DETROIT (NEXSTAR) – Changes at the United States Postal Service initiated by a Trump Administration appointee caused a rapid deterioration in the first-class mail on-time delivery rate, according to a new report released by the top Senate Democrat in charge of postal oversight.
On Wednesday, the office of Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.) released a report titled “Failure to Deliver” after an investigation into changes initiated this summer by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
DeJoy, a major donor to Republicans and President Donald Trump, took over the agency in June after a career in logistics and set in motion a set of policy changes that have delayed mail and sparked concern over the agency’s ability to process mail-in ballots this fall.
He has appeared before Congress twice in recent weeks to testify about the removal of the agency’s blue collection boxes and mail sorting machines, as well as changes to trucking operations and overtime hours that postal workers say are resulting in delays. Amid a public outcry, DeJoy said he halted some of the changes until after election.
According to a summary from Peters’ office, Dejoy’s changes “resulted in compromised service and serious harm for veterans, small businesses, rural communities, seniors, and millions of Americans who rely on the mail.”
DeJoy’s directives led to delivery delays for 350 million pieces of mail over the five weeks they were in place, totaling about 7 percent of all first-class deliveries, according to reporting from the Washington Post.
“These delays resulted in an estimated 85 million more late deliveries in a single week by early August, an example of the impacts that have lasted for months,” Peters’ office said in a press release.
Peters says 7,700 people, including many postal workers, reached out to his office with concerns about the delays.
“Accounts from USPS workers contradict DeJoy’s statements about the status of certain operational changes, including limitations on overtime – and the Postal Service has still not answered questions about these conflicting reports,” the release reads.
Peters is calling on his colleagues to pass a bill that prevents USPS executives from making changes that “could harm service during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The report comes after a government watchdog group asked authorities in North Carolina to investigate DeJoy over allegations that he pressured staffers at his former business to donate to Republicans and then illegally reimbursed those staffers with bonuses.
Common Cause North Carolina filed a formal complaint with the state Board of Elections earlier this month and asked North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein to investigate the allegations. House Democrats are investigating.
Five former employees of DeJoy’s former company, New Breed Logistics, told The Washington Post that DeJoy or his aides urged them to give money to GOP candidates or attend high-priced fundraisers at his Greensboro mansion. DeJoy would then give staffers who donated larger bonuses to offset the cost of the campaign contributions, two other former employees told the newspaper.
It’s not illegal to encourage employees to contribute to candidates, but it is illegal to reimburse them as a way of avoiding federal campaign contribution limits.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.