For at least the second time this year, a Trump administration official has hit trouble via Twitter—and in this case it’s not the president himself.
Nikki Haley, the Trump ambassador to the United Nations, is the subject of a complaint filed with the Office of Special Counsel by the nonprofit Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington claiming a violation of the Hatch Act.
Haley, whose Twitter account has 369,000 followers and is labeled with her job title, last week retweeted a President Trump comment on the June 20 House election to fill the seat of Trump Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. “Ralph Norman, who is running for Congress in SC’s 5th District, will be a fantastic help to me in cutting taxes,” Trump wrote to his 33 million followers on June 19. He added a second tweet in the string to say a Norman victory would also help with “getting greater border security and healthcare.”
Earlier this week, hackers released millions of records of people who had subscribed to the “Ashley Madison” web site, a meeting place for people seeking extra-marital affairs. Given that there were around 36 million individual accounts leaked, it is hardly surprising (and hardly newsworthy) to learn that some postal employees may have been members. What is surprising, and quite newsworthy, is that 52 of them apparently used their official @USPS.GOV email addresses to sign up for the site!
According to an analysis of individual email domains found in the Ashley Madison files, over 15,000 *.gov or *.mil government email addresses were registered. The majority appear to be from military (.mil) domains. The federal civilian agency with the most registrations is the Veteran’s Administration with 104, followed by the Bureau of Prisons with 88. Then comes the US Postal Service, with 52. That means the USPS beat out the Department of Homeland Security (45) and, cue drum roll: The White House! (44).
Reuters reports that the USPS is taking the news very seriously:
The U.S. Postal Service and its internal watchdog plan to review whether or not some of the agency’s employees may have violated federal policies by using their government email on the infidelity website Ashley Madison.
“We are looking into this matter and will follow our existing administrative process if misconduct is identified,” U.S. Postal Service spokesman Dave Partenheimer said in a statement.
BOISE – Tami Dee Bachart, 47, of McCall, Idaho, was sentenced yesterday to one year of probation for mailing injurious articles and causing a firearm to be present in a federal facility, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. As part of her sentence, Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ordered Bachart to serve 200 hours of community service, pay $3,397.28 in restitution and pay a $1,000 fine. Bachart pleaded guilty to the crimes on May 12, 2015.
According to the plea agreement, on December 2, 2014, Bachart deposited a package containing a handgun and ammunition into the mail at the United States Postal Service in McCall, Idaho. The package was addressed to a location in Windsor, Connecticut. The U.S. Postal Service transported the package for delivery. While in route to Connecticut, the package arrived at a processing and distribution center in Springfield, Massachusetts. When a U.S. Postal Service employee picked up the package for further distribution, the handgun, which was a loaded Ruger Blackhawk .357 revolver, discharged while in the hands of the employee. The employee was not seriously injured, but sought medical attention due to ringing ears and stinging hands. When the police officers opened the package, they discovered the loaded revolver with additional ammunition and other items. U.S. Postal Inspectors and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives contacted the intended recipient in Connecticut who confirmed Bachart mailed the package. A U.S. Postal Inspector and a Police Officer with McCall Police Department later interviewed Bachart who admitted to sending the package containing the revolver. Bachart denied knowing the firearm was loaded and stated she did not intend to hurt anyone.
During sentencing, Judge Winmill noted that Bachart did not intend to hurt anyone and made a mistake. However, he cautioned her about the tragic loss of life that could have occurred. Federal law prohibits the mailing of concealable firearms, except under limited circumstances as prescribed in the U.S. Postal Service regulations. Federal law also prohibits the mailing of ammunition.
This case was investigated by United States Postal Service Inspection Service in Boise, Idaho, Springfield, Massachusetts, and Windsor, Connecticut; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; McCall Police Department; and Springfield Police Department.
A man tried to rob a woman at a stamp kiosk inside the post office in Muhlenberg Township, Pa., mistakenly thinking that she was at an ATM machine withdrawing money. She told him she had no cash, only stamps. He pulled a knife, but fled when a postal worker intervened. The cops found him hiding in a dumpster at a nearby business.
After an NBC Bay Area investigation uncovered a policy that prevents most postal service employees from dialing 911 in an emergency, the union representing those employees has gotten involved.
The American Postal Workers union sent a letter to top postal service officials in Washington, DC, asking them to explain the rationale behind the policy that instruct employees “not to call 911 when a co-worker is in obvious need of medical care.”
In August, veteran postal service employee Sam Macasieb died at a postal processing center in West Oakland. His coworkers found him on the ground, bleeding from the mouth in urgent need of medical care. But instead of calling 911—they followed the protocol, which was to notify supervisors so they could call the on-site postal police officers and wait for them to notify 911.
It took up to 53 minutes between the time witnesses said they first saw Macasieb to the time the postal police called 911.
With the holiday rush, so many packages are ready to be shipped via the post office, UPS or Goin’ Postal – a new shipping center in Royal Oak. It just opened last Monday but that name – Goin’ Postal – is already causing controversy.
“There’s no positive way that I’ve really ever heard that term used,” says Roscoe Woods. He’s the president of the local American Postal Workers Union. He remembers that terrible day in 1991 when disgruntled former employee Tom McIlvane killed four people and wounded four more at the Royal Oak Post Office.
In today’s New York Times columnist Gail Collins weighs in on the continuing saga of Lance Armstrong, asking what the point of the whole fiasco was in the first place:
Let’s consider the U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team. Between 1996 and 2004, our American mail system invested an estimated $40 million in this venture, in return for which Armstrong and his teammates rode around with the Postal Service insignia on their shirts.
This would be the same Postal Service that lost $16 billion last year, and I believe I speak for every stamp-buyer in the nation when I say: What?
The Armstrong heyday was back in the era when the Postal Service, having been spun off into a quasi-private enterprise, was having delusions of corporate grandeur. The era when it lost $8.3 million in a failed attempt to start a retail operation in the Mall of America. Its leaders liked the idea that “they could rub shoulders with other C.E.O.’s who were sponsoring sports activities,” said Ruth Goldway, the chairwoman of the Postal Regulatory Commission.
Goldway was never a big fan of the postal service cycle team, although she felt it was a better marketing tool than some of the other ideas put into play, like “buying free tickets for postal employees to go to football games.” And, she said, she had some sympathy for Armstrong, “until I saw how he treated Sheryl Crow.”
The USPS has been running a TV commercial touting the safety and security of the US Mail, as compared to the dark and dangerous world of the Internet. Not surprisingly, Internet users don’t appear to be leaving the web in droves- a sampling of Twitter reactions follows the video. (Doesn’t anyone at the USPS see the irony in running ads like this one at the same time they’re telling Congress they don’t need all those post offices because people can buy stamps on the Internet using their credit card?)