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Democrats Fear Partisan Slant at Postal Service as Trump Allies Dominate Board

2020-09-09 00:11:50

The three other Republican governors — Mr. Barger, Roman Martinez IV and William D. Zollars — make up a majority of the board, while only two members are Democrats. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, helped vet prospective nominees to the board for Mr. Trump, recommending candidates who would carry out changes that the administration sought. Mr. Mnuchin’s recommendation of Mr. Barger, a California lawyer and financial investment adviser, was seen as helpful, because while he had donated more than $90,000 to Republicans since 2010, he had never given to Mr. Trump.

The board tapped Mr. DeJoy to become postmaster general in June, and he has overseen the removal of hundreds of mail-sorting machines and the limiting of overtime, moves that have coincided with a well-documented slowdown in mail delivery.

The Postal Service board has long been a landing pad for presidential loyalists of both parties, many of whom have continued to donate prolifically to candidates during their tenures. President Bill Clinton nominated a former member of his transition team who served as national finance chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign while serving on the board. But Mr. Trump has been able to shape the Postal Service more than most presidents, entering the White House when not a single governor was in place — Republicans had blocked all of President Barack Obama’s nominees — and as its long-term fiscal viability was increasingly in doubt.

“It’s pretty ominous,” Mr. Welch said. “It really is different. It’s not the way it’s always been.”

Mr. Trump’s skepticism about the quasi-public agency predates his presidency, but during his time in office, he has repeatedly bashed the agency, claiming that it essentially subsidized Amazon, another target of his ire. That company’s founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post, whose coverage has often angered Mr. Trump.

The board members appointed by Mr. Trump have mostly stood by Mr. DeJoy as the changes he has overseen have drawn mounting criticism, though one Democratic governor told lawmakers last month that he had resigned in protest, in part because of fears about the politicization of the agency. The remaining board members have convened more frequently — albeit by teleconference — during the pandemic, with governors seeking greater oversight into the day-to-day operations of the Postal Service heading into the election. The full board is scheduled to hold an in-person meeting on Wednesday morning in Washington. And the bipartisan Expanded Election Mail Task Force met for the first time on Thursday.

“The meeting reaffirmed my faith that the Postal Service is fully ready, willing and committed to deliver the nation’s election mail timely and securely,” Mr. DeJoy said in a statement.


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