23 Questions for the Postmaster General

The good old U.S. Postal Service has never been as interesting — or as pivotal — as it is right now. The legitimacy of mail-in voting and the outcome of the presidential election hang in the balance. So Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s appearances before the Senate today and the House of Representatives on Monday are opportunities for legislators to grill him, under oath, about the upheaval and controversy accompanying him as he settles into his new job.

Here are 23 questions that should elucidate whether the White House has been directing DeJoy to weaken U.S.P.S. operations:

1) You’re the first postmaster general in two decades with no experience working at the Postal Service. You did own a company, New Breed Logistics, that worked with the Postal Service. But New Breed reportedly focused on basic services, such as repairing postal equipment, mail bags and hampers and developing systems that could track inventories of mail bags and containers. So what do you think qualified you to be postmaster general?

2) You have been a generous political donor to President Donald Trump and a number of other powerful Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Please detail anything those people did to help you secure your job.

3) What priorities for the Postal Service did President Trump convey to you in conversations, email or text messages?

4) How extensively did members of the Postal Service’s board of governors interview you for your job, and what were their priorities when they decided to appoint you postmaster general?

5) Did Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or anyone else in the federal government communicate to you in any way that you were expected to take steps to slow down mail delivery?

6) Did Trump or anyone else communicate to you in any way that you were expected to disrupt or hamper mail-in voting?

7) Nonetheless, you have taken steps that have slowed mail delivery and could disrupt mail-in voting. You said this week that you would roll back those moves until after the November election. So let’s discuss them. Have you fully restored overtime hours and pay for postal workers, and has that addressed the troubling delivery backlog of letters and packages?

8) What percentage of mail sorting equipment was removed from post offices and major delivery hubs under your watch, and have you replaced all of that equipment?

9) Have retail hours at post offices around the country been restored to what they were before you became postmaster general?

10) How many mail processing facilities have been closed, and are they now reopened and fully staffed?

11) There have been reports that mailboxes have been removed from sidewalks around the country. The Postal Service has said those removals were due to underutilization or were part of routine reallocations of mailboxes to high-traffic areas. Is that true, and were any orders given to remove or relocate mailboxes for any other reason, including slowing down mail delivery?

12) Have Trump or Mnuchin discussed withholding billions of dollars in federal bailout funding earmarked for the Postal Service as a way to punish the Service, derail its operations or slow down mail delivery?

13) The Postal Service’s inspector general is now examining your recent changes and their effects. Do you plan to cooperate fully and openly with the IG?

14) Much of your personal wealth includes substantial investments in companies that do business with or compete with the Postal Service. Do you think that’s a financial conflict of interest?

15) Please explain why you sold stock you held in Amazon.com Inc. on June 24 — and why, on the same day, you purchased options to buy more of the stock at a future date.

16) Trump has said repeatedly, for years, that the Postal Service loses money on every package it delivers. Is that true?

17) Package deliveries are actually profitable for the Postal Service and have provided a nice revenue boost, haven’t they?

18) Have Trump or Mnuchin ever discussed with you package delivery rates charged to Amazon and other e-commerce companies?

19) Have they spoken about those rates as a way to punish or otherwise cause business problems for Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos?

20) The Postal Service actually loses money because basic mail delivery is unprofitable, and the service has to prefund health benefits for future retirees, isn’t that correct?

21) Have you contemplated raising postal rates and adjusting how pension benefits are accounted for as a way to improve the Postal Service’s finances?

22) Do you think it’s problematic that the military, public schools, police and fire departments, and the White House also aren’t profitable?

23) Do you regard the Postal Service as a business or a public service?

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

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