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Controversial postmaster general's family foundation has cut large checks to Duke, tax documents show

<p>Donations to Duke by the Louis DeJoy and Aldona Z. Wos Family Foundation between 2007 and 2018, according tax documents. The donations were made out to an address used by the Iron Dukes.&nbsp;</p>

Donations to Duke by the Louis DeJoy and Aldona Z. Wos Family Foundation between 2007 and 2018, according tax documents. The donations were made out to an address used by the Iron Dukes. 

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has faced national scrutiny as an election approaches in which a record number of Americans can vote by mail. Meanwhile, his family’s foundation is a familiar name on Duke’s donor list.

According to the Louis DeJoy and Aldona Z. Wos Family Foundation website, the foundation has donated to Duke since 2007. Donations listed on the foundation’s Form 990-PFs, public tax documents that private foundations are required to file, amounted to a total of $3,078,814 between 2007 and 2018.

Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. The foundation did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

According to the website, the foundation’s contributions funded the creation of the Blue Devil Tower, a 110,000-square-foot facility that contains the DeJoy Family Club, which includes premium patron seating and a training table for Duke student athletes.

Beginning in June 2018, the family made a five-year pledge to support Duke’s School of Law, according to the website. The site also lists support to the Iron Dukes Annual Fund, a network of giving societies.

The address given for the donations listed on the tax forms is 116 Cameron Indoor Stadium, which has been listed online in the past for the Iron Dukes fund.

Art Chase, senior associate director of athletics, declined to comment on the donations

Beginning this year, they entered into a three-year pledge to support the American Grand Strategy Program, a political science program that hosts experts in American foreign policy, according to the website.

Andrew Park, executive director of communications and events for the School of Law, and AGS Program Coordinator Melanie Benson directed The Chronicle to Schoenfeld.

In 2014, tax filings show a contribution of $737,823 to Duke. In November of that year, then-first-year Andrew DeJoy—DeJoy’s son—walked on to the men’s tennis team, as reported by the Associated Press.

Andrew DeJoy spoke about joining the team in an interview published in 2015 on a Duke Athletics website.

“I have had an interesting road here,” he said. “I wasn't on the team for the first two months of school, and all of a sudden I was in it at essentially 100 percent.”

From 2014 to 2018, the donation to Duke was the largest contribution listed on the Form 990-PF, copies of which were posted online by ProPublica. In 2014, the donation to the stadium was more than three times as large as the foundation’s next largest contribution, which was to St. Pius X Catholic church in Greensboro. 

Prior to 2014, the tax documents show donations of relatively small sums $26,084 in 2012, for instance, and $60,523 in 2013.

But starting with the $737,823 donation in 2014, the foundation began contributing hundreds of thousands to Duke.

In 2015, they donated $462,823. In 2016, it was $573,546. In 2017, the foundation contributed $560,323, and in 2018, they donated $508,123. The most recent Form 990-PF provided on ProPublica is from 2018.

DeJoy’s donations come to light as the recently appointed postmaster general faces public scrutiny over his tenure, both in private industry and as the head of the United States Postal Service.

Shortly after taking office, DeJoy changed several policies within the organization, including removing employee overtime and removing mail-sorting machines from offices across the country. While DeJoy and congressional Republicans defended the move as a necessary cost-cutting measure for an agency facing major budget shortfalls, the new policies were blamed for delays and mail backlogs. The moves also generated nationwide concern as millions of Americans cast their votes by mail.

Under pressure, DeJoy postponed some changes to the USPS until after the election. He testified before the Senate Aug. 21, where Democrats pressed DeJoy, a major donor to President Donald Trump, on whether his policies upheld Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting. In his testimony, DeJoy emphasized that he was “not engaged in sabotaging the election” and would ensure ballots were delivered on time, while criticizing what he called a “false narrative” Democrats promoted about his policies and intentions.

Dejoy faced renewed scrutiny after The Washington Post reported that former employees alleged that during his tenure as CEO of the North Carolina-based New Breed Logistics, he and his aides had pressured employees to donate to Republican candidates, including current North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Thillis, before reimbursing them with company expenses. According to the Post, reimbursing employees for political contributions violates North Carolina and federal election laws.

Additionally, DeJoy’s direct stakes in logistics companies that would profit from the USPS’s privatization, including New Breed, have led to calls for his resignation.

Correction: An earlier version of this article and the caption for the accompanying graphic incorrectly stated that donations shown on public tax documents were made to Cameron Indoor Stadium. They has been updated to reflect that those donations were made out to Duke, with an address in Cameron that has been used by the Iron Dukes Annual Fund. The Chronicle regrets the error. 

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