Who Is Louis DeJoy? U.S. Postmaster General In Spotlight Ahead Of 2020 Election Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a longtime Republican donor, controls the U.S. Postal Service at a time when mail-in voting is central to the presidential election.
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Who Is Louis DeJoy? U.S. Postmaster General In Spotlight Ahead Of 2020 Election

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Who Is Louis DeJoy? U.S. Postmaster General In Spotlight Ahead Of 2020 Election

Who Is Louis DeJoy? U.S. Postmaster General In Spotlight Ahead Of 2020 Election

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

During the Democratic National Convention, Democrats have focused on the allegation that President Trump's trying to sabotage the postal system ahead of the election. Alex Padilla, California secretary of state, spoke last night.

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ALEX PADILLA: Despite what he says, Donald Trump can't cancel it. But he and Republicans are making it too hard for so many to cast their ballots. And now he's attacking vote-by-mail to distract and confuse voters.

GREENE: Today, the person at the center of this story goes before Congress. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will appear before a Senate panel amid questions about his motive for big changes at the Postal Service. Here's NPR's Tim Mak.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: One big, overarching question faces Postmaster General Louis DeJoy today. Is he a Republican partisan or a savvy businessman who has the right background to fix the U.S. Postal Service? DeJoy, 63 years old, made his fortune by taking over his father's small trucking company. Here he is introducing himself to postal workers this year.

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LOUIS DEJOY: I am direct and decisive. And I don't mince words. And when I see problems, I work to solve them.

MAK: Over the years, he turned his father's business into a $120 million corporation, with much of the revenue coming from government contracts. But it wasn't without controversy. In 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought a suit against New Breed, his company, for sexual harassment and discrimination against employees at a Memphis warehouse.

TASHA MURRELL: I have worked there several years. I mean, it's a horrible company to work for. I witnessed firsthand sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, poor working conditions. I saw it all there.

MAK: That's Tasha Murrell, one of the employees who said she suffered from sexual harassment while working there. New Breed was eventually acquired by another company called XPO. Over the past 20 years, New Breed, XPO and its related subsidiaries had 17 wage and hour violations with fines totaling $41 million. As his business dealings prospered, DeJoy also became a prominent Republican donor. And that's received notice, including praise from the president himself at a North Carolina event last September.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Also, a friend of mine has been with us from the beginning. He's not a politician, but he might as well be one. He loves us. He loves this party. And he loves your state, lives here, Louis DeJoy, one of the most successful people.

MAK: Records even show that DeJoy has voted by mail once. And in the past five years, he's contributed at least $3.2 million to Republican causes.

TIM STRETTON: The fact that he was a clear political donor to the president raises the question, who is he working for?

MAK: Tim Stretton is a policy analyst at the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight.

STRETTON: He has clear political leanings that favors this administration, which raises questions. Why was he appointed in the first place?

MAK: Still, some say that DeJoy's background in logistics gives him the right resume to take on the Postal Service's financial problems. Rick Geddes is a professor at Cornell and a visiting scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

RICK GEDDES: Well, certainly, most postmasters have come up through the ranks within the Postal Service. I don't view it as a liability. You know, I think it might bring fresh managerial perspectives into the operation of the Postal Service that could be good in the long run.

MAK: DeJoy was selected to be postmaster general by the Postal Service Board of Governors. All were appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate. And they rejected the idea that the appointment had anything to do with politics. Here's one member of the board, John Barger.

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JOHN BARGER: The committee wishes to emphasize that Mr. DeJoy's selection by our board of governors was unanimous. Both Republicans and Democrats embrace this decision.

MAK: They cited DeJoy's experience and the fact that his company was a contractor for the Postal Service. But during the search, one of the Democrats on the board resigned, claiming he raised concerns about DeJoy's background check. In any case, the process of his appointment and the reasons why he proposed major changes to the Postal Service before the election will be topics of concern in Friday's hearing. Tim Mak, NPR News, Washington.

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