“The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress, and supported by the people.“ – 39 U.S. Code § 101(a)
This post is a scratchpad to keep track of what’s happening legislatively to our USPS in recent days. We also have two related posts:
- Actions to take: Regular people talking to their legislators EVERY DAY is why our crooked Postmaster General is getting roasted in a hearing right now. Keep it up, everyone, and we’ll keep you supplied with new scripts and contacts for the people in power you should be making miserable.
- Sabotage to privatize: Win or lose the 2020 election, the GOP has time to gut the USPS, a goal of theirs for decades. But first they need to get you used to slower delivery, fewer delivery days per week, fewer post offices and rural routes, along with higher prices for hard-to-get-to addresses, so you’ll be too dispirited to protest when they sell it off to their corporate friends. Hahaha. THAT’S NOT HAPPENING!
- UPDATE 9/1: USPS Board of Governor Chairman Mike Duncan tied to Senator Mitch McConnell super PAC is also the force behind GOP voter suppression efforts from 2002.
A continuing series of unfolding corruption:
- Friday, Aug. 21: Sen. Rand Paul said the quiet part of destroying the USPS until it’s dysfunctional enough to privatize – out loud! OOOPS!
Aug. 21 – Thursday: The Senate Hearing
- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, thanked Postmaster General DeJoy for both attending the hearing called to investigate complaints against him, and for pretending to save the USPS from the financial devastation caused by the GOP’s own 2006 pre-funding mandate slipped in by Sen. Collins. Johnson expressed that he wasn’t convinced that the Americans calling their legislators about delays were being truthful. His office addresses are here for you to convince him otherwise.
- Former U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors member David Williams testified to Congress on Thursday that he had resigned because “the administration was politicizing the Postal Service” and accused Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin of using Treasury’s role in the agency’s funding to “turn the Postal Service into a political tool”, escalating concerns about President Donald Trump weaponizing the Postal Service ahead of the November election.
- Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman followed Williams out the door, reportedly also due to political interference at the agency.
- But it wasn’t all GOP backscratching… Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the committee, told DeJoy “Your decisions have cost Americans their health, their livelihood, and their peace of mind. I believe you owe them an apology for the harm you have caused, and you owe all of us some very clear answers today.”
Aug. 23 – Friday: Mnuchin rattled enough to publish “fact sheet.”
In a fact sheet released Friday refuting Williams’ testimony, the Treasury Department claimed Mnuchin did not play any role in “recruiting or suggesting” DeJoy as postmaster general and labeled claims that Mnuchin issued political demands and asked board members to “kiss the ring” as “false.”
Aug. 22 – Saturday: The House votes to pass H.R. 8015 – “Delivering for America”
The House, including our own representatives, Julia Brownley and Salud Carbajal, voted to pass H.R. 8015 – “Delivering for America.” Guess who voted AGAINST it? Yes, – our newest and temporary representative to the south, Rep. Mike Garcia (R). He joined 148 other Republican representatives in voting against their constituents’ best interests.
Aug. 22: The Senate has NOT passed S.4527 – “Delivering for America”
The Senate, controlled by Sen. Mitch McConnell, has not passed S. 4527, their verson of H.R. 8015. In the middle of a pandemic and its horrendous side effects like hunger and homelessness, he closed down the Senate, possibly until September 14th. S. 4527 joins a stack of over 400 bills that contain the will, heart and humanity of the American people, personally sidelined by Mitch McConnell. Update: We now know that McConnell’s super PAC is run by the chairman of the USPS Board of Governors and that his goal to destroy the USPS is on-track.
Aug. 24 – House Hearing – DeJoy’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Last month, 90 Democratic lawmakers urged the Board of Governors to remove DeJoy over his mail service changes and conflicts of interest, but members of the board—which unanimously appointed DeJoy in May despite his lack of USPS experience—have remained supportive of the postmaster general.
- He failed Katie Porter’s pop quiz: Yeah, DeJoy doesn’t know the cost of a postcard stamp or a lot of other USPS facts. That’s small potatoes compared to the raging corruption that’s been revealed recently.
- Rep.Katie Porter: “If not you, then who ordered these changes at the P.O.?”
DeJoy: “I don’t know.” (Actually, everything should have stopped right there and he should have been jailed for inherent contempt.)
