The postmaster of Portland, Maine, is reportedly facing accusations that he prioritized Amazon packages while first-class and priority mail were being intentionally delayed.
A complaint lodged with the Office of Inspector General accuses Postmaster James Thornton of delaying the mail by instructing clerks to sort Amazon packages first, according to a report from the Portland Press Herald. “Thornton is willfully delaying thousands of first-class and priority parcels so that fourth-class Amazon parcels can go out for delivery instead,” the complaint reads.
The postal area under Thornton’s oversight includes 80,000 to 100,000 households.
The accusation comes as the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service faces perhaps the biggest existential and financial crisis of its existence. The agency warned earlier this year that it could run out of cash by September. President Donald Trump balked at an emergency $10 billion loan, calling the agency a “joke” that essentially serves Amazon.
“The Postal Service is a joke because they’re handing out packages for Amazon and other internet companies, and every time they put out a package, they lose money on it,” Trump said.
The president has long been a critic of the U.S. Postal Service’s relationship with the Jeff Bezos-owned Amazon. “Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer?” the commander in chief tweeted in 2017.
Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017
In June, Congress stepped in to approve an emergency $10 billion loan to the U.S. Postal Service from the Treasury Department. Still, the agency remains in precarious financial condition, losing billions of dollars a year.
Letter carriers in Portland, Maine, told the Press Herald that the postmaster tended to prioritize Amazon packages on Mondays, which are the heaviest days for delivery.
A spokesman for the postal service provided a statement to the newspaper that failed to address the accusations.
“In our current environment, dealing with the health crisis and a surge in package volumes due to online shopping, both our delivery offices and mail processing facilities find themselves flexing resources daily and around the clock to continue to meet the changing needs of our customers,” said Steve Doherty, a Northeast region spokesman for the postal service.