WASHINGTON—The House Oversight Committee is launching an investigation into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy following published allegations that he reimbursed employees of the logistics company he ran after they made campaign contributions to Republican politicians, a practice barred by federal election law.
In announcing the probe, committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D., N.Y.) called for the Postal Service’s board of governors to immediately suspend Mr. DeJoy over the allegations. She also alleged Mr. DeJoy may have lied under oath during recent congressional hearings in responding to questions about reimbursements.
A personal spokesman for Mr. DeJoy, Monty Hagler, said in a statement that the postmaster general was never notified by employees of his former company, New Breed Logistics, that they might have felt pressured to make donations, and that Mr. DeJoy believes all campaign fundraising laws and regulations should be followed. The statement didn’t address the issue of reimbursements.
Mr. Hagler didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday about the House Oversight Committee’s investigation.
Mr. DeJoy, a Trump donor and GOP fundraiser, was named to lead the U.S. Postal Service this spring by the Postal Service Board of Governors, whose members were appointed by the president. He served as the chief executive of New Breed Logistics, a North Carolina logistics and supply-chain services provider, for about three decades before it was sold in 2014 to
The Washington Post on Sunday reported that five employees of Mr. DeJoy’s former business said they had been urged by Mr. DeJoy or his aides to make campaign donations or attend fundraisers he was hosting. Some former employees said Mr. DeJoy subsequently arranged bonus payments to such employees, essentially reimbursing them for all or part of their donations. The Wall Street Journal hasn’t confirmed the allegations in the Post report.
Joe Hauck, a former longtime senior employee at New Breed Logistics, said in an interview with the Journal that he used to invite employees to political fundraisers being hosted by Mr. DeJoy. He rejected allegations that employees were pressured or that bonuses were tied to donations.
“I wouldn’t even say I would regularly ask for donations,” he said. “The way I would put it is, I would regularly advise people that there was an upcoming event.” He added: “Some people weren’t interested. That was fine.”
The issue of donations came up in recent congressional hearings. Rep. Jim Cooper (D., Tenn.) asked Mr. DeJoy if he had reimbursed employees for donations to President Trump’s 2016 campaign. Mr. DeJoy called the notion an “outrageous claim” and said he didn’t reimburse executives for any donations to the Trump effort. The Post article describes reimbursements related to other GOP campaigns between 2003 and 2014, but no donations in the 2016 campaign.
Federal election laws ban the practice of reimbursing employees for donations to evade limits on campaign contributions, known as a straw-donor scheme.
Ahead of the Post report, Democratic lawmakers had targeted Mr. DeJoy over a range of concerns related to postal delays, including accusing him of working with President Trump to interfere with the November election, where a historic number of voters are expected to cast ballots by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. DeJoy has said politics has played no role in recent delays, and that the Postal Service has ample capacity to handle the expected surge in ballots. He said delivery performance has improved in recent weeks after problems caused by operational changes and pandemic-related bottlenecks.
The House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena to Mr. DeJoy last week that requires him to produce documents related to mail delays and any interactions with the Trump campaign. Asked at a news conference on Monday about the allegations in the Washington Post report, President Trump said, “I don’t know too much about it.” Pressed further by a reporter on whether he would support an investigation, he said, “Sure, sure. Let the investigations go, but he’s a very respected man.”
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said Tuesday that the allegations of reimbursements merit an investigation. “Any credible allegations along those lines need to be investigated to determine whether the law was violated, whether it’s state law or federal,” he said on MSNBC.
Corrections & Amplifications
An earlier version of this article incorrectly gave the first name of Alexa Corse as Alex in the byline. (Corrected on Sept. 8)
Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8