One Day After After Call for Expanded Investigation into Chao, McConnell Doubles Down on Chao’s Kentucky Favoritism

New tweet further proves a pattern of corruption between Chao and McConnell

WASHINGTON — Restore Public Trust released the following statement today after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign applauded Secretary Elaine Chao’s bias toward the couple’s home state of Kentucky in an attempt to sway voters. Leader McConnell’s reelection campaign admitted Chao’s favoritism, causing backlash from even their own party’s members in Kentucky. 

“What more evidence do we need that Chao is misusing her position to tilt political scales? Her husband even admits to it,” said Lizzy Price, Director of Restore Public Trust. “Secretary Chao is supposed to be beholden to taxpayers from every state, not just those in Kentucky, where she is attempting to influence her husband’s re-election. The Chao-McConnell swamp threatens our democracy and we must hold Chao accountable for illegal or unethical favors to Kentucky. Congress should expand their investigation of Chao because Americans deserve to know the truth about this corruption.”

On Monday, Restore Public Trust launched a multi-platform campaign calling on Congress to #InvestigateChao for her shady business dealings and financial favoritism to benefit the interests of her husband, her family, and herself. The campaign kicked off with a letter to the House Oversight and Reform Committee calling on it to expand its investigation into Chao.

The pattern of McConnell and Chao’s corruption of favoring Kentucky is clear.


Chao Took An Inordinate Amount Of Meetings With Kentucky Officials During Her First 14 Months In Office. “In all, 25 percent of Chao’s scheduled meetings with local officials from any state from January 2017 to March 2018 were with Kentuckians, who make up about only 1.3 percent of the U.S. population. The next closest were Indiana and Georgia, with 6 percent of meetings each, according to Chao’s calendar records, the only ones that have been made public.” [Politico, 10/7/19 

Chao Designated Her Chief of Staff, Todd Inman, To Be A Liaison For Kentucky Priorities, Paving The Way For Grants Totaling At Least $78 Million For Favored Projects Ahead Of McConnell’s Re-election. “Transportation Department under Secretary Elaine Chao designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities from her husband Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $78 million for favored projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection. Chao’s aide Todd Inman, who stated in an email to McConnell’s Senate office that Chao had personally asked him to serve as an intermediary, helped advise the senator and local Kentucky officials on grants with special significance for McConnell — including a highway-improvement project in a McConnell political stronghold that had been twice rejected for previous grant applications.” [Politico, 6/10/19]

  • Inman Was Listed As Attending 90 Percent Of Chao’s Meetings With Kentucky Officials, But Less Than Half Of Meetings With Other States’ Officials. “According to Chao’s official calendar logs, Inman was listed as an attendee for nearly 90 percent of her meetings with Kentucky state and local officials, but fewer than half of her meetings with officials from other states.”. [Politico, 10/7/19]

Chao and Her Staff Prioritized Meeting Requests From McConnell Staffers, Who Noted Which Meetings Were “Friends” Or “Loyal Supporters” And Sometimes Asked For “Special Favors.” “At least five of Chao’s 18 meetings with local Kentuckians were requested in emails from McConnell staffers, who alerted Chao’s staffers which of the officials were ‘friends’ or ‘loyal supporters,’ according to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The emails from McConnell’s office to Chao’s staff sometimes included details about projects that participants wanted to discuss with the secretary, or to ask her for special favors.’” [Politico, 10/7/19

Yahoo! News: Chao Ensured Paducah, KY Received $509 Million Over The Past Decade. “Why does Paducah love McConnell so much? Probably because for years, he and his wife, Elaine Chao — currently the transportation secretary and previously, under George W. Bush, the secretary of labor — have carefully cultivated and courted Paducah’s interests in ways that critics charge improperly mix their responsibilities, so that the politics of one can appear indistinguishable from the policy of another. Over the past decade and a half, Paducah has reaped $509 million in funds from federal departments Chao has been in charge of, according to Restore Public Trust, a progressive group that has tracked the Chao-McConnell relationship. Outwardly, that funding appears to violate no laws, but critics say it is improper all the same.” [Yahoo! News, 6/26/19]



Politico: McConnell Answered Kentucky Critics By Citing His Support For President Trump And Ability To Deliver Grants, Including Those From The Department Of Transportation, To The State. “In a recent Morning Consult poll, only 36 percent of Kentuckians approved of his performance, the lowest of any senator facing re-election in 2020. But McConnell answers his critics by citing his support for President Donald Trump and his ability to deliver grants – some of which are from the department his wife leads. ‘There are some distinct advantages to having me as the majority leader of the United States Senate,’ he said at the August 2018, Fancy Farm picnic in western Kentucky. ‘I’m in a position to take special care of Kentucky.’” [Politico, 10/7/19

A Former McConnell Campaign Manager Said McConnell’s Ability To Make Sure Kentucky Took “Their Fair Share Of Federal Program Money” Helped Overcome Deficits In Personal Popularity. “Jesse Benton, who was McConnell’s campaign manager for the bulk of the 2014 race, said the senator’s ability to flex his power in Washington resonates with Kentucky voters, even if he isn’t particularly well-liked. ‘I started off thinking we needed to do things to. . . make people see what a warm guy he is,’ said Benton. ‘People didn’t care. What they wanted to see was a McConnell who was powerful, strong and putting Kentucky first, whether it means keeping Kentucky in national conversations, or whether he’s making sure they take their fair share of federal program money.’” [Politico, 10/7/19

McConnell Said He Was “Proud To Support Many Of These” Grant Applications, And Saying Kentuckians Should Contact His Office If They’re Applying For Competitive Grants. “When asked for comment for this story, McConnell said in an email, ‘Communities throughout Kentucky were awarded competitive federal grants, bringing critical resources to projects in our state. I was proud to support many of these applications. If you are interested in applying for competitive federal grants, I hope you will contact my office.’ His office also sent a rundown of other federal grants McConnell helped secure, including $743,000 for drone technology and $11 million for the Blue Grass Airport near Lexington.” [Politico, 10/7/19 

McConnell Received $331,029.50 From Paducah Residents In 2013 And 2014, Averaging Out To $13 Per Person. “When McConnell was running for reelection in 2014, Paducah voted for him over his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, at twice the rate of the rest of the state. Analysis of campaign contributions shows that Paducah gave McConnell a total of $331,029.50 in 2013 and 2014. For a town whose population is only about 25,000 people, that averages to more than $13 for every man, woman and child.” [Yahoo! News, 6/26/19]

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