RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) – North Carolina’s attorney general said allegations against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy involving violating of campaign finance laws are “worthy of an investigation.”
Attorney General Josh Stein’s comments come the same day U.S. House Democrats said they will investigate whether DeJoy encouraged employees at his former business to contribute to Republican candidates and then reimbursed them in the guise of bonuses.
Five people who worked for DeJoy’s former company, New Breed Logistics, say they were urged by DeJoy’s aides or by DeJoy himself to write checks and attend fundraisers at his mansion in Greensboro, North Carolina, The Washington Post reported. Two former employees told the newspaper that DeJoy would later give bigger bonuses to reimburse for the contributions.
“It is against the law to reimburse someone for a campaign contribution either by a person in which case you’d be giving in the name of another or by a corporation it becomes a straw donor at that point,” Stein said.
The attorney general went on to say he thought the allegations in the story were “very serious.”
“Whenever there are substantial serious allegations like this that allege a violation of campaign-finance law, it’s worthy of an investigation by the appropriate federal and state authorities,” Stein told CBS 17’s Russ Bowen in response to the Washington Post’s story.
However, Stein said he could not comment on any current investigation and that the North Carolina State Board of Elections would lead any investigation – which his office represents.
North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis’ 2014 campaign received some of the donations in question.
Tillis (R) released a statement in the wake of the Washington Post’s story that read:
“Even the Washington Post is calling out Democrats for slandering Senator Tillis with partisan attacks that have no basis in reality. The Democratic Party’s claims are all the more ridiculous given Wayne Goodwin has not yet returned the contributions he took from a convicted felon who tried to bribe elected officials. Cal Cunningham abused taxpayer dollars to make $40,000 worth of lavish renovations to his home, pocketed taxpayer-funded per diems for work he did not do as an elected official, and financially benefited from a Paycheck Protection Program loan to the company he got caught lying about no longer working for. If anyone owes North Carolinians some money back, it’s Cal Cunningham.”
Tillis’ office said neither the senator nor his campaign had knowledge of these findings.
Tillis’ opponent in the General Election, Cal Cunningham (D), is calling for the senator to return those funds.
“North Carolinians know political corruption when we see it and this report shows corruption in action, like the corruption I took on in Army service and will take on in Washington,” said Cal Cunningham. “As veterans in our state aren’t getting their mailed prescriptions on time, this news and the tens of thousands in donations Senator Tillis has taken from DeJoy over his political career offer a clear explanation for Tillis’ defense of DeJoy. Tillis should both condemn these findings and refund the donations in question.”Cal Cunningham
A spokesperson for DeJoy released the following statement to CBS 17:
“Louis DeJoy, in his personal capacity and as CEO of New Breed Logistics, encouraged employees and family members to be active in their communities, schools, churches, civic groups, sporting events and the politics that governs our nation. Mr. DeJoy consistently provided family members and employees with various volunteer opportunities to get involved in activities that a family member or employee might feel was important or enjoyable to that individual.
Mr. DeJoy was never notified by the New Breed employees referenced by the Washington Post of any pressure they might have felt to make a political contribution, and he regrets if any employee felt uncomfortable for any reason.
During his leadership of New Breed Logistics, Mr. DeJoy sought and received legal advice from the former General Counsel of the Federal Election Commission on election laws, including the law of political contributions, to ensure that he, New Breed Logistics and any person affiliated with New Breed fully complied with any and all laws. Mr. DeJoy believes that all campaign fundraising laws and regulations should be complied with in all respects.”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement Tuesday that if the allegations are true, “DeJoy could face criminal exposure — not only for his actions in North Carolina, but also for lying to our Committee under oath.”
She was referring to DeJoy’s testimony before her committee last month, when he forcefully denied that he had repaid executives for contributing to Trump’s campaign.
Maloney, a New York Democrat, urged the Postal Service Board of Governors to immediately suspend DeJoy, whom “they never should have selected in the first place.”
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., chairman of the oversight panel’s government operations subcommittee, said DeJoy has “repeatedly broken the trust of the American people and must resign or be fired.”
Monty Hagler, a spokesperson for DeJoy, told the Post that DeJoy was unaware that any workers felt pressure to make donations. Hagler also said DeJoy believes he has always complied with campaign fundraising laws and regulations.
President Donald Trump said Monday that DeJoy, a major donor to Trump and other Republicans, should lose his job if campaign finance irregularities are uncovered.
DeJoy already faces unrelated scrutiny from Congress for U.S. Postal Service changes that some fear will slow delivery of mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 elections.
DeJoy was put in charge of the Postal Service in June after a career in logistics and set in motion a series of policy changes that have delayed mail and sparked concern over the agency’s ability to process a flood of mail-in ballots expected this fall due to coronavirus fears.
The oversight committee recently subpoenaed DeJoy for records about widespread mail delivery delays that have pushed the Postal Service into the political spotlight.