Can State and Local Democrats Use Power? The North Carolina Edition

A common malady of the professional Democrat is the unwillingness to play political hardball, to use power to accomplish policy ends. While that, I suppose, does have the saving grace of making them very unlikely to become authoritarians, it also makes them very reluctant to use power when it needs to be used.

Over the long weekend, we discovered that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy committed multiple campaign funding crimes–the kind which, going all the way back to the Clinton administration, have sent people to jail (boldface mine):

Louis DeJoy’s prolific campaign fundraising, which helped position him as a top Republican power broker in North Carolina and ultimately as head of the U.S. Postal Service, was bolstered for more than a decade by a practice that left many employees feeling pressured to make political contributions to GOP candidates — money DeJoy later reimbursed through bonuses, former employees say.

Five people who worked for DeJoy’s former business, New Breed Logistics, say they were urged by DeJoy’s aides or by the chief executive himself to write checks and attend fundraisers at his 15,000-square-foot gated mansion beside a Greensboro, N.C., country club. There, events for Republicans running for the White House and Congress routinely fetched $100,000 or more apiece.

Two other employees familiar with New Breed’s financial and payroll systems said DeJoy would instruct that bonus payments to staffers be boosted to help defray the cost of their contributions, an arrangement that would be unlawful.

“Louis was a national fundraiser for the Republican Party. He asked employees for money. We gave him the money, and then he reciprocated by giving us big bonuses,” said David Young, DeJoy’s longtime director of human resources, who had access to payroll records at New Breed from the late 1990s to 2013 and is now retired. “When we got our bonuses, let’s just say they were bigger, they exceeded expectations — and that covered the tax and everything else.”

Although it can be permissible to encourage employees to make donations, reimbursing them for those contributions is a violation of North Carolina and federal election laws. Known as a straw-donor scheme, the practice allows donors to evade individual contribution limits and obscures the true source of money used to influence elections.

Such federal violations carry a five-year statute of limitations. There is no statute of limitations in North Carolina for felonies, including campaign finance violations.

Here’s where it gets interesting: the attorney general of North Carolina is a Democrat, and, as the above article indicates, he can prosecute DeJoy–and, importantly, Trump can’t pardon him (and the current governor is also a Democrat, so pardons there might not be forthcoming).

Postmaster General DeJoy, whether motivated by political chicanery or slavish devotion to bad management theory, is fucking up the postal service. We have a Democratic official who is uniquely positioned to stop him. The question is will Attorney General Stein do that, or will he go full Rep. Richard Neal and take a dive when his country needs him?

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