North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said Tuesday that a dubious campaign finance scheme reportedly perpetrated by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy “merits investigation” by authorities.
The remarks from the state’s top law enforcement officer came after The Washington Post reported Sunday that DeJoy, a Republican megadonor, pressured employees at his former North Carolina-based business to make contributions to GOP candidates — expenses that DeJoy reportedly reimbursed through bonuses.
House Democrats announced Tuesday that they would probe the allegations against DeJoy, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted Sunday that Stein “is the right person to start this investigation.”
President Donald Trump also expressed openness Monday to investigating DeJoy, and even suggested he would be willing to oust his embattled appointee from the administration.
“If something can be proven that he did something wrong, always,” Trump told reporters at a White House news conference, when asked whether DeJoy should leave his job if he violated campaign finance law.
A spokesperson for DeJoy told the Post that the postmaster general believes he always followed campaign fundraising laws and regulations.
In an interview Tuesday on MSNBC, Stein said the “idea that somebody would make a contribution and then be reimbursed by a corporation or an individual” as a “straw donor” represents a clear “violation of the law.”
“Any credible allegations along those lines need to be investigated to determine whether the law was violated, whether it’s state law or federal,” he said.
But because North Carolina’s attorney general is also the counsel to the North Carolina State Board of Elections and sometimes assists local district attorneys with prosecuting cases, Stein said he “can’t get into the specifics of any particular case,” including DeJoy’s.
“I can just say that any allegation that’s this serious merits investigation,” he said.
Stein also noted that DeJoy could be exposed to potential prosecution regardless of when the alleged campaign finance scheme took place, as it would constitute a felony in North Carolina.
“And for felonies, there are no statute of limitations,” he said.
DeJoy came under intense scrutiny from congressional Democrats last month for his plans to implement substantial operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service.
Trump also was attacked after saying he opposed election security grants and additional funding for the cash-strapped federal agency because those provisions would help facilitate voting by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic.