely make federal officials’ schedules public when requested under FOIA. But the USPS has refused to do so for DeJoy’s calendar, which is also the subject of a congressional subpoena. The agency’s FOIA office claims that the calendar, which was created for him on a government computer to carry out official business, is a private record.