- He denied causing the slowdown. He stated that he “did not direct the elimination or any cutback in overtime.” However, an internal document shows that he did. House Democrats obtained an internal Postal Service memo written to DeJoy earlier this month that warned his suspension of overtime and extra mail trips would cause such delays. “Mr. DeJoy, you’re withholding information from us, concealing documents and downplaying the damage that you’re causing,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the committee holding the hearing, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
- He denied that his selection was unusual. The NYTimes reported on Saturday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was a key player in selecting the board members who hired Mr. DeJoy and in pushing the agenda that he has pursued. He also insisted that he had been properly vetted for the position of postmaster general, despite being described by David C. Williams, the former vice chairman of the board of governors, as unqualified.
- DeJoy will not replace infrastructure that was removed and it’s not clear if he’s actually stopped removals. The League of Women Voters and other voter advocacy groups haved sued DeJoy and the postal service, demanding they take all the steps necessary to reverse the damage.
- DeJoy is a GOP plant. Rep. Krishnamoorthi questioned DeJoy and his main backer, U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors’ chairman and corrupt GOP party operative Robert Duncan, who was confirmed to the postal board in 2018, about conflicts of interest.
Duncan immediately tried to downplay his role as the chairman of the USPS Board of Governors as being merely a member of a “part-time” board. He was then called out for inserting DeJoy into the interview list, refusing to do “due diligence” on his background and for making baldly partisan statements. He came very close to a Hatch Act violation appearing in an RNC video for the first night of the convention.
9/1: The GOP’s corruption against the USPS is deeper than we thought!
(Please see our post on the GOP’s dream of privatizing our national mail service.)
- Aug. 31: On Monday, Duncan role as director of anti-USPS Senator Mitch McConnell’s major GOP super PAC was revealed after corporate paperwork was filed in Virginia at the end of August. The Kentucky Republican has flatly refused to pass legislation that would protect the USPS. “Is this why the Senate Majority Leader refuses to pass legislation to protect the USPS?” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, asked Monday night in response to the new document.
- DeJoy’s role is now much clearer… With Robert Duncan, he is working with the GOP to denying the $25 billion in aid requested by the USPSBOG, so that they can ignore the Democrat’s ask for the money the service clearly needs. If he’s wrong, and it all goes bad and he blows up the election, he’ll just have to sit through another hearing or too.
- Duncan used the mail service to disenfranchise voters. Now, he’s in charge of it, through his puppet DeJoy. Before Duncan took over as chairman of the USPS Board of Governors, he served as general counsel and then chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) from 2002-2009, when both the national and state committees oversaw an unprecedented escalation of voter disenfranchisement efforts in swing states. In a 2007 report by non-partisan Project Vote, during the two years he served as general counsel (2004-6), party officials challenged the eligibility of at least 77,000 voters.
Mailing to suppress: The favored voter suppression tactics used the US mail. In 2004, the RNC in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania sent thousands of nonforwardable letters and postcards to select voters, and particularly minority voters. The returned mail marked as “undeliverable” was used to challenge voters.
- Voter caging: Under Duncan’s reign, the Republican National Committee (RNC) perfected the art of voter caging. Along with their direct mail attacks, the RNC targeted minority neighborhoods with software and poll watchers, to compile lists of people who could be vulnerable to registration challenges. Duncan was never charged with this illegal activity, but in 2004, committee lists of voters titled “caging.xls” and “caging1.xls” were accidentally revealed.
- 2006: Duncan was subpoenaed for documents regarding the RNC’s role in Presdient George W. Bush’s politically motivated firings of nine U.S. attorneys, a least three of whom because they refused to investigate voter fraud cases complied by the GOP, according to an inspector general’s report. One was replaced by a former RNC official who’d worked directly on the voter caging effort. He never answered the subpoena, as the Bush administration claimed executive privilege.
- 2007: Under Duncan, the Kentucky Republican Party deployed homophobic ads calling a Democratic candidate for governor a “sexual radical.”
- 2008: Duncan, as chairman of the RNC, oversaw their 2008 effort to reverse the voter caging ban, demonstrating a lack of commitment to preserving democracy.
- 2014: Duncan served in state party leadership during the distribution of mailers that compared granting undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses to the terrorist acts of 9/11 — complete with pictures of a burning World Trade Center.
