On Wednesday, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer went public with information he had obtained showing the role Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had in recruiting Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and getting the USPS Board of Governors to appoint him. In a letter to Robert Duncan, chairman of the USPS Board of Governors that he released, Schumer wrote that his office had “learned of the role Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had with the Postal Board of Governors, including through meetings with individual governors as well as phone calls with groups of governors, which has not been previously disclosed by the board.”
By the way, Duncan is also director of American Crossroads, a super PAC that’s backing Trump in the 2020 election. So that's nice for them. The Board of Governors and the private executive search firm, Russell Reynolds Associates, have been stonewalling Schumer's attempts to determine the extent to which Mnuchin drove the appointment of DeJoy, Schumer alleges. His assertion was backed up by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which obtained documents confirming that Mnuchin was involved in the Board of Governors’ selection of DeJoy. What's more, CREW found, Mnuchin has also been pressuring the Board on the USPS's “pricing structure in the e-commerce ground package delivery market.”
Mnuchin's aim, apparently, was to make the USPS prices less competitive vis-a-vis UPS and FedEx, companies that both have close ties with the Trump administration. As CREW notes, the "companies have been featured prominently by the Trump administration, and even promoted as the backdrop to Trump’s celebration of America’s truckers, and 'Remarks on Rebuilding of America’s Infrastructure.'" Mnuchin met with UPS CEO and Chairman David Abney, another of Trump's major donors, on December 10, 2019, CREW asserts. Two weeks later, Mnuchin wrote the USPS Board of Governors, asking that they keep him "apprised of the progress" in selection process. In a March 31 letter from Duncan to Mnuchin, Duncan refers to a February 6 meeting Mnuchin had with the board to, again, "provide an update on our search."
This is all happening, by the way, during the surge of coronavirus infections and the economic disaster that was happening with it. You'd think Mnuchin would have more than enough on his plate than to be spending time on the selection of the postmaster general. He wanted DeJoy, another major Trump donor, in the job. DeJoy, by the way, held between $265,000 and $550,000 in UPS stock until he got the job, when he divested. He still holds "between $30 and $75 million in assets in other USPS contractors and competitors."
DeJoy is the first person to obtain the job of postmaster general without rising through the ranks of the institution. When his appointment was announced, Mnuchin praised him, saying “Louis DeJoy’s knowledge of supply chains, logistics, and management make him an outstanding choice to serve as the 75th Postmaster General of the United States.” If your objective for the USPS is to destroy it as a public institution. By all accounts, that's what Mnuchin is after, because it'll mean bigger profits for UPS and FedEx.
The fact that all this is happening in a pandemic that will force millions to vote by mail, and is thus upending the November election, is as much a key factor as the financial corruption. It's one big ball of grift, as a matter of fact. Keeping Trump and Republicans, but especially Trump, in office clearly means more money for all Mnuchin's corporate buddies. It's just lucky for democracy that this is all happening now, in August, while there's time to respond. It's also very handy that this week is bringing so much bad USPS news along with congressional hearings and the House vote to restore the USPS' integrity and to inject it with $25 billion in emergency funding.
The hearings Friday in the Senate and Monday in the House are definitely going to be lit with all the information that's been revealed this week. But it can't end with DeJoy. Mnuchin is going to have to appear to answer for his part in all of this as well. It should be enough dirt to leverage more assistance out of him to help Democrats secure more coronavirus relief for struggling Americans.