Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major donor to President Trump and a fund-raiser for the Republican Party, cultivated an environment at his former company that left employees feeling pressured to make donations to Republican candidates, and rewarded them with bonuses for doing so, according to former employees.
The arrangement, first reported by The Washington Post, was described by three former employees at New Breed Logistics, Mr. DeJoy’s former company, who said workers would receive bonuses if they donated to candidates he supported, and that it was expected that managers would participate. A fourth employee confirmed that managers at the company were routinely solicited to make donations. The four former employees spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional retaliation.
The former employees did not say how explicit Mr. DeJoy was about the link between the campaign contributions he was encouraging and the extra compensation, but three of them said it was widely believed that the bonuses were meant to reimburse the political donations. Federal campaign finance laws bar straw-donor schemes, in which an individual reimburses someone else to donate to a political campaign in order to skirt contribution limits. But it is legal to encourage employees to make donations, as Mr. DeJoy routinely did.
A review of campaign finance records shows that over a dozen management-level employees at New Breed would routinely donate to the same candidate on the same day, often writing checks for an identical amount of money. One day in October 2014, for example, 20 midlevel and senior officials at the company donated a total of $37,600 to the campaign of Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, who was running to unseat a Democratic incumbent. Each official wrote a check for either $2,600, the maximum allowable donation, or $1,000.
Similar patterns stretch back to 2003, campaign finance records show, with contributions to President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign. Mr. DeJoy’s wife, Dr. Aldona Wos, was the vice chairwoman of Mr. Bush’s North Carolina fund-raising team, and Mr. Bush later appointed her to serve as the ambassador to Estonia. Mr. DeJoy, a Republican megadonor, served as the chief executive of New Breed from 1983 to 2014, until the company was sold to XPO Logistics.
A spokesman for Mr. DeJoy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But at a hearing last month, Mr. DeJoy angrily denied a suggestion by Representative Jim Cooper, Democrat of Tennessee, that he had reimbursed his employees’ political donations.
“That’s an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it,” Mr. DeJoy responded. “What are you accusing me of?”
It is unclear how the arrangement was communicated to employees or how extensive it was. One former New Breed employee said he donated to a Republican candidate and never received a bonus, prompting him to never again make another donation. Another employee, Dave Bell, a current vice president at XPO Logistics who started as a vice president at New Breed in 2010, said he had never heard of the arrangement and that “no one ever approached me” to make any political contributions.
Still, the revelations are likely to fuel further scrutiny of the embattled Mr. DeJoy, who has come under fire for his continuing financial ties to a company that does business with the Postal Service and his previous work fund-raising for Republicans.
Josh Stein, North Carolina’s attorney general, said in a statement on Sunday that “it is against the law to directly or indirectly reimburse someone for a political contribution” and that “any credible allegations of such actions merit investigation by the appropriate state and federal authorities.”