U.S. Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-7) and Bill Pascrell (D-7) are calling for U.S. Postal Service reforms, in particular targeting Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, after being denied access to the processing facility in Kearny this morning.
“I was here two years ago, and I did a review: everything was perfect. Now why is that not a violation of the Hatch Act, but [Postmaster General Louis] DeJoy says this is a violation of the Hatch Act? It doesn’t make any sense,” Pascrell told a man who was working as security at the building, located as 1200 Harrison Ave.
The two federal representatives hosted a press conference across the street from the facility this morning, asking why they weren’t allowed inside any postal buildings prior to the November 3rd general election – which will be contested primarily via vote-by-mail ballots.
The USPS has said that since Pascrell’s visit in 2018, a new policy has been added disqualifying members of Congress who are on the ballot from entering the facilities within 45 days of an election.
Nevertheless, that explanation doesn’t sit will with Pascrell, who called it “a disgrace” and “completely illegal” to not allow tours or inspections.
“This isn’t Area 51 – our congressional delegation must have access to see if USPS can handle the millions of ballots being cast this election. And New Jerseyans have a right to know if their votes are secure. This isn’t politics: it’s about protecting our democracy from Trump and DeJoy’s arson,” he exclaimed.
Pascrell also led the charge in having the New Jersey congressional delegation pen a letter to DeJoy on September 30th demanding an emergency visit to the Kearny USPS facility, also known as the Dominic V. Daniels Processing and Distribution Center.
Additionally, Malinowski pointed out that the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said that it is permissible for representatives for visit USPS facilities as long as they are their to provide oversight in the best interests of their constituents.
“For months we have been blocked from doing our job to ensure that the USPS is ready for this election. Today’s continued refusal is unacceptable, and Postmaster General DeJoy must be held accountable for his repeated attempts to disrupt mail-in-voting,” he added.
Furthermore, both elected leaders were in agreement that this would have been a timely instance to do an inspection in light of mail being discarded and/or trashed in North Arlington, Belleville, and Paterson since April.
Earlier this month, a postal worked from Kearny was arrested for dumping around 1,875 pieces of mail, including 99 VBM ballots, that were intended for West Orange residents.
Pascrell and Malinowski were briefly allowed inside the entrance of the building to speak with management staff at the postal center, but they were still ultimately denied from taking a tour.
USPS spokesman for the northeast region George Flood cited the ethics guidance in the Hatch act that was updated two years ago, though said that doesn’t apply to congressional staff, further stating that virtual options are still available.
“We are happy to engage with any members directly to address the concerns they have in lieu of a tour during this 45 day period and routinely hold field level congressional briefings with congressional staff,” Flood explained, also noting that a Zoom meeting was held as recently as September 17th for northern New Jersey congressional offices.
While U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) couldn’t make it this morning, he voiced his support for the endeavor in a statement.
“Ahead of the November election, when a record number of ballots are set to be sent by mail, it is crucial we ensure the integrity and ability of the postal service to faithfully and securely transfer these ballots,” he said.
“Our congressional delegation should be granted access to the facility so we can be certain that the ballots of New Jerseyan’s are being processed correctly.”
Pascrell, Sires, and U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11) called for a federal probe into the mail abandoned throughout North Jersey shortly after the aforementioned Kearny postal worker had been charged.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from USPS spokesman for the northeast region George Flood.