Sarbanes Examines Allegations That Postmaster General DeJoy Engaged in Illegal Campaign Finance Scheme [Video]
WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing today, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) spoke with former Federal Election Commission Chair Ann Ravel about reports that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy pressured employees at his former company to make political contributions to Dejoy’s preferred candidates and then illegally reimbursed the employees for their donations.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee announced last week that it would investigate the Postmaster General’s conduct.
“On August 24, in front of the full Oversight Committee, Postmaster General DeJoy and the USPS Board of Governors testified,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “And at that hearing Mr. DeJoy stated quote, ‘I have no patterns of misconduct in my background,’ end quote. Well, obviously, based on what we know now, based on some of the testimony we’re getting today, we know that assertion is patently absurd."
Sarbanes continued: “In fact amidst the endless parade of conflicts of interest that we have seen from the Trump Administration, Mr. DeJoy’s conduct really sinks to new depths…. As the Post has reported, between 2000 and 2017, he may have allegedly operated this kind of straw donor scheme at his company by reimbursing employees in their salaries for contributions being made to Republican candidates. Miss Ravel, if the reports from The Washington Post about Mr. DeJoy are true – and knowing what you do about campaign finance law – would you say that those actions qualify as misconduct?”
Ravel responded: “Yes … if they are true – and since they quoted employees who indicated that there is veracity to it – it would certainly qualify as criminal conduct in addition to civil … which is why in my testimony I quoted the Department of Justice, who in 2017 indicated that these sorts of schemes are clearly illegal … so I think they’re very serious allegations.”
Congressman Sarbanes continued: “The Post found that between 2000 and 2014, 124 individuals who worked for the company together gave more than $1 million dollars to federal and state GOP candidates. And this is worth noting: Many of these individuals had not previously made political donations and they’ve not made any political donations since leaving the company. So something was going on there and as a former Commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, I’d be interested in knowing from you – if the allegations are true – exactly how does Mr. DeJoy’s action violate the federal election laws. What’s the chapter and verse on that in terms of these straw donor schemes?”
Ravel answered: “It is illegal and a felony to reimburse contributions. There is no question. If it is serious and willful, that’s what the law provides. When a person contributes, wants to contribute to a campaign, but doesn’t want to disclose that they’re the donor – either because it’s an illegal contribution from a corporation or for some other reason that they don’t want to be identified – the statute is extremely clear that, that is – on its face – illegal.”
See below for the full exchange.