Washington — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened an investigation into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in connection to his past political fundraising while working in the private sector, three people familiar with the matter confirmed to CBS News.
The investigation follows a report by The Washington Post last year that alleged DeJoy's employees at New Breed Logistics, the North Carolina-based company where he served as CEO, were pressured to make campaign donations or attend fundraisers for GOP candidates and then were reimbursed for their contributions through bonuses. Former President Trump selected DeJoy to lead the U.S. Postal Service last May, and he had been a major donor to Republican candidates, including the former president's campaign.
The Washington Post first reported the FBI's investigation into DeJoy, and his spokesman, Mark Corallo, confirmed the probe.
"Mr. DeJoy has learned that the Department of Justice is investigating campaign contributions made by employees who worked for him when he was in the private sector," Corallo said in a statement. "He has always been scrupulous in his adherence to the campaign contribution laws and has never knowingly violated them."
DeJoy's tenure as postmaster general has been rocky, marked by his decision in 2020 to implement a series of operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service that led to mail delays. Democrats accused DeJoy of working to hinder the agency in the run-up to the presidential election, which brought a flood of mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Facing pushback from the public and Capitol Hill, DeJoy, put in place to cut costs at the Postal Service, until after the November election.
But the postmaster general's troubles extended to his work in the private sector following the Post's report in September about the alleged practice of reimbursing his employees for political contributions.
The Democratic-led House Oversight and Reform committeeinto DeJoy and the reported scheme. Its chair, Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York, claimed he "could face criminal exposure" for the practice and for lying to Congress under oath if the accusations are true.
Corallo said DeJoy has "fully cooperated with and answered the questions posed by Congress regarding these matters."
"The same is true of the Postal Service Inspector General's inquiry which after a thorough investigation gave Mr. DeJoy a clean bill of health on his disclosure and divestment issues," he said. "He expects nothing less in this latest matter and he intends to work with DOJ toward swiftly resolving it."
DeJoy denied repaying his employees at New Breed Logistics for donations to GOP candidates during testimony before the House Oversight panel in August and called the suggestion by Congressman Jim Cooper, a Democrat from Tennessee, that he did so an "outrageous claim."
"I'm fully aware of legal campaign contributions, and I resent the assertion," DeJoy said. "What are you accusing me of?"
Still, a slew of Democratic lawmakers have called for DeJoy to resign.
Congressman Ted Lieu of California told CBS News that while he would like more facts to come to light, DeJoy should step down. A former prosecutor, Lieu said he knows "that when you open up an investigation on one topic, It could lead to other topics as well."
"In August 2020, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and I sent a letter asking for an investigation into Louis DeJoy for a number of possible criminal violations and as sometimes is the case, if they do an investigation, it may lead to other additional possible criminal acts," Lieu said. "And it appears that what happened is, you had employees of Louis Dejoy make contributions to candidates and then based on what the employees said they will get reimbursed through higher bonuses and that is a straw donor scheme. It's illegal under the federal code and punishment includes both fines and jail time."
Asked whether DeJoy should step down, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at Thursday's White House press briefing that she will "leave the investigation and the process" to the Justice Department.
Nikole Killion contributed to this report.
for more features.