WASHINGTON – The FBI is investigating campaign contributions tied to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's former business, his spokesman confirmed to USA TODAY.
Mark Corallo, DeJoy's spokesman, said the Justice Department is investigating campaign contributions that employees made when DeJoy was in the private sector, but he said DeJoy never knowingly violated campaign contribution laws.
Investigators have asked DeJoy's current and former employees about political contributions and company activities, according to the Washington Post, which first reported on the inquiry.
The FBI said it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation. The U.S. Postal Service declined to comment.
DeJoy, a longtime Republican donor and ally of former President Donald Trump, has been the subject of controversy since he became head of the U.S. Postal Service in May 2020.
The Democrat-led House Oversight Committee is investigating whether DeJoy pressured his former employees into giving political donations to Republicans. The investigation began after the Washington Post reported that DeJoy urged former employees to make political contributions and reimbursed them in the form of bonuses.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chair of the committee, said DeJoy may have lied to Congress when he denied the allegations during a testimony in August.
"That's an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it," DeJoy told Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., who asked whether he paid back executives and employees of his old company for donations to Trump's campaign.
Corallo, DeJoy's spokesman, reiterated that DeJoy had previously answered questions from Congress about political contributions.
"The same is true of the Postal Service Inspector General’s inquiry, which after a thorough investigation gave Mr. DeJoy a clean bill of health on his disclosure and divestment issues. He expects nothing less in this latest matter and he intends to work with DOJ toward swiftly resolving it," Corallo said.
In September, the Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that DeJoy's former employees and family members gave more than $150,000 to the same candidates or committees between 2015 and 2018. More than $50,000 went to Trump Victory, Trump's fundraising committee.
"These are serious violations, and we are pleased that CLC's research and complaint triggered the Department of Justice to investigate," Brendan Fischer, the center's director of federal reform, said in a statement, adding that the FEC should take a more active role in investigating possible campaign finance violations. "We need a stronger FEC to enforce campaign finance laws and hold political candidates and their donors accountable."
DeJoy also stirred outrage over a series of changes he initiated since becoming postmaster general, including cutting overtime for mail carriers and removing mail-sorting machines in postal facilities.
Critics say the measures led to nationwide delays in mail delivery at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in demand for mail service.
A few months before the last presidential election, which saw a record increase in mail-in voting because of the pandemic, the U.S. Postal Service warned election officials that ballots requested by their deadlines and mailed back may not be delivered in time to be counted. This raised suspicions among advocacy groups that the warnings were politically motivated.
Around this time, Democrats urged the FBI to investigate whether DeJoy, who donated more than $1.2 million to the Trump Victory Fund and hosted a Trump fundraiser at his home, intended to affect the results of the election by sabotaging mail-in voting. The former president has repeatedly cast doubt on the legitimacy of the last presidential election by falsely claiming that mail-in voting is to blame for widespread voter fraud.
"It is not unreasonable to conclude that Postmaster General DeJoy ... may be executing Donald Trump's desire to affect mail-in balloting," Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Hakeem Jeffreys, D-N.Y., said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray last August.
DeJoy, who has denied the allegations, later said he would pause operational changes to the U.S. Postal Service until after the presidential election "to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail."
Contributing: Nicholas Wu and Matthew Brown
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: FBI investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over campaign giving