(Mailed-in ballots sit in US Postal Service bins inside the office of the Stanislaus County Clerk in Modesto, California. Photo by Alex Edelman, via Getty Images.)
Newly revealed financial disclosures show that Louis DeJoy, the controversial recent Postmaster General appointee, who has implemented changes at the Postal Service to intentionally slow service just before the election, continues to hold multi-million dollar financial investments in companies that create substantial conflicts of interest.
Officials at the US Postal Service have somehow allowed DeJoy to maintain at least $30 million in stock holdings from his former supply company that is a current contractor with US Postal Service, XPO holdings.
DeJoy served as CEO of XPO's supply chain business in North America for a year after the company acquired New Breed Logistics, where DeJoy had served as CEO for over 30 years. After his retirement in 2015, he was appointed to a strategic role on XPO Logistics' board of directors where he served until 2018.
Federal records reveal that when DeJoy assumed his role as postmaster general, he still owned a large equity stake in XPO, totaling between $30 million and $75 million. Federal ethics officials have authorized DeJoy to keep the XPO assets, which has sounded the alarm for impartial ethics experts with years of government experience.
(Postmaster General Louis Dejoy arrives at a meeting at the office of Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the U.S. Capitol August 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.)
Another major cause for concern for outside experts reviewing the financial disclosures is DeJoy’s current Amazon stock interests, and his position that will allow him to directly profit from the USPS failing to perform. DeJoy divested large amounts of Amazon stock shares in June of this year, just after taking his position as Postmaster General.
On that same day, he secured stock options that will give him the right to buy new shares of Amazon at his discretion, at a price much lower than their going market rate. This is an advantage that could come in very handy for someone who has the capability to manipulate the stock market and inflate Amazon stock by destroying its competitor - the Unites States Postal Service.
DeJoy and USPS have confirmed that he has fully complied with regulations, but this seems implausible given the current context that includes the intentionally decreased output of USPS. The recent organizational changes put in place by DeJoy, that have decreased the internal capabilities of the agency and intentionally wounded the public’s confidence in the mail delivery system, all have the power to lower the value of USPS and make money for DeJoy personally.
(An election worker sorts vote-by-mail ballots for the presidential primary at King County Elections in Renton, Washington, on March 10, 2020. Photo by Jason Redmond/AFP, via Getty Images.)
DeJoy has intentionally implemented changes that are intended to slow timely delivery by the postal service, by cutting overtime and instructing employees to leave mail behind at distribution centers. This new regulation of leaving mail behind is counter to everything postal workers have been trained to do.
Kimberly Karol, the head of the Iowa Postal Workers Union has also confirmed that mail sorting equipment is actually being removed from USPS offices following the recent structural changes implemented by DeJoy. When speaking to NPR recently about the subsequent delays, Karol explained that machines used to sort the mail are actually being taken out of USPS facilities. Karol said, "The sorting equipment that we use to process mail for delivery, in Iowa, we are losing machines…so that also hinders our ability to process mail in the way that we had in the past."
(A United States Postal Worker continues to deliver mail in Los Feliz, California, amid the Covid 19 pandemic, April 29, 2020. Photo by Valerie Macon, via AFP.)
The excuse for these harmful changes has been the premise that DeJoy is attempting to streamline the postal service, save money and provide better service. But Mark Dimondstein, President of the American Postal Workers Union, which represents more than 200,000 employees of the U.S. Postal Service, has explained that this is not the case.
Speaking last night to Ali Velshi on MSNBC, Dimondstein explained that removing equipment as a cost cutting measure and cutting overtime during a pandemic is “absurd” and simply does not track as a proportional response to the problems at hand.
In addition, the Postal Service has recently warned states that long-standing classification practices for ballots and other political mailings may not be enough to ensure timely delivery for the November election. This means that high-priority first-class postage, which costs 55 cents an item, will need to be used on election mail rather than the typical third-class, or bulk, rate of 20 cents.
(Bundles of vote by mail election ballots at the United States Postal Service.)
In several states that will count mailed-in, postmarked ballots from the day of the election for only a limited number of days after the election, votes that are delayed via the mail are at risk. What is most concerning about this is that this information is simply not getting out to the public at the level that it should.
The majority of this country agrees that vote by mail should be employed, especially during the pandemic, but it is heavily favored by Democrats. According to Politico: “Among Democrats, 81 percent favored allowing everyone to vote by mail, and 57 percent of independents did too. Just 33 percent of Republicans agreed.”
Ultimately, mail in voting favors Joe Biden heavily. According to Emerson College polling conducted late last month, 76% of voters who plan to vote by mail plan to vote for Joe Biden, while 65% of those planning to vote in person say they’ll vote for Trump.
Mail volume is down 30% and the USPS is revenue funded, not tax funded. The postal service needs the same access to stimulus funding that private corporations, Kanye West and the Chinese government have all received — the same funding that the USPS has purposely been denied.
(Trump conducts a press conference in the White House Briefing Room in April of 2020, amid pandemic concerns. Photo by Alex Wong, via Getty Images.)
Trump told reporters yesterday that he would not approve $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service, or $3.5 billion in supplemental funding for election resources, due to the prohibitively high costs. Trump explained, “They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can’t do it, I guess. Are they going to do it even if they don’t have the money?”
Here is the bottom line: Trump and the Republican Party have been working towards voter suppression for years within the courts and their grand moment came when the United States Supreme Court struck down portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They have been successful in instituting a ban on mail-in voting in states with Republican governors and conservative courts.
Trump has had difficulty selling his mail-in voter fraud concept because it is not true, and a majority of Americans favor the vote by mail process. Now that these other avenues deployed by Republicans have only provided a certain level of obstruction, Trump is intent on destroying the delivery system that will carry the votes against him with a two pronged attack: let the agency bleed out and establish a loyal operative within the USPS to start slashing from the inside.
(House Oversight Chair, Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who has recently introduced a bill to freeze Postal Service changes amid the coronavirus pandemic. Via Getty Images.)
DeJoy’s officials at the US Postal Service are already attempting to cover their backsides for the inevitable, and have issued the following statement, justifying the slow delivery of election mail ahead of time:
"To ensure that voters who wish to use the mail to vote can do so successfully, it is critical that election officials and voters are mindful of the time that it takes for us to deliver ballots, whether it is a blank ballot going to a voter or a completed ballot going back to election officials. In many cases, certain deadlines concerning mail-in ballots, may be incompatible with the Postal Service’s delivery standards, especially if election officials use marketing mail to send blank ballots to voters."
On Wednesday, Democrats requested additional communication from state and local election officials “regarding the service standards that will be applied to election mail.” In a letter to DeJoy addressing the issues at hand, 175 House Democrats demanded that the same operations that existed at USPS in Jan. 2020 remain in place for one full year until Jan. 2021 — out of concern that mail disruption will disenfranchise voters.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has formally put this demand into action by introducing legislation on Wednesday that would prohibit the Postal Service from implementing any changes to the operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020, until the COVID-19 pandemic has ended.
Considering that the President of the United States has admitted that he will refuse to fund his own agency and that the USPS is admitting that election mail could be delayed, it is now up to states that will allow mail-in voting to extend the deadline for the receipt of properly postmarked mail. We can only hope that Trump and DeJoy will not find a way to manipulate the actual ballot postmarks from Election Day.
Amee Vanderpool writes the SHERO Newsletter and is an attorney, published author, contributor to newspapers and magazines and analyst for BBC radio. She can be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.
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