When Obama postmaster closed facilities during 2012 election, Democrats sang different tune

Republicans say Democrats 'have this conspiracy theory' in 2020 that they didn't support during the 2012 postal cutbacks, creating a double standard.

Updated: August 26, 2020 - 4:58pm

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After the discredited cries of Russia collusion and Ukrainian aid interference, Democrats in Washington have sounded a new alarm that President Trump and his new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy may be trying to thwart mail-in balloting in the November election by cutting costs at the postal service.

DeJoy has assured lawmakers he has delayed his reform plans until after the election to ensure voters aren't impacted. But Democrats have continued to harp on the idea that Trump is engaged in a conspiracy to suppress ballots.

"What you are witnessing is a president of the United States who is doing everything he can to suppress the vote, make it harder for people to engage in mail-in balloting at a time when people will be putting their lives on the line by having to go out to a polling station and vote," Sen. Bernie Sanders told NBC's Meet the Press earlier this month. "This is a crisis for American democracy. We have got to act and act now."

Interestingly enough, Sanders saw no similar conspiracy in 2012 when President Barack Obama's Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe proposed closing as many as 223 mail processing facilities and eliminating thousands of postal jobs.

To be fair, Sanders and 26 of his Senate Democratic colleagues strongly opposed Donahue's cutbacks, asking for a delay and congressional oversight. But in their letter, they didn't once mention concerns about mail ballots or elections, instead focusing on lost jobs for unionized postal workers and inconvenience for rural customers.

"If this plan is implemented, it will have a devastating impact on rural America, small businesses, veterans, the elderly, and our entire economy," Sanders and his Democratic Senate colleagues wrote.

Some local and state officials were raising concerns about the postal cutbacks on 2012 mail-in ballots including California's Democratic Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Ohio's Republican Secretary of State John Husted.

"While I certainly sympathize with the financial challenges faced by the USPS ... pre-election USPS closures would have a devastating impact on democracy," Bowen wrote in a Feb. 22, 2012 letter to Donahoe.

Husted added in his own letter, "Drastic changes and how Mail is processed could have unintended consequences, specifically when it comes to how Ohio voters' absentee ballots are handled.”

Some Democrats supported the state officials, and the Postal Service's Donahoe proceeded with a series of closings between May and August 2012 before suspending any other changes in September of that year to assuage concerns about impacts on that election, in which Obama won a second term.

But Democrats never accused Obama or his postmaster of conspiring to suppress mail ballots or intentionally disenfranchise voters like they have accused Trump of doing.

Some Republicans have noted the difference in Democrats' tone between 2012 and 2020 to suggest gotcha politics, more than election security, may be at play.

"They've got this conspiracy theory," Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), a fiscal conservative, told Just the News on Tuesday during an interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast. "… Somehow taking these sorting machines out of the buildings was some kind of part of a vast conspiracy. So I read ... during my five minutes and submitted for the record two press releases from 2012, when Obama and Biden were running the country and when there was an election to reelect the president.

"They shut down nine sorting facilities in the state of Kentucky, including one in Lexington. That's our second biggest city in Kentucky. And I read the statement from the Postmaster General at the time, and basically asked the chairman of the post office there, Mike Duncan, 'Is this, was this part of some vast conspiracy?' And of course it wasn't."