WASHINGTON – The House Oversight committee is beginning to investigate Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for potential ethics violations. Chief among the committee’s concerns is Chao’s use of her office to help lift up her family’s shipping company, the Foremost Group.
“The evidence is clear — Secretary Chao has misused her public office to bolster her family’s company, and that demands an investigation,” said Lizzy Price, director of Public Trust. “But that’s not all she’s done. From using her position to elevate her family’s company to funneling Department of Transportation grant money to Kentucky to help her husband’s reelection, Chao has set a pattern of blatantly misusing her office on the taxpayer’s dollar.
“The House Oversight committee owes it to the American people to dive even deeper into Chao’s actions and determine the full extent of her corruption as transportation secretary.”
In its letter to Secretary Chao in September, the House Oversight committee cited major concerns with the way Chao used her position to benefit the Foremost Group in her capacity as transportation secretary. Here are some of the most serious problems with Chao’s ties to her family’s company.
- Chao attempted to bring family members with her to meet with Chinese officials during an official government visit in October 2017.
- Chao tried to hide the fact that she was bringing family members with her by abruptly canceling the trip after ethics inquiries and questions from the news media.
- Chao’s family shipping company flies Liberian–not American–flagged ships.
- Chao has been involved in decisions to de-prioritize or reduce funding for programs that benefit non-American flagged ships, which may help the Foremost Group.
- Chao failed to disclose honorary positions from China in a Senate questionnaire despite being required to do so, which her spokesperson admitted was an “oversight.”
- In August 2017, Chao attended a celebration of Foremost signing a deal with a Japanese company that has mass transit projects in the United States, which are overseen by her own department.
- Chao broke protocol by flying on a Chinese air carrier in April 2018 when a cheaper, direct American flight was available.
- Over two years into the job, Secretary Chao has yet to issue a strategic plan for America’s shrinking fleet of ships.
- Chao’s father touted her influence within the government and bragged about his access to President Trump.
- Chao’s family has donated over one million dollars to Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Party of Kentucky, and an affiliated super PAC that prioritized McConnell’s reelection.
- Senator McConnell has also personally profited off of his wife’s family, accepting gifts from his father-in-law that made him one of the richest members of the Senate.
For more information on the campaign, please visit InvestigateChao.org.
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