December 16, 2020 – The U.S. Postal Service released Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s calendars Tuesday in response to an American Oversight Freedom of Information Act suit. But almost every meaningful bit of information or content in the calendars was redacted.
USPS initially rebuffed American Oversight’s request for DeJoy’s calendars by claiming they were personal rather than agency documents, despite the fact that the records are maintained on government computers — and that such calendars of public officials are routinely released in response to FOIA requests. In September, American Oversight sued, and the next month USPS agreed to produce the records.
The calendars cover mid-June 2020 through just after the general election. During that period, the Postal Service was struggling to adjust to the pandemic-related crush of mail and facing questions about whether decisions by DeJoy that reduced USPS capacity were motivated by President Donald Trump’s attempts to undermine voting by mail.
However, USPS redacted nearly all details about the hundreds of meetings, which could provide important information on whom DeJoy met with and what was behind certain agency actions during that time. The accompanying letter from USPS notes that some material was redacted under certain exemptions, but the records do not specify which exemptions the agency claims apply to which redactions — as is required by law. American Oversight intends to mount a legal challenge to these excessive redactions.
The calendar for Nov. 3, 2020, the day of the election, is a good example of just how heavy-handed USPS was with its redactions. Practically everything other than the general timeline of meetings — including any potential hints about whom those meetings were with and what they covered — is blacked out.
“Shrouding his calendar in secrecy likely violates the letter of the law, and certainly violates its spirit,” said American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers. “DeJoy works for the public, but you wouldn’t know it from his calendar. Even in the Trump era, this is an extraordinary level of obfuscation.”
DeJoy’s calendars have also been on the radar of watchdogs on Capitol Hill. In an August hearing of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questioned DeJoy about the secrecy surrounding his calendars, and the committee later issued a subpoena for the records.
American Oversight sought DeJoy’s calendar as part of a larger investigation into potential political interference at USPS and will continue to shed light on the agency’s operations at a time of national crisis.
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