Judge threatens to order PMG DeJoy into court
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy came under fire Nov. 4 from a federal district judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C., who threatened to order him into court.
DeJoy also took heat from a U.S. government ethics and accountability watchdog group that charged that his planned $33 million stock divestiture may be a questionable transaction.
Judge Emmet Sullivan voiced his frustration with the postmaster general during a hearing in Washington, warning he might order DeJoy to his courtroom to explain why the U.S. Postal Service did not comply with his order to have postal inspectors search postal facilities for undelivered mail ballots.
“Someone may have a price to pay for that,” Sullivan declared.
Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice told the judge his order to conduct an election eve sweep would have forced the USPS to make substantial changes to its Election Day operations.
The judge replied he would have been happy to consider other options if he had been told his order was burdensome.
Sullivan said he blames the Postal Service’s leadership.
“It’s your clients,” the judge told the Justice Department lawyers, “each and every one of them, starting at the top of the food chain.”
The USPS acknowledged it did not comply with the judge’s order in a statement filed with the court.
“Our understanding at the [previous] hearing was that the court did not intend for the Postal Service to make operational changes on Election Day, but rather to confirm that the existing processes were functioning as anticipated,” the filing said.
Politico, a political journalism company that covered the hearing, said the “heart of the court fight” in Washington was USPS data “suggesting that thousands of ballots received by the Postal Service were not scanned to indicate they have been delivered by Election Day.”
DeJoy came under attack from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics over his plan to divest $33 million worth of stock in XPO Logistics, a transportation and contract logistics firm that holds several contracts with the USPS.
The group said: “According to a new endnote in his financial disclosure report, DeJoy may be getting rid of some of his interest in the company by transferring it to his adult children. While technically legal, such a transaction raises a host of ethics concerns and could result in a ‘sham divestiture’ if his children later return the assets to DeJoy.”
A former logistics executive, DeJoy offered to sell his holding in XPO to avoid conflict of interest allegations.
Asked to comment on these criticisms of DeJoy, David A. Partenheimer, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman, offered a statement rejecting any assumption that the USPS was hiding ballots in its facilities.
“The assumption that there are unaccounted ballots within the Postal Service network is inaccurate,” Partenheimer said. “These ballots were delivered in advance of the election deadlines.”
Partenheimer did not comment on the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics’ allegation about DeJoy’s planned stock divestiture.
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