Gov. Kim Reynolds blocks AG Tom Miller from joining Postal Service lawsuit
Gov. Kim Reynolds has denied a request from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller to join a multistate lawsuit seeking to block service changes at the U.S. Postal Service, Miller said Tuesday.
A group of at least 20 Democratic state attorneys general has signed onto the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday, citing policy changes that include limiting worker overtime and late or extra shifts in the lawsuit announcement.
In his statement, Miller said he's concerned about the changes at the agency but that Reynolds did not allow him to join the suit.
Miller, a Democrat, and Reynolds, a Republican, struck an agreement in 2019 requiring Miller to ask Reynolds for permission before joining multistate lawsuits. Reynolds, in turn, agreed to veto legislation that would have permanently restricted the attorney general's power to join such cases.
Miller's agreement with Reynolds does not bind future attorneys general, and Miller said at the time that he wanted to preserve the powers of the office. Iowa is the only state in the country whose attorney general faces such a restriction.
"As per my agreement with Gov. Kim Reynolds, I requested to join a lawsuit challenging changes at the U.S. Postal Service. The governor did not consent," Miller said in a statement Tuesday. "I’m very concerned about service and policy changes at the Post Office. Reports from the American Postal Workers Union indicate that mail delivery in Iowa has been slowed by limits on staff overtime and removal of automatic sorting machines."
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A spokesperson for Reynolds did not immediately provide a comment.
The head of Des Moines’ postal workers’ union said Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s cost-cutting mandates were slowing mail delivery in central Iowa. It’s a charge that’s been levied across the country and spurred House Democrats to call DeJoy and U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors Chair Robert Duncan to testify before the House Oversight Committee next week.
President Donald Trump appointed DeJoy, a Republican, in June.
Federal law requires the Postal Service to go through specific procedures before making changes that affect nationwide service, including a review by the Postal Regulatory Commission and a public comment period. DeJoy did not follow those procedures, the attorneys general said.
On Tuesday, DeJoy released a statement saying he believes "significant reforms are essential" to increasing the long-term sustainability of the Postal Service, but work would restart after the election. He said he will also suspend some "longstanding operational initiatives" that were in place before he arrived to alleviate concerns.
"To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded," DeJoy said in the statement.
Workers say the changes DeJoy had put in place delay delivery by resulting in mail not being loaded on trucks in time, or incomplete routes at day's end. Last week, the Postal Service sent a warning to 46 states, including Iowa, that it may lack the capacity to ensure mailed-in ballots are received by election day.
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, a Democrat who represents Iowa's 3rd Congressional District, called for DeJoy's resignation on Tuesday because of the slowdowns, saying they are "growing proof that these delays are being done intentionally to deny citizens their right to safely vote this fall."
Des Moines Register reporter Nick Coltrain contributed to this article.
Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.
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