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Monday, September 21, 2020

Once a cheat, always a cheat

More DeJoy corruption exposed, along with the extent of damage he's done to the Postal Service

Joan McCarter, Daily Kos Staff

Let's catch up on everyone's least favorite postmaster general, Louis DeJoy.

It likely will not surprise you to learn that the guy who gouged taxpayers in previous contracts with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) at his old company, and who bought his way into this job with allegedly illegal campaign donations to Republicans, as well as donations to the Trump campaign and Senate Republicans when the postmaster job opened up in December, has allegedly been a cheat for a good part of his whole life.

So much so that he was sued by his own brother for deceptive financial practices in the family trucking company.

From the outside, it sure does look like DeJoy bought his way into the job and is there to do his benefactors' bidding, which includes sabotaging the agency and along with it vote-by-mail in this pandemic. 

It's amazing how effective he was in accomplishing that from the time he started in June until mid-August when all hell broke loose with mail delays. 

In just five weeks, a new report from the Senate has found, nearly 350 million pieces of first class mail—about 7% of it—was delayed because of his actions. Those actions include strict dispatch schedules that left mail behind, prohibited extra mail trips, empty mail trucks leaving distribution centers, and no overtime for postal workers to complete routes.

The report shows that USPS leadership didn't take time to implement these policies, forcing them on an ill-prepared agency without considering the potential upheaval it would all cause, including real harm to people not getting prescription drugs, not getting Social Security checks, having rent and utility payments delayed—all the business of first-class mail. 

Before DeJoy's changes, the report from Sen. Gary Peters found, more than 90% of first-class mail was delivered on time. DeJoy's changes were implemented in mid-July, and immediately the on-time delivery rates dropped to below 85%. That ended up meaning 85 million deliveries delayed in the week of Aug. 8 to Aug. 14 alone.

Every single USPS district in the country saw a drop in on-time performance, but the worst delays were in some key November battleground areas: service fell by 20.4% in northern Ohio, 15.8% in the Ohio Valley, 19.1% in Detroit, and 17.9% in central Pennsylvania. 

Since DeJoy's sabotage became public knowledge, he's had to reverse some of those changes and there's been some improvement in delivery, but it hasn't recovered to pre-DeJoy levels. It declined again in 30 of the 67 USPS districts form Aug. 29 to Sept. 4.

"The results of my investigation clearly show that Postmaster General DeJoy’s carelessly instituted operational changes to the Postal Service resulted in severe service impacts that harmed the lives and livelihoods of Michiganders and Americans," 

Peters said in a statement. "I have repeatedly made it clear to Mr. DeJoy, that his actions have had consequences for many of my constituents and people across the nation. My report shows his decisions were reckless and caused significant harm to the American people."

DeJoy has left the orders on transportation schedules in place—making the trucks run on time, as he repeatedly talked about in the congressional hearings on his changes. Those are the changes that postal service employees and independent experts find most controversial, and that cause the most problems with delays. 

These are the changes that force postal workers to leave mail behind, to send empty trucks out from distribution centers. Peters wants all the directives, including the transportation schedule, to be reversed, and he wants DeJoy to commit to treating all election mail with first-class privilege.

Here's part of what's so maddening about this: "Postmaster General DeJoy's changes appear to have been focused on cost-cutting based on an inflated estimate, and at a high cost to the American people in terms of delays," the report states. 

But at the same time, DeJoy is giving high-paying jobs in the USPS to his old cronies. 

While he's insisting that he's had to make drastic operational changes because the agency is going broke, he's hired four people who worked with him previously in that company that bilked taxpayers and broke campaign finance laws (allegedly) for a lot of money.

DeJoy hired Patrick Fiorentino and Kelly Abney to be senior executive advisers to him at the USPS, making $180,000 and $195,000 respectively as their base salary. DeJoy's former executive assistant, Heather Clarke, is now his chief of staff with a base salary of $184,900. 

She's the one who, allegedly, "personally called senior staffers, checking on whether executives were coming to fundraisers and collecting checks for candidates" in that straw donor scheme at DeJoy's old job. She also gave Republican campaigns $47,000 from 2002 to 2014.

He's a perfect Trumper, in other words: corrupt to the core.