Once upon a time, most Americans would have been hard-pressed to name the postmaster general. That fabled time was any time before May of this year, when Donald Trump replaced Postmaster General Megan Brennan with Louis DeJoy. And yes, I had to look up Megan Brennan.
What position of power did Brennan occupy before taking over the Postal Service under Barack Obama? None. Brennan started as a mail carrier at the Postal Service in 1986, delivering letters to neighborhoods in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She worked her way through the ranks at the USPS. For more than a decade, she headed up distribution and transportation in the Northeast before taking over as postmaster in her 27th year with the Postal Service.
Compare that Louis DeJoy. His postal-related career was almost as long as Brennan’s. It’s just that DeJoy spent that career practicing what he’s doing now: Tearing the post office down. And DeJoy doesn’t just owe his new role to Donald Trump—he’s hugely in debt to Mitch McConnell.
Before stepping into the top job in May, DeJoy had a total of zero time with the actual USPS. However, he did have two decades of experience as CEO of a freight company that competed against the Postal Service—making it no surprise that his stock portfolio is full of reasons to destroy the institution where he works. Much more importantly in terms of landing his current position, DeJoy has long been a big fundraiser for the Republican Party in general and for Donald Trump in particular. In fact, DeJoy was named one of four finance chairs for the Republican Party, along with such luminaries as Steve Wynn and Michael Cohen. And DeJoy’s contact with Republican leadership didn’t end with cutting checks for their campaigns.
According to The Washington Post, shortly before Donald Trump met with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer at the White House, he was visited by Louis DeJoy. At the meeting with Democratic leaders, Trump made it clear that he wasn’t providing any funding for the Postal Service. In two later interviews, Trump made it absolutely clear he was depriving the Post Office of funds specifically to hinder its ability to deal with mail-in ballots. And shortly after meeting with Trump, DeJoy removed the officials in charge of day-to-day operations, reassigning 23 top executives and clearing the ranks for more Trump loyalists.
But Trump isn’t the only Republican who’s been visiting with DeJoy, and DeJoy isn’t the only Postal Service leader who can thank Republicans for his sudden rise. As Yahoo! News reports, DeJoy is in "in frequent contact with top Republican Party officials.” Presumably that means Mitch McConnell. Which is quite the coincidence seeing that every single member of the current all-white, all-male Postal Service board of governors can thank McConnell for that role.
As it turns out, since 1970, members of the board of governors have served in staggered 9-year terms. The idea is to have a board whose membership is spread across multiple administrations and which owes allegiance to no particular White House. That should mean that about half those currently seated on the board are left over from Obama’s term in office, with others appointed by Trump. But that’s not what happened. In 2015, Obama re-nominated most of the existing board members for a second term, including those members appointed under Bush. Those six members should all still be on the board. None of them are.
That’s because McConnell did what he did so often—blocked those nominations. By the time Trump stepped in, the number of remaining Bush- and Obama-appointed board members was exactly zero. Then, as with federal judges, McConnell abruptly got out of the way. That means that every single current member of the United States Postal Service board of governors was appointed by Donald Trump. That board then officially ousted lifelong Postal Service employee Megan Brennan, and replaced her with Republican fundraiser Louis DeJoy.
Those thinking that McConnell might rise up to fight against Trump aren’t just backing the wrong turtle. They’re backing the guy who co-owns this mess.