Postmaster general under fire over Amazon stock holdings

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Postmaster general Louis DeJoy is under fire over a new CNN report that shows he holds stock options in Amazon, an apparent conflict of interest.

Federal law prohibits employees of the executive branch from holding a financial interest in a company that could have an impact on their government duties. Amazon is a significant customer of the USPS, with some analysts estimating the e-commerce giant uses the post office for around 40 percent of its shipping.

DeJoy held between $100,000 and $250,000 worth of stock in Amazon when he joined the Trump administration, CNN reported, citing financial disclosures. DeJoy divested the shares on June 24th but on the same day bought between $50,000 and $100,000 of Amazon stock options, which give him the right to buy shares in Amazon at $1,860 per share, according to CNN. As a result, he still stands to benefit financially if Amazon’s share price increases. (Amazon stock closed on Thursday at $3,161 per share.)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) tweeted that DeJoy’s purchase of stock options in Amazon after his appointment as postmaster general was “inexcusable,” and said the Office of Inspector General “must investigate this corruption.” Democrats have also raised concerns that DeJoy retained a significant stake in his former company XPO Logistics, which is a contractor for the postal service. In an email statement to The Verge, Warren wrote that DeJoy has a “personal stake in the Postal Service’s decline— and his stake got bigger when he bought Amazon stock after his appointment.”

DeJoy has facing broad criticism for his management of the post office since his appointment in May. Numerous reports of slower mail delivery have led to accusations that the Trump administration is trying to sabotage the post office deliberately, possibly to disrupt the presidential election. On August 7th, DeJoy reduced overtime for postal employees, implemented a hiring freeze, and announced plans to reassign two dozen postal executives. More recently, a report from Vice on Thursday found that postal sorting machines were being deactivated at mail sorting facilities around the country.

Warren and other Democrats sent a letter to the USPS inspector general’s office asking for an investigation into some of the “modifications” DeJoy had made to the agency, specifically in regard to staffing and policies.

President Trump has also complained about Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos, questioning whether a financial arrangement to deliver Amazon packages was “making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer.”

The group of Democrats urged the inspector general in their letter to investigate why the new measures were put into place, how the changes could affect voting by mail in the November election, and to look into potential financial conflicts of interest. The letter says the changes have made mail delivery “slower and less reliable,” putting at risk millions of Americans who rely on mail delivery for prescriptions, Social Security checks, and other kinds of mail. DeJoy has pledged that mail related to the election would not be delayed.

UPDATE August 13th, 6:42PM ET: Added comment from Sen. Elizabeth Warren

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