Local business executive Louis DeJoy used one of his first public forums as the nation’s postmaster general Friday to refute the notion that he is President Donald Trump’s surrogate or lackey.
DeJoy, 63, took center stage at his first U.S. Postal Service “open session” to sharply deny he was beholden to Trump or had any plans to disrupt mail-in voting to help the Republican president’s candidacy, as some critics have suggested.
“While I certainly have a good relationship with the president of the United States, the notion that I would ever make decisions concerning the Postal Service at the direction of the president or anyone else in the administration is wholly off-base,” said DeJoy, a Greensboro resident who initially made a name for himself as the driving force behind a company called New Breed Logistics based in High Point.
The occasion Friday was the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governor’s “open session” — the public part of the periodic two-day gatherings held in Washington by the leadership group to make decisions for the financially troubled system.
The 10-member panel charts the course for the Postal Service in ways similar to the board of directors at a publicly held corporation.
DeJoy pledged that under his stewardship, local and state election officials nationwide could rely on mail carriers to deliver absentee ballots in an election where the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to make that type of voting more popular than ever.
“Let me be clear that with regard to election mail, the Postal Service and I are fully committed to fulfilling our role in the electoral process,” DeJoy said.
He added that “if public-policy makers choose to utilize the mail as part of their election system, we will do everything we can to deliver election mail in a timely manner consistent with our operational standards.”
DeJoy’s recent selection as postmaster general by the governing board sparked questions from some political observers because he is a prominent Republican fundraiser who donated heavily to Trump in recent years, reportedly more than $1 million.
The president’s frequent warnings that he believes mail-in ballots are prone to fraud and could lead to a rigged election has left some wondering what DeJoy had in mind when he took the job.
DeJoy said Friday he sees his role as breathing new life into an organization suffering from “a broken business model.”
He said he plans to use his “business acumen gained from 35 years of commercial experience” in delivery and logistics.
Since taking on his new role in mid-June, DeJoy has made such changes as cutting back overtime and dispatching delivery vehicles on time even if that means leaving behind shipments late to arrive at distribution centers.
More change likely is on the horizon for an organization that he said Friday is facing losses that were “$9 billion in 2019 and closing in on $11 billion for 2020.”
DeJoy’s remarks drew praise from board Chairman Robert “Mike” Duncan for being “very comprehensive.”
But not all were impressed.
The Postal Service desperately needs an influx of cash to thrive, said former Greensboro resident Mark Dimondstein, who is now the president of the American Postal Workers Union in Washington.
Dimondstein said he was disappointed that in DeJoy’s remarks, he did not urge the GOP-run U.S. Senate and the Trump administration to support the $25 billion earmarked for the postal system in the proposed Heroes Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives under Democratic leadership.
If DeJoy truly had the Postal Service ’s best interests at heart, he at least would have mentioned the great need for that money, Dimondstein said.
“If you want to come in and do right by the Postal Service, get Congress and the administration to provide that appropriate relief,” he said. “We like to hear good words, but our deeds are how we are judged.”
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