The United States Postal Service has long been a target of Donald Trump’s attack. Since his 2015 campaign begin he has called out the post office for losing money, which is a bit like a municipality complaining about a lack of revenue from trash collection. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, more Americans than ever are expected to cast mail-in ballots in the upcoming election. Up to 180 million people may be eligible to vote through the postal service. That does not bode well for the dwindling prospects of Trump winning reelection or maintaining a Republican majority in the Senate. In response, Trump has ramped up his attacks on the postal office and spouted repeatedly, without evidence, that mail-in voting will lead to widespread voter fraud and an illegitimate election. He has refused to sign off on the necessary funding to ensure that USPS is able to handle the increased workload until through November. In corrupt postman, Louis DeJoy, he has found the perfect lackey.
At this point it seems redundant to point out lack of qualification or conflicting interests by a Trump appointee. However, DeJoy’s are especially conspicuous. Unlike any Post Master General in two decades, DeJoy had never worked for the post office. More troubling, he owns between $30-75 million in stock of XPO, a logistics company which serves as a subcontractor of the post office. Prior to his appointment, DeJoy owned between 100-250K in Amazon (perhaps the post office’s most formidable competitor), of which he divested. However the same day he purchased between $50-100K of stock options in Amazon, that would allow him to purchase shares at roughly 2/3 of their current value. The options expire on October 16th. The Post Master General of the United States, is in essence gambling that his agency’s biggest competitor will increase in value in the next two months. Since Trump co-opted the Republican party in his image four years ago, DeJoy has donated $2.5 million to his campaigns and those of other GOP members. That, by all accounts is the extent of his involvement in government or politics.
DeJoy is deeply invested in a post office subcontractor which simultaneously represents a competitive threat to it. He’s in a position to further those interest by undermining the very office which he is assigned to manage. He was put there by a president whose campaign he donated to generously. DeJoy seeks to reap incalculable personal and financial benefit from mismanaging USPS, and subverting the 2020 election.
Under the guise of increased efficiency, DeJoy has made a series of moves which threaten to damage the post office’s function and undermine public confidence. In a Nixon-style ‘’Friday Night Massacre” on August 7th, the post master general removed or reassigned two dozen of the most senior executives at USPS. The reorganization concentrates power around DeJoy and two deputies reporting directly to him. It also sidelines decades of institutional knowledge at time when it is at a premium.
New directives also threaten to disrupt on-time delivery for millions of Americans dependent on the mail. Per USPS’ own internal documents, 671 high speed mail sorting machines have been removed from branches all over the country. The best of these sorting machines can sort up tp 30,000 pieces of mail each day. Two technicians familiar with the machines estimated that the same work would take about 30 postal workers, with specialized training their entire shifts to complete.
Another initiative of DeJoy’s mandates that mail carriers begin their routes at a designated time, regardless of if their trucks are loaded. The inevitable result of this fundamental change will be delays, and backup in mail. Overtime benefits have also been cut for thousands of employees. The union which represents postal workers has stated publicly that they have neither met with DeJoy, or been consulted to the sweeping policy changes.
Timely delivery of mail is especially crucial for seniors reluctant to leave home and Americans living in more rural areas. Veterans also heavily depend on Post Office services. The Veterans Affairs reports that 80% of the prescriptions filled for veterans are done so by mail. DeJoy’s disruption of mail-in ballot efforts also affects these important Post Office constituencies.
Donald Trump is actively trying to sabotage the national effort to vote by mail. He acknowledged as much in a recent Fox News interview about the failed coronavirus relief package. His partner in crime is his newly appointed Postmaster General.