This story is available exclusively to Business Insider subscribers.
Become an Insider and start reading now.
- Louis DeJoy, President Trump’s controversial new US postmaster general, has raised millions for Republican politicians and political candidates in his home state of North Carolina along with his wife, Aldona Wos, Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Canada.
- About $1.6 million in donations — about half of what the power couple have given in their lifetimes — have come since Trump became president. Over that time, their own political fortunes have risen considerably.
- During the 2016 election, DeJoy and Wos together gave the Republican National Committee more than $250,000. They spent a total of $550,000 on federal elections during the 2016 cycle.
- Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have been at the same event as DeJoy at least 10 times since 2016, including private fundraisers and giant public rallies. Since their election, Trump and Pence have each separately visited North Carolina specifically to attend high-dollar fundraisers at DeJoy and Wos’ Greensboro mansion.
- Over the years, the couple has raised big money for George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Trump. They also backed other presidential candidates, including Jeb Bush early on in the 2016 race and Rudy Giuliani in 2008.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
An Insider analysis of the man at the center of controversy over how the US Postal Service is handling mail-in voting during the 2020 presidential election shows Louis DeJoy and his wife, Aldona Wos, are as engrossed in Trump world as anyone can get.
The Trump era has been good for DeJoy, a retired trucking executive, and his wife, whom the president nominated in February to be the US ambassador to Canada. In all, Insider counted at least 10 instances where the couple were either awarded plum assignments or had their names floated for high-profile positions during the Trump administration.
Trump and Pence have been in North Carolina alongside DeJoy and Wos at least nine times dating back to the 2016 presidential campaign. Many instances have often passed without any notice or simply as an off-hand reference because of the president’s involvement.
Put all the pieces together, however, and a different picture emerges.
The couple have hosted Trump and Pence for fundraisers at their mansion in Greensboro, North Carolina, before and after the 2016 election. That includes an event on Trump’s 70th birthday less than five months before he’d go on to win the White House. Combined, they spent over half a million dollars in the 2016 cycle alone on races at the federal level. And nearly half of their lifetime federal-level contributions — a staggering $1.6 million — have come since Trump became president in 2017.
“He’s not a politician, but he might as well be one,” Trump said of DeJoy at a Charlotte, North Carolina, rally in early March, his last before the nationwide coronavirus lockdowns began. “He loves us, he loves this party, and he loves your state, lives here, Louis DeJoy, one of the most successful people.”
Here is the definitive story of how DeJoy went from a powerful but low-key North Carolina donor to the man at the center of Trump’s latest controversy.
2001 to 2008: The Bush years
The Trump administration isn’t DeJoy and Wos’ first rodeo. The power couple had a strong relationship with President George W. Bush as megafundraisers and members of his administration.
At the time, Wos took a starring role in their political work. She was a rainmaker for her home state Sen. Elizabeth Dole in 2002, and in 2004 the Bush campaign chose her as its vice chairwoman of North Carolina fundraising. She pulled in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the president.
Ahead of the 2004 presidential race, DeJoy and Wos together spread about $200,000 among several dozen Republican congressional candidates and party committees. Of that, tens of thousands went to the Republican National Committee, and $6,000 went to Bush’s reelection campaign.
Separately, DeJoy and Wos each contributed $100,000 to North Carolina’s Salute to George W. Bush Committee — a joint fundraising committee that raised cash for the state Republican Party and two congressional candidates. The assistant treasurer of that committee, Earl Allen Haywood, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for mail fraud.
In June 2004, Bush appointed Wos, a Polish immigrant, as the US ambassador to Estonia.
Their work wasn’t done after Bush had been reelected for a second term. In October 2006, a few weeks before midterm elections that the Democrats would sweep to win control of both the House and the Senate, DeJoy and Wos hosted a $900,000 fundraiser for Bush at their mansion in North Carolina, The Associated Press reported.
Before leaving office, Bush gave the family one more appointment by naming DeJoy to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships in 2008.
2007: Rooting for Rudy
In 2007, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani tapped the prominent North Carolina executive Jim Culbertson and DeJoy to cochair his presidential campaign’s fundraising effort in the Tar Heel State.
DeJoy and Wos each contributed $4,600 to Giuliani’s Republican primary and general-election efforts in 2007.
Supporting a Big Apple Republican was a departure from DeJoy’s political roots: While living in New York during the 1980s, DeJoy backed liberals. Among his donations to Democrats were Walter Mondale’s ’84 presidential campaign, Michael Dukakis’ ’88 presidential campaign, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Though Giuliani didn’t win the Republican nomination that year, he did well among North Carolina business leaders. In the region around Greensboro and Winston-Salem, where DeJoy and Culbertson lived, they donated to Giuliani more than any other candidate, according to the Triad Business Journal.
Giuliani dropped out in January 2008 after a rocky performance in the primaries, ultimately setting the stage for Sen. John McCain to claim the nomination. And DeJoy was ready to welcome him with open arms.
