WASHINGTON – Federal campaign finance regulators have dismissed two complaints against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy following a legal review that concluded there was no evidence of wrongdoing by DeJoy within a five-year statute of limitations.
The government watchdog groups Campaign Legal Center and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) accused DeJoy in complaints filed last year of running a “straw donor scheme” before he took office at the U.S. Postal Service. The complaints came after five people who worked for DeJoy’s former business told The Washington Post they were urged by his aides or by DeJoy himself to write checks and attend fundraisers for Republican candidates at his Greensboro, N.C., home between 2003 and 2014.
The watchdog groups said a pattern of contributions by some of DeJoy’s associates suggested he continued such a scheme — asking for contributions and reimbursing associates with salary or bonuses — as recently as 2018, even after he had sold his company but was still affiliated with it. But the Federal Election Commission released documents Wednesday showing nearly 20 people who worked for the successor company denied being pressured or reimbursed.
“In light of the specificity of the denials, along with the statute of limitations circumstances, we do not recommend that the Commission expend further resources on this matter,” attorneys for the FEC concluded in April, according to one of the documents the commission released supporting its decision.
In a statement Thursday, DeJoy praised the dismissals.
“I am pleased that this matter has been vetted and resolved by the Federal Election Commission,” DeJoy said. “I remain fully focused on the mission at hand: restoring financial sustainability and service excellence to the United States Postal Service.”
DeJoy could still face criminal exposure related to the alleged fundraising.
The FBI last spring opened a criminal investigation into DeJoy’s fundraising activity, issuing a subpoena to the postmaster general and interviewing current and former employees of DeJoy and his former business, according to several people familiar with the matter and DeJoy’s personal spokesman. The Federal Election Commission’s dismissal has no bearing on the criminal inquiry, which appears to be ongoing. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment Thursday.
The two watchdog groups that filed the FEC complaints against DeJoy said they were disappointed with the outcome.
Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, noted that the FEC declined to open a civil investigation even though there was enough evidence for the FBI to open a criminal investigation and subpoena DeJoy.
“In fact, the FEC couldn’t even muster 4 votes to ask the [Justice Department] about the status of any straw donor criminal probe,” Fischer said in a statement. “This is yet another example of how the FEC’s failure to enforce the law has allowed wealthy special interests to rig the system in their favor.”
Jordan Libowitz, communications director for CREW, said in an interview that his group is “obviously disappointed that the FEC chose to dismiss our complaint.”
“Our legal team is currently reviewing the general counsel’s report that seems to be based on affidavits that contradict The Post’s reporting,” Libowitz said. “Given the information that we had, we felt it was right to file the complaint.”
The FEC decision released this week was made in October, documents show. The commission voted 4-1 to dismiss the complaints, and 3-2 in a separate vote not to communicate with the Justice Department about the cases. The commission’s acting general counsel, Lisa J. Stevenson, recommended dismissal, writing that most of the donations had taken place outside the period covered by the statute of limitations and that 26 of the 63 individual contributors had denied the allegations.
None of those who denied the allegations were among the employees who had raised concerns to The Post last year. One of those who spoke to The Post was David Young, DeJoy’s longtime director of human resources.
“Louis was a national fundraiser for the Republican Party. He asked employees for money. We gave him the money, and then he reciprocated by giving us big bonuses,” said Young, who had access to payroll records at DeJoy’s company, New Breed Logistics, from the late 1990s to 2013. “When we got our bonuses, let’s just say they were bigger, they exceeded expectations – and that covered the tax and everything else.”
The Washington Post’s Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.