All Eyes On Chao as Ethics Probe Swirls

Restore Public Trust Calls for Investigation into Chao for Financial Conflicts of Interest

WASHINGTON — A series of stories over the past week in national and local press have detailed Transportation Secretary Chao’s manipulation of government resources for self-gain, her husband’s political career, and for the financial profit of her family. Now, Congress is poised to launch an investigation into Chao over allegations she violated ethics laws.

“Secretary Chao appears to be the new Ryan Zinke and Congress must decide if she should go,” said Lizzy Price, spokesperson for Restore Public Trust. “Chao has used her tax-payer funded position to advance her priorities and those of her husband and her family. This kind of corruption is exactly what Americans hate, which is why there should be a Congressional investigation into Chao’s corruption.”

Chao used her position to boost her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s political career and promote her family business, the Foremost Group. She is also under scrutiny for financial conflicts of interest including failures to divest in companies that directly lobby the Transportation Department and for her involvement in the waves of consumer abuse scandals at Wells Fargo while she served as a board member.

Restore Public Trust called upon the Department of Transportation to open an investigation into Chao for having likely violated financial conflict-of-interest restrictions under federal law. Restore Public Trust also filed a lawsuit last week for the documents related to the Foremost Group that the department has thus far refused to provide since they were originally requested in December. See below for a roundup of coverage on Chao and her conflicts.

News Coverage


  • The New York Times: “A ‘Bridge’ to China, and Her Family’s Business, in the Trump Cabinet”
  • Politico: “Chao Created Special Path for McConnell’s Favored Projects”
  • The Wall Street Journal: “Transportation Secretary Still Owns Stock She Pledged to Divest”
  • The Hill: Progressive Group Requests Transportation Department Look Into Chao’s Potential Conflicts Of Interest
  • Louisville Courier-Journal: Critics: McConnell And Chao Using A Power (Couple) Play To Help His Reelection
  • CNN: “Elaine Chao Sold Stock In Companies After Report Raised Ethics Issue”
  • The Daily Beast: “Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Sells Vulcan Stock Following Ethical Concerns”
  • Vox: “Elaine Chao and Mitch McConnell’s Potential Conflict Of Interest, Explained”
  • “NJ Loses Out As Trump Insiders Play Favorites? Congresswoman Calls Out Tunnel Funding Fail”
  • Slate: “The Nepotism Might Finally Too Much To Ignore”
  • Washington Times: “Rep. Sean Maloney To Probe Reports Elaine Chao Uses Cabinet Post To Benefit Family”
  • Talking Points Memo: “McConnell Brushes Off Reports Of Wife’s Favoritism”
  • New York Daily News: “The Kentucky Carveout: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s Takes For ‘Granted’ A Conflict Of Interest With Her Senate Majority Leader Husband”
  • Washington Examiner: “Department Of Transportation Sued For Documents Related To Elaine Chao”
  • Politico: “Chao Gives McConnell A Helping Hand In Kentucky”
  • The Hill: “Group Sues For Docs On Elaine Chao’s Communications With Family Company”
  • WBUR: “Reporting Raises Questions About Washington’s Potential Political Conflicts Of Interest”
  • Politico: “McConnell Shrugs Off Questions About Preferential Treatment By Chao”
  • The New Republic: “Corruption Is The Tie That Binds For Trump-Era Republicans”










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