Postmaster General Louis DeJoy purchased up to $305,000 in bonds from an investment firm whose managing partner also chairs the U.S. Postal Service’s governing board, the independent body responsible for evaluating DeJoy’s performance.
Between October and April, DeJoy purchased 11 bonds from Brookfield Asset Management each worth between $1,000 and $15,000, or $15,000 and $50,000, according to DeJoy’s financial disclosure paperwork. Ron Bloom, a Brookfield senior executive who manages the firm’s private equity division, has served on the postal board since 2019 and was elected its chairman in February.
DeJoy’s financial adviser purchased the bonds on the open market, Postal Service spokesman Jeffrey Adams said, and Bloom manages a division of Brookfield separate from the one that sells public securities.
Two ethics experts interviewed about the transaction disagreed over whether the bond purchases could cause conflict-of-interest issues in the agency’s top ranks. One argued that the transactions raise questions about oversight and governance at the nation’s mail service, which has taken on newfound prominence during the coronavirus pandemic and after the November election, in which nearly half of all voters cast their ballots through the mail. The other said financial connections between government officials could give off the appearance of conflicts without necessarily causing ethics problems.
Other elements of DeJoy’s financial ties have drawn close examination from ethics watchdogs. DeJoy-controlled companies lease four office buildings to global shipping behemoth XPO Logistics, DeJoy’s former company. XPO pays DeJoy more than $2 million annually in rent, The Washington Post previously reported. Brookfield also owns more than $500,000 in shares of XPO, according to its securities filings.
“I’m stuck on DeJoy’s purchase of bonds from the company in which his quasi-boss is a managing partner,” said Kathleen Clark, a law professor who studies government ethics at Washington University in St. Louis, “because I wonder whether it affects Bloom’s ability to protect the public interest in his assessment of DeJoy’s performance as postmaster general.”
DeJoy’s personal spokesperson, Mark Corallo, referred questions to Adams of the Postal Service. He told The Post that DeJoy’s Brookfield bond purchases adhere to ethics regulations because the Postal Service does not do business with the firm.
Bloom in a statement released through Adams said his private equity division of the company sits “on the other side of an information wall” from other parts of the company that make investments, and that he had no knowledge of DeJoy’s purchases.
Brookfield’s private equity practice acquires and finances private corporations, among them a nuclear power infrastructure firm, Brazil’s largest private water company and an automotive battery manufacturer, according to its website. Brookfield has separate practices for public securities — which invest in publicly traded assets — real estate, infrastructure, renewable power and insurance solutions.
“I receive no benefit whatsoever when Brookfield bonds are bought or sold,” Bloom said in an email to The Post on Wednesday. “Brookfield has no business relationship with the USPS, therefore there is no basis for a conflict.”
This would be one thing if it was an isolated incident, but the guy has multiple ethics problems and conflicts of interest. It's far past time to pull the plug.
Let him go, Joe.