2008: Supporting McCain and Palin
Despite DeJoy’s support for a rival in the primary, McCain’s team tapped DeJoy as the campaign’s North Carolina finance chair in 2008. The businessman leaned into the role, hosting fundraisers for both McCain and his vice-presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, during the 2008 general election.
When the candidate’s famous “Straight Talk Express” swung through North Carolina in May 2008, McCain stopped at DeJoy’s house for a fundraiser. In October, Palin visited for another lavish event at the DeJoy’s palatial home for a private fundraiser.
DeJoy and Wos didn’t just throw parties, they gave McCain significant financial support, contributing thousands of dollars to his presidential-campaign committee and separate legal-compliance fund.
They spread tens of thousands of dollars more among the Republican National Committee and several state GOP committees, and DeJoy made his first contribution to Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — $1,000 — who now serves as Senate majority leader.
In all, DeJoy and Wos contributed just short of $200,000 during the 2008 election cycle to various federal political committees.
2012: DeJoy cochairs a Romney fundraiser
A Republican loss in 2008 didn’t dampen DeJoy and Wos’ involvement in presidential politics.
With Sen. Mitt Romney challenging President Barack Obama in 2012, the couple contributed about $150,000 that cycle to federal political committees and candidates. They each gave $5,000 to Romney, but most of their donations — $123,000 — went to the RNC.
They cochaired a Greensboro fundraiser featuring the candidate’s wife, Ann Romney, where an exclusive luncheon cost attendees $2,500 a plate, The News & Observer reported.
Wos and DeJoy didn’t limit their fundraising efforts to the presidential level, though. They also threw a September fundraiser for North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory that drew Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in a supporting role.
In December of that year, McCrory appointed Wos as his secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services.
2015: DeJoy backs Jeb Bush
DeJoy is now known as a prominent Trump donor, but he supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at the outset of the 2016 race.
In October 2015, Bush named DeJoy on a list of “bundlers” who helped raise at least $17,600 for his 2016 campaign.
DeJoy also personally pumped money into Bush’s presidential campaign, contributing $25,000 to the pro-Bush Right to Rise super PAC. DeJoy and Wos each gave Bush’s primary-campaign committee a maxed-out $2,700 contribution.
Bush and his fellow Republican candidates couldn’t catch Trump, who started to pull away from a crowded pack of rivals early on and became only more dominant as the primary season began. Bush dropped out on February 20, 2016, after the South Carolina primary.
DeJoy found a new horse to back.
2016: DeJoy goes all in on Trump, holding fundraisers and donating over half a million to Republicans
After Bush dropped out, the couple swung their considerable support to Trump. DeJoy would make his first contribution — the legal maximum of $2,700 — to Trump’s general-election campaign in August 2016.
DeJoy and Wos together gave the Trump-supporting Republican National Committee, which can legally accept exponentially more money that a candidate committee, more than $250,000.
In all, DeJoy and Wos spent about $550,000 on federal elections during the 2016 election cycle.
The Trump campaign anointed DeJoy its state victory finance chairman for North Carolina, a role that required him to gather donations from wealthy conservatives and host lavish fundraisers at his home.
On June 14, 2016 — Trump’s 70th birthday — DeJoy and Wos held a fundraiser for the candidate at their home before a Greensboro rally. It was the first of several times that they would host the president.
In late September, DeJoy attended a private fundraiser with vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence at North Carolina’s famous Pinehurst golf resort.
“We raised a good amount of money,” DeJoy told The Pilot, estimating he’d been to 20 such events so far. “We were pleased. It was very successful. At every stop we make in North Carolina, we have been very pleased. We have large crowds and great support.”
DeJoy predicted Trump would “carry North Carolina” in November. He did — and the Electoral College too.
2017: An inauguration patron and fundraising host
After Trump’s shocking victory in the 2016 election, DeJoy continued to embrace the president and raise enormous sums of money on his behalf, becoming his de-facto point man in the Tar Heel State. And through the ensuing years, he and his wife found themselves considered for several administration roles.
When Trump swung through North Carolina in December 2016 for a “thank-you” rally, DeJoy emailed supporters to note a change in venue, The News & Observer reported.
Trump named DeJoy to the presidential inauguration committee that winter; DeJoy had donated $100,000 for the event.
As Trump took the oath of office on January 20, 2017, DeJoy was seated behind him on the platform, a few rows behind former presidents and vice presidents and surrounded by billionaires and future cabinet officials.
In May 2017, Trump named Wos a vice chair of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships — a role her husband had held during the Bush administration.
That October, the president returned to North Carolina for the first time since taking the oath of office for a fundraiser at DeJoy and Wos’ home that started at $15,000 per couple, though donation tiers soared as high as $100,000.
DeJoy sent out invites that acknowledged some of the early turbulence in the White House. “The president and his team have had some missteps,” he wrote, according to The News & Observer.
“However, it is hard to deny the extreme and unreasonable challenges he faces from the political establishment, the left wing groups, the media and many of the federal employees of the agencies of the Executive branch,” DeJoy added.