- Aug. 31: Advocacy group Swing Left tweeted late Monday that the fresh details surrounding Duncan’s ties to McConnell further highlight the need to oust the Kentucky senator, who is set to face off against Democratic challenger Amy McGrath in November.
“What a coincidence—the USPS chair’s other job is at Mitch McConnell’s super PAC, while Mitch kills Postal Service funding to secure our elections with his ‘Senate Graveyard,'” the group said. “We have to take his gavel away this November.”
What we know now!
Trump Replaced the Entire Leadership of the Postal Service
- The historically non-partisan US Postal Service Board of Governors now consists entirely of Trump appointees. The chairman of the board is Robert Duncan, whose official biography on the Postal Service’s website boasts that from 2007 to 2009, he chaired the Republican National Committee where he “raised an unprecedented $428 million and grew the donor base to 1.8 million – more donors than at any time in RNC history.” UPDATE: Robert Duncan is a director for a super PAC aligned with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The group aims to protect and expand the Republican majority in the Senate.
- May 6: the Board of Governors named Louis DeJoy postmaster general.
- June 11: Trump is made aware that his voters plan to vote in person, but most Biden voters want to vote by mail from a Politico/Morning Consult poll. 28 % of Democrats said that they would cast in-person ballots in November, compared to 63% of Republicans. At the same time, Florida Democrats already had a 300,000-person mail-in ballot registration advantage over Republicans. By August 18, the Democrats’ mail-in ballot advantage was more than 660,000 voters.
- August 9: Trump lied when he said that he hadn’t spoken with DeJoy about the Post Office.
- August 13: Trump confessed on Fox Business to deliberately withholding funds the USPS needs to do its job. Previously, he’d asserted that the post office wasn’t capable of handling the increased volume of mail-in ballots expected for the November election.“They want $25 billion, billion, for the post office. Now they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots… But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”
- August 24: Trump, as part of his war against Jeff Bezos, stated “The post office should raise the price of a package by approximately four times.” He remembers at the end to mention that the increase should be absorbed by Amazon, not regular people, but that’s not how business works, Mr. President. Win or lose, DeJoy will make this change after the election. Seniors, veterans, rural communities and millions of other Americans who rely on our public Postal Services are going to suffer most.
- August 31: Robert Duncan is revealed to be the director of anti-USPS Senator Mitch McConnell’s major GOP super PAC.
- Nov. 3: Postmaster General DeJoy only has to hold on to last-minute ballots for one day in all but one swing state, to disqualify them.
- Nov. 4 – Jan 20: No matter who wins, Postmaster General DeJoy will gut the U.S. Postal Service. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s privatization plans are already laid out. (Please see our post on the GOP’s dream of privatizing our national mail service.)
DeJoy remains the most unqualified candidate for the job.
- Contrary to Sen. Johnson’s rave reviews of DeJoy, the SPS Board of Governors is not functionally bipartisan with all members being Trump nominees, with four GOP and two Democratic members. Also, DeJoy’s nomination did NOT come from a headhunting firm. Earlier reports indicated he was pushed forth by board member John M. Barger (R), a Southern California investment executive who was supervising the postmaster search. However, Michael Bromwich, a former federal prosecutor and Justice Department inspector general, stated that Board Chairman Mike Duncan put DeJoy’s name in for selection. “Duncan is more responsible than anyone for politicizing the USPS.”
- David C. Williams, former vice chair of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors (USBOG) resigned to protest Mnuchin’s influence, including the appointment of DeJoy, who didn’t pass a standard background check, and was the most incompetent applicant they interviewed. Barger “actually helped him finish a number of sentences where he got stuck and in addition to that he explained to the board what Mr. DeJoy meant during the presentation.” Williams said of DeJoy: “He didn’t strike me as a serious candidate.”
- He was also obviously partisan, with serious and continuing conflicts of interests. He has contributed more than $1.2 million to the Trump Victory Fund and millions more to GOP organizations and candidates. Most recently, he chaired the finance committee for the 2020 Republican National Convention.
- He still holds a multi-million dollar investment in a Postal Service contractor, as well as options to buy stock in Amazon, which is both a competitor and a customer.
- Not only is DeJoy a rare candidate who’s never worked for the USPS, he is also not a fan of unions, of which the USPS has some of the largest, or worker rights. His company New Breed, which he ran for 30 years before selling it to XPO Logistics in 2014, was criticized by the National Labor Relations Board for being anti-union. The company had to pay $1.5 million after losing a lawsuit about sexual harassment in the workplace in 2013.
