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Stefanik campaign seeks probe of nearly $20k in missing mail contributions

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik speaks at a Saranac Lake Republican rally in Riverside Park on Saturday, Oct. 22. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)

Nearly $20,000 in checks for campaign contributions to U.S. Rep. Elise, R-Schuylerville, went missing in the mail in what the Stefanik campaign says was “a targeted theft.”

Lawyers for the Stefanik campaign have asked Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to investigate.

“Given the systemic nature of this serious problem, Congresswoman Stefanik and Elise for Congress feel compelled to elevate this issue to you,” Michael Toner and Brandis Zehr of the law from Wiley Rein wrote to LeJoy on Thursday. “Our clients hereby demand that USPS provide the following information in writing by close of business December 8, 2022: (1) a list of all concrete actions taken by USPS to investigate these thefts; (2) the particular steps that USPS will take to ensure that Elise for Congress will not be the victim of mail theft in the future; and (3) a list of the actions that USPS will take to more effectively prevent, detect and prosecute mail theft both in New York’s 21st Congressional District and nationwide.”

The thefts, which Stefanik’s campaign announced Friday, occurred on four occasions in June and November.

Envelopes of checks mailed from Stefanik’s campaign office at Glens Falls to the campaign treasurer in Washington were received ripped open and damaged, with the checks missing.

Letters from the U.S. Postal Service confirmed the “theft” of contents, Alex DeGrasse, a senior adviser to Stefanik, said Saturday.

“Their words, not ours,” he said.

“This mail theft resulted in the loss of nearly $20,000 in campaign contributions but also — and more alarmingly — has exposed hundreds of Congresswoman Stefanik’s campaign supporters to potential identity theft or financial fraud,” the Stefanik campaign said in a news release.

DeGrasse said that “hundreds” of donors were affected.

As far as the campaign knows, no one has attempted to cash any of the missing checks, he said.

The U.S. Postal Service recovered the opened, damaged packages in Memphis, according to the campaign lawyers, who wrote that the Stefanik campaign is disappointed with actions taken so far to address the situation.

“Although the USPS Office of the Inspector General is investigating the mail theft, they indicated it would be difficult to identify the USPS employees or contractors who perpetrated these crimes unless and until one or more of Elise for Congress’s supporters becomes the victim of identity theft or financial fraud,” the lawyers wrote.

The lawyers wrote that postal investigators promised months ago to provide a report of the June theft, but have not done so: “It is unacceptable that USPS has repeatedly allowed these targeted thefts to occur and cannot identify who committed the thefts, let alone where or how the thefts occurred.”

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