2017: Since Trump’s election, DeJoy and Wos have spent over $1.6 million
Almost half of the federal-level political contributions DeJoy and Vos have made in their lives — about $1.6 million — have come since Trump became president. They donated thousands to Trump’s 2020 reelection effort in mid-2017.
In 2019, DeJoy also sent $5,000 to the Great America Committee, a so-called leadership political action committee led by Pence.
DeJoy and Wos together have sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to the RNC and tens of thousands of dollars more to the National Republican Senatorial Committee during Trump’s presidency.
They’ve also made maximum contributions to the campaigns of Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, Martha McSally of Arizona, and McConnell.
Furthermore, DeJoy and Wos are major donors to a committee called Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee that divides large contributions among the Trump campaign, Republican National Committee, and 22 state-level GOP committees.
2018: DeJoy is floated for key political appointments
While Wos to this point had been the government powerhouse of the couple, with an ambassadorship and a stint running North Carolina’s HHS under her belt, DeJoy’s political opportunities began to take flight in 2018.
The Republican Party shortlisted DeJoy to take over as the RNC’s finance chair after the hotel magnate Steve Wynn resigned over accusations of sexual misconduct against his employees. The role ultimately went to Chicago Cubs co-owner and Trump confidant Todd Ricketts.
On April 14, Trump nominated DeJoy to the board of directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC) for the first time. The nomination ultimately lapsed and expired with the end of that congressional session.
Just a few days later, on April 21, DeJoy joined other North Carolina business leaders for a private meeting with Pence in Greensboro, The High Point Enterprise reported.
2019: More fundraising, some Trump rallies, and another stab at OPIC
2019 was a big year for DeJoy, and one where major appointments or nominations for him and his wife closely followed major fundraising events.
On January 16, 2019, Trump once again nominated him to OPIC after his previous nomination expired. The nomination was withdrawn that June, but another gig was soon coming DeJoy’s way.
On May 22, 2019, the Republican National Convention’s host committee named DeJoy the finance chairman for the Charlotte confab that was scheduled to take place this summer. That same day, DeJoy hosted an RNC kickoff fundraiser at his Greensboro home that featured North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and Pence, who traveled to the state specifically for the fundraiser.
In June 2019, Bloomberg News reported that Trump was considering Wos for the US ambassador post to Canada, a high-profile job with one of America’s most important allies. She’d eventually get the nomination in February, though the US Senate has not yet confirmed her.
In September, Trump returned to North Carolina for a rally in Fayetteville, where he publicly recognized DeJoy as a “friend of mine who has been with us from the beginning” and called him “one of the most successful people.”
2020: DeJoy is appointed postmaster general, and Wos is nominated for Canadian ambassador
The years of hosting and handshaking truly paid off for DeJoy and Wos in 2020, when they got even closer within the Trump orbit than ever before.
On February 7, Trump visited North Carolina for a speech, and DeJoy, who attended it, got another shoutout.
“Louis is around someplace. Where is Louis? Louis DeJoy. Thank you very much,” Trump said.
Four days later, reports of Wos’ impending ambassadorship became reality. Trump officially nominated her as his top envoy to Canada on February 11. Two days later, Wos attended a billionaire-hosted fundraiser in Palm Beach, Florida, where tickets for couples cost nearly $600,000.
DeJoy also got name-checked at what turned out to be Trump’s final rally before the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the country and rendered such gatherings unsafe.
“And a few great friends of mine, and they love North Carolina,” Trump told the crowd on March 2 in Charlotte. “Louis DeJoy, who you know. Louis DeJoy.”
Once the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, Trump appointed DeJoy to his committee to reopen the economy, along with several other megadonors. But that wasn’t the last job that Trump had in mind for his friend.
May 2020: DeJoy is appointed US postmaster general, setting off a partisan firestorm
On May 6, the Trump administration announced that DeJoy had been elected to lead the USPS after a unanimous vote from its board of governors.
DeJoy does have experience working with USPS and the country’s mail system: It was his shipping company’s multibillion-dollar contract with the Postal Service that brought him from New York to North Carolina in the early 1990s, and he served as a president at the supply-chain giant XPO Logistics until 2016.
But critics and Democrats seized upon Trump’s appointment of a longtime donor and fundraiser to head the federal agency tasked with efficiently delivering mail-in ballots in November.
Trump has relentlessly, and baselessly, attacked mail-in voting as rife for fraud and interference, despite the fact that he plans to vote in Florida via absentee ballot. He has resisted efforts to infuse USPS with enough cash to allow it to deliver ballots efficiently by various state deadlines.
Trump’s rhetoric is part of an effort to cast aspersions on the election as he faces a double-digit polling deficit against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and it precedes a November vote that could take days, if not weeks, to count because of the unusual number of people voting by mail.
As a result, both chambers of Congress have hauled DeJoy in for questioning about USPS and the election. He testified Friday before the Senate and on Monday appeared before the House Oversight Committee.