Republican Sen. Thom Tillis was a top beneficiary of a straw donor scheme orchestrated by Donald Trump's postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, according to a lengthy and detailed article published over the holiday weekend by The Washington Post.
The Post reports that DeJoy pressured employees at his logistics firm to make large contributions to Republican candidates for over a decade and then reimbursed them with company bonuses—a ploy that would violate both federal and state laws prohibiting "straw donations" designed to get around campaign finance limits. DeJoy pressed for these donations in a bid to win influence as a political power broker, a strategy that culminated in his heavily criticized appointment as head of the United States Postal Service earlier this year.
But before Trump boosted him onto the national political scene, according to the Post, DeJoy directed his efforts chiefly toward politicians in North Carolina, the home state of New Breed Logistics, which he ran for more than 30 years until it was bought out in 2014. Tillis, who faces a difficult reelection this fall, received almost $300,000 from New Breed employees when he first ran for the Senate in 2014—a race in which he defeated incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan by just a 48.8-47.3 margin.
In a statement, a Tillis spokesperson told the Post, "Neither Senator Tillis nor our campaign had knowledge of these findings." However, Tillis' November opponent, Democrat Cal Cunningham, has called on the senator to return the donations. House Democrats, meanwhile, say they are investigating DeJoy, and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said that allegations like those made in the Post's report would "merit investigation," though he declined to comment further.