Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

Louis DeJoy, who is expected to begin serving in his role on June 15, has donated more than $2 million to the Trump campaign and Republican causes since 2016.

A major donor to President Trump and the man in charge of fundraising for the Republican National Convention will be the new leader of the United States Postal Service, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. The nomination all but ensures a loyalist will run an agency that Trump wants to overhaul, which could play a key role in the 2020 election.

The Postal Service’s board of governors announced Wednesday that Louis DeJoy, chairman and CEO of New Breed Logistics and a longtime Republican donor, would serve as the new postmaster general. 

DeJoy, who is expected to begin serving in his role on June 15, has donated more than $2 million to the Trump campaign and Republican causes since 2016, according to the Federal Election Commission. That includes $360,600 to the Trump Victory Fund since January. DeJoy has also served as the finance chair for the RNC convention in August and has worked with Katie Walsh, a Republican consultant, to plan the event. 

Despite his clear partisan leanings, DeJoy was nominated to the position unanimously by the USPS board of governors, which includes three Republicans and one Democrat. DeJoy will be the first postmaster general in two decades who did not come from within the agency’s ranks, the Washington Post reports.

“Louis DeJoy understands the critical public service role of the United States Postal Service, and the urgent need to strengthen it for future generations,” Robert M. Duncan, chairman of the board of governors, said in a statement.

DeJoy’s appointment comes at a time when the Postal Service is on the brink of collapse. The agency has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, and Megan Brennan, the current postmaster general, warned that it stands to run out of money by September and asked Congress for $89 billion to offset pandemic losses and other accumulated debts. Rather than provide that funding, Trump and his Treasury Department are negotiating a $10 billion loan for the agency, approved in March as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. 

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As part of the negotiation, Trump has indicated he wants the Postal Service to raise its fees on package deliveries for clients such as Amazon. Trump has repeatedly said the agency doesn’t charge Amazon enough, but the president’s critics argue his attacks on the agency are driven by his anger toward Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon who also owns the Washington Post—a news outlet Trump views as overly critical of him and “fake news.”

“The Postal Service is a joke,” Trump said, adding that the agency should quadruple its shipping prices, even though analysts have argued such an action would put the USPS at a huge market disadvantage.

Brennan, who announced her retirement in late 2019, has repeatedly sparred with the Trump administration over its efforts to take more control over the agency’s finances and operations. With the selection of DeJoy, Trump will have a key ally running the agency.  

If the Trump administration gets its way and overhauls the USPS, the consequences could be felt by millions of Americans who rely on the agency to deliver their paychecks, prescription medication, and medical supplies, as well as businesses that rely on the agency to ship their products.

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DeJoy’s nomination also spurred concerns about the possibility of Republicans exerting nakedly partisan influence over the agency responsible for delivering tens of millions of vote-by-mail ballots each year. As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, the Postal Service stands to play an even greater role in the 2020 election, as many states work to expand their vote-by-mail system to make it safer for residents to vote.

“Vote-By-Mail is essential to Democracy in 2020,” said attorney Marc Elias. “The appointment of a Trump crony to run the Post Office is a very ominous sign. We simply cannot have fair elections in 2020 without a fairly run Postal Service, period.”

Democratic lawmakers pushed back on DeJoy’s nomination in similar terms.  

“President Trump rewards a partisan donor by installing him at the United States Postal Service,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service. “The Postal Service is in crisis and needs real leadership and someone with knowledge of the issues. This crony doesn’t cut it.”

DeJoy’s installation as head of the agency marks just the latest example of Trump installing loyalists in key government positions. In recent months, Trump has named White House lawyer Michael Ellis as senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, appointed the controversial U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, as acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and selected Rep. John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican and key Trump ally, for the permanent DNI role.

Trump has also purged the federal government of those he views as insufficiently deferential to him, including inspectors general. Most recently, he removed Christi Grimm, the top watchdog at the Department of Health and Human Services, after her office released a report on the shortages of coronavirus testing kits and personal protective equipment at hospitals. 

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Given DeJoy’s coziness with Trump, he’s unlikely to meet a similar fate. Instead, he has expressed optimism and eagerness about his new role. 

“Postal workers are the heart and soul of this institution, and I will be honored to work alongside them and their unions,” DeJoy said in a statement. “It will be an incredible honor to serve as Postmaster General, and I commit myself to upholding the Postal Service’s cherished role in our nation.”

If DeJoy winds up being a partisan leader as Democrats fear, it could permanently damage the reputation of one of the most popular American institutions. An astonishing 91% of Americans—including 91% of Republicans—view the USPS favorably, the highest ratings of any federal agency, according to an April survey from the Pew Research Center. No other agency comes within 10 points of the Postal Service’s approval rating.