- June 15: Sen. Charles Schumer asked the U.S. Postal Service’s governing board to turn over communication with the White House about the appointment of new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. He was refused.
DeJoy intentionally interfered with the mail:
- He had no experience with the USPS, and did not consult with the labor union representatives before he started his actions against the USPS, ignoring the impact of COVID-19 on staffing.
- He didn’t do any studies on how his changes would affect seniors, veterans, and animal life shipped through the post office.
- June 17: two days after DeJoy began work as postmaster general, the Postal Service notified the American Postal Workers Union of plans to remove 671 automated mail sorters (more than 10 percent of the total) from operation throughout the country “over the next several months.” These machines allow 2 workers to do the work of 30 hand sorters, and are more accurate, important when so many employees are sick with COVID. The preponderance of removals were in swing states of Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas.
- July 13: DeJoy announced major operational changes leading to slower and less reliable mail delivery. The changes included prohibiting overtime and curtailing other measures that local postmasters have used to ameliorate staffing shortages.
- Late July: the Postal Service sent letters to election officials in 46 states and the District of Columbia warning that, under the Service’s delivery standards, their deadlines relating to mail-in voting may result in ballots not being returned in time to be counted.
- July 25: “Expedited to Street/Afternoon Sortation” (ESAS) program, launched this day, which slows first-class mail to 1,200 zip codes zones around the country by moving sorting from morning to afternoon. It disproportionately targets urban areas more likely to vote Democratic.
- August 7: DeJoy released a memo reorganizing the Postal Service, reassigning or displacing 23 executives, implementing a hiring freeze, and seeking early retirements. Analysts said that the structure centralized power around DeJoy and de-emphasizes decades of institutional postal knowledge, not unlike how Trump reorganized the White House.
- August 13: Photographs of government workers removing mail collection boxes were seen on social media throughout the country. On the same day, DeJoy issued an internal memo to his staff, acknowledging that his operational changes had produced “unintended consequences that impacted our overall service levels.”
- August 13: Trump said it out loud – that he’s blocking emergency Postal Serice funding in order to thwart an election by mail “They need that money in order to make the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting.”
Investigate Treasure Secretary Mnuchin too!
- According to a NYTimes article, Mr. Mnuchin invited two GOP members of the USPS Board of Governor (USPSBOG), including Chairman Robert Duncan, to a meeting where he made clear that he wanted them to find a postmaster general who would push through the kind of cost-cutting and price increases that President Trump had publicly called for and that Treasury had recommended in a December 2018 report as a way to stem years of multibillion-dollar losses.
- Since 1970, the Postal Service had been an independent agency, walled off from political influence. The postmaster general is selected by the board of governors, not by the president and is not a cabinet member. Seats are reserved for both parties, nominations are made by the president and confirmed by the Senate for 7-year terms.
- The two Democratic governors were not invited, and there is no official record of what was said.
- David C. Williams, former vice chair of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors (USBOG) accused Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday of trying to engineer a hostile takeover of the service, telling lawmakers that Mr. Mnuchin politicized the postal service and required members of the independent board to “kiss the ring” before they were confirmed and issued demands that agency officials believed were “illegal.”
- Mnuchin used the CARES Act to pressure the USBOG in both the Postmaster General selection process, illegally review their confidential contracts, and created onerous conditions for the USPS to use their line of credit.
- Mnuchin pushed the USPS to adopt a “fully allocated cost” pricing methodology, which would benefit UPS while making USPS non-competitive in package delivery. (Please see our post on the GOP’s dream of privatizing our national mail service.)
Yes, Dejoy has the power to destroy the election. He just has to hold on to the ballots for one day.
- DeJoy can harm the vote in swing states by holding/slowing ballots until after Election day. (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin):
- Every swing state except North Carolina counts ONLY those mail-in ballots RECEIVED BY Election Day. Ballots postmarked by Nov. 3, but delivered late will not be counted. All DeJoy has to do is hold ballots in trucks or bins, and let the polls close. Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias has filed lawsuits challenging states who refuse ballots with postmarked by Election Day, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s five conservative justices made it clear that states are not obligated to count them—even if the ballots were delayed by forces beyond a voter’s control.
