Political Interference at the U.S. Postal Service

For years, President Donald Trump’s attacks on the U.S. Postal Service were a product of his problematic insistence on viewing the agency as a business rather than an essential public service. But as the coronavirus pandemic forces more Americans to rely on absentee voting to participate in our democracy, those attacks represent a danger not just to low-cost mail delivery, but to voting rights as well.
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In 2018, the president’s public criticism of the U.S. Postal Service raised serious concerns about potential attempts by the Trump administration to privatize the centuries-old agency and sell off a critical piece of the nation’s infrastructure. And the threat of political and industry interference in the operations of the post office has only increased as the nation battles a deadly pandemic that has forced many Americans to rely more than ever on USPS, whether for delivery of medication to the timely return of absentee ballots.

In the spring of 2020, Trump threatened to veto a coronavirus relief bill if it contained money for the financially struggling USPS and directed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to withhold the $10 billion loan approved by Congress, leading to months of protracted negotiations over the terms of the loan. Meanwhile, as primary elections took place across the country, Trump and his allies began making alarmist and unfounded claims about the dangers of voter fraud from increased use of absentee voting.

The appointment of a new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, brought about a number of worrying changes. Before taking on the role, DeJoy was a major Trump donor who was the head of the warehouse and distribution company New Breed Logistics, a firm with a troubling history of anti-union practices and workplace violations. Under DeJoy, USPS began slashing post office hours at locations across the country. The new postmaster also announced plans to eliminate overtime for workers, and directed them to leave mail at distribution centers if it would delay letter carriers getting to their routes.

By mid-summer, Americans already had started noticing significant delays in the delivery of their mail. With the 2020 election just months away — and along with it an expected huge increase in voting by mail — voting-rights advocates have raised the alarm about whether all voters would be able to safely cast their ballots. American Oversight is investigating how the pandemic has impacted USPS, and whether and to what extent the White House is interfering in the agency’s operations or undermining trust in absentee voting — either on behalf of private industry or to benefit the president’s reelection chances.

 

Interferencia política en el Servicio Postal de EEUU

En 2018, la crítica pública del presidente hacia el Servicio Postal de los Estados Unidos (USPS) planteó preocupaciones serias sobre intentos por parte de la administración de Trump para privatizar la agencia centenaria y vender una parte fundamental de la infraestructura del país. Y la amenaza de interferencia política e industrial en las operaciones del servicio postal solo ha aumentado mientras la nación lucha en contra de una pandemia letal que ha obligado a muchos estadounidenses a depender más que nunca del USPS, ya sea para la entrega de medicaciones o el regreso de las papeletas de votación a tiempo. 

En la primavera de 2020, Trump amenazó que haría uso de su vetó para una propuesta de ley de alivio de coronavirus si tuviese fondos para el USPS que había estado batallando con dificultades financieras, y dirigió al Secretario de Tesoro Steven Mnuchin a retener un préstamo de $10 mil millones aprobado por el Congreso, resultando en meses de negociaciones prolongadas sobre las condiciones del préstamo. Mientras tanto, mientras las elecciones primarias tuvieron lugar a través del país, Trump y sus aliados comenzaron a hacer declaraciones alarmistas e infundadas sobre los peligros de fraude electoral producidos por un aumento en el uso del voto en ausencia. 

El nombramiento de un nuevo jefe de correos, Louis DeJoy, trajo consigo un número de cambios problemáticos. Antes de tomar la posición, DeJoy fue un recaudador de fondos principal de Trump, y fue el jefe de un almacén y empresa distribuidora New Breed Logistics, un negocio con una historia preocupante de prácticas antisindicales y con violaciones laborales. Debajo del liderazgo de DeJoy, el USPS comenzó a recortar las horas de operación de las oficinas postales a través del país. El nuevo jefe de correos también anunció planes para eliminar horas extras para empleados, y los dirigió a dejar el correo en los centros de distribución si eso retrasaría a los carteros a terminar sus rutas. 

A mediados del verano, los estadounidenses ya habían empezado a notar retrasos significativos en la entrega del correo. Con la elección de 2020 a solo meses — y como se ha de esperar con la elección, un aumento enorme en la votación por correo — los proponentes del derecho al voto han elevado la alarma sobre si todos los votantes van a poder emitir sus papeletas. American Oversight esta investigando cómo la pandemia ha impactado al USPS, y si es que y hasta qué punto la Casa Blanca está interfiriendo en las operaciones de la agencia o disminuyendo confianza en el voto por ausencia — ya sea en nombre de la industria privada o para beneficiar la reelección del presidente. 

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