Transportation Secretary Unveils $25 Million Transportation Department Grant to Pay for Highway Improvements
Washington — Over the weekend, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao unveiled a $25 million Transportation Department grant to a county in Kentucky, in the latest example of Chao using her position to benefit her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as he prepares for re-election. Secretary Chao awarded the grant alongside prominent Kentucky GOP politicians Governor Matt Bevin and Representative Hal Rodgers.
“Secretary Chao’s blatant favors to help bolster her husband’s re-election prospects are shameful,” said Lizzy Price, spokesperson for Restore Public Trust. “If Secretary Chao is using her position to show favor and misdirect tax dollars for her husband’s benefit, then her actions are not only unethical, but they directly fly in the face of her boss’s supposed promise to ‘drain the swamp.’ The evidence is overwhelming, which is why Congress should investigate Secretary Chao immediately.”
Earlier this year, Restore Public Trust released a report that found that Chao has used her position to award millions of grant dollars to Kentucky contractors and projects. The report found that:
- In 2018, Chao’s Department of Transportation spent nearly $14 million on projects located in Kentucky in 2018, over an $11 million increase in funding from the final year of the Obama Administration;
- In 2018, Chao’s Department of Transportation chose Paducah, Kentucky, as the site of a new DOT maritime gateway office. Paducah, with a population of about 25,000, is the smallest town to host a DOT maritime gateway office. Other offices are in major hubs such as New York and Miami;
- Chao has touted her work to bring federal dollars back to Kentucky, stating that she tries “not to come” to Kentucky “empty handed.”
This isn’t the first time that Chao’s close relationship with her husband’s Senate office has been under scrutiny. In response to requests from her husband’s office, Chao “has met at least 10 times with politicians and business leaders” from the couple’s home state of Kentucky since becoming Transportation Secretary. And in some cases, the people Chao met with later “received what they were hoping for from Chao’s department.”