- The GOP can harm the mail-in vote:
- Republican legislators in many states refuse to provide the necessary funds, resources, and personnel to handle all a historic surge in absentee ballots.
- Signature “mismatch” rules disproportionately disenfranchise disabled, young, elderly, or non-native English speakers. “Curing” a ballot from a signature “mismatch” ranges from no notice at all, to 2 weeks after close of polls. (In California, you can sign up to track your ballot.)
One thing is clear. Trump is happy to risk your life and commit a federal crime to stay in power. And he has wealthy friends who want to thank him for all the great tax cuts.
Damage is done:
- The Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs is already being forced to use private services to send prescriptions for patients. Veterans receive approximately 80 percent of their outpatient prescriptions from the Department of Veterans Affairs in the mail. Every work day, more than 330,000 veterans receive a prescription package by mail.
- Slower service, gutted machinery, rotting food, dead animals and chaos have already occurred.
- Small businesses are being hurt. Those who depend on quick, reliable delivery are worried that their products won’t arrive in a safe condition.
- Millions of Americans rely on the post office for prescription drugs, Social Security checks, government assistance payments, tax refunds, and even coronavirus stimulus checks that bear Trump’s name.
- “Confidence in this administration doing what it’s supposed to is shot. The ability of Postmaster General DeJoy to do what he’s supposed to is gone. But the confidence in the men and women who work in the Postal Service, who — day in, day out — deliver on time and through rain and all the rest? I think everybody knows that we respect the folks who do the work, and they have never been the problem.” – CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
The Resistance strikes back.
- Aug. 18: At least 21 states were planning to sue the Post Office and U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy (a Trump supporter-cum-government-appointee) for operational changes made ahead of the election
- Aug. 22: Over 800 protests involving thousands of protesters took place on Saturday at 11:00 am local time across the nation remind our legislators – that since the Postal Policy Act of 1958, we consider our post office to follow this: “The postal establishment was created to unite more closely the American people, to promote the general welfare, and to advance the national economy,” and though the post office “should be operated in an efficient manner, it clearly is not a business enterprise conducted for profit or for raising general funds.”
- Here’s a nice collection of protest pics. Here’s our protest rally in front of the Wake Forest Post Office in Ventura, CA.
Win or lose, America will lose. After the election, DeJoy will gut the USPS, getting it ready for privatization.
(Please see our post on the GOP’s dream of privatizing our national mail service.)
Instead of doing the most effective action to help the USPS is removing the pre-fund mandate from 2006, DeJoy is planning to gut the service instead. He has the full support of idiots like Senator Rand Paul, who said slimming down the frequency of the agency’s deliveries would be the easiest way to keep providing personalized service to people at their homes.
“The plans under consideration, described by four people familiar with Postal Service discussions, would come after the election and touch on all corners of the agency’s work. They include raising package rates, particularly when delivering the last mile on behalf of big retailers; setting higher prices for service in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico; curbing discounts for nonprofits; requiring election ballots to use first-class postage; and leasing space in Postal Service facilities to other government agencies and companies.”
“Americans are experiencing delays and postal workers are seeing changes with their own eyes, and, yet, congressional offices have been told for weeks that nothing has changed at the Postal Service. We know now that wasn’t true,” Sen. Thomas R.Carper (D) said in a statement. “Make no mistake, if these reckless policies are implemented it will undermine this American institution and hurt seniors, rural communities, small businesses and households that lack access to broadband the most.”
Meanwhile, the GOP tries to rewrite history, or at least mess with it
Garbled history with DeJoy/Franklin comparisons: “He’s (DeJoy) the most qualified person for that job outside of Fred Smith from FedEx. I’d only counter with Ben Franklin,” said former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R), alluding to FedEx’s chief executive and the nation’s first postmaster general.
- According to actual historian Richard John,“Franklin would be outraged” by the GOP’s shenanigans. “He was an institution builder — he wants to build things up, not tear things down.” Franklin, he argued, wouldn’t support anything that undermined the spread of information and the ability to vote, two pillars of American democracy.”
- “The Post Office is one of the most equalizing forces in American society,” Historian Joseph Adelman wrote. It’s become a mechanism for freedom of the press, distribution of medicine and a way to vote — some of the most important public functions of a healthy democracy, he added. “Harming that mission and appearing to do so intentionally harms democracy,” he said — and all that Benjamin Franklin stood for.