FEBRUARY 23, 2009
Amid a dire financial crisis at the U.S. Postal Service that may lead to unprecedented layoffs and cuts in mail delivery, the Postmaster General received a six-figure bonus and his salary nearly doubled.
Not surprisingly, Postmaster General John Potter failed to mention it when he grimly reported that the independent federal agency he heads experienced a loss of nearly $3 billion in the last fiscal year and that thousands of workers may lose their jobs. It would mark the first-ever layoffs of career employees at the agency.
The crisis has not negatively affected Potter’s bank account, however. A Washington newspaper reports that the Postmaster General’s salary increased from $186,000 in 2007 to $265,000 last year and that he got a sweet “performance bonus” of $135,000. That brings the total of his taxpayer-financed compensation—salary, bonuses, retirement benefits and other perks—to more than $800,000.
Just last month Potter, who has been Postmaster General since 2001, told Congress that deficits could force the post office to eliminate one day of mail delivery per week. Detailing a worsening finanical crisis, he informed members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that “if current trends continue, we could experience a net loss of $6 billion or more this fiscal year."
The testimony came just a few weeks after Potter got his lucrative salary perks, which have subsequently caused outrage among several lawmakers. A congressional subcommittee will take up the issue at a hearing scheduled for late March, but it’s unlikely any action will be taken.
Federal rules mandate that the postmaster’s salary cannot be more than 20% above the salary of the nation’s vice president. However, the board of governors that oversees the agency can pay additional money as long as it’s deferred until later years.
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