RPT Calls for Senators to Investigate Sec. Chao Over Recent Scandals

As Chao Testifies on Capitol Hill, Scandals Still Swirl

Washington– Today, as Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao appears before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies to testify on the administration’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget, Restore Public Trust (RPT) calls on Senators to question Secretary Chao about the scandals that have consumed her tenure as Transportation Secretary as well as her history on the board of a scandal-ridden bank that cheated thousands of Americans.

“Because Trump’s cabinet is so infested with corruption, Secretary Chao’s scandals haven’t received the full attention they deserve,” said Lizzy Price, spokesperson for Restore Public Trust. “Secretary Chao has avoided the scrutiny she deserves for showing favoritism to her home state while her husband prepares for a tough election, resulting in back-door meetings and millions of taxpayer dollars. She’s hidden her schedules from public view, and she still hasn’t answered for her time spent on the Wells Fargo Board while the bank preyed on thousands of Americans. Chao has failed the transparency test time and again, and it’s time for Congress to step in and investigate.”

Here’s what we want Secretary Chao to be asked tomorrow:

  • You’ve previously touted your work to bring federal dollars back to Kentucky, stating that you “try not to come” to Kentucky “empty handed.” Why did the Department of Transportation spend 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?
  • Have you abused your position by giving outsized access to the meeting requests that come from your husband, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate office?
  • Why have you hidden your schedule by claiming nearly 300 hours of private time, the equivalent of seven weeks’ vacation, during your first 14 months as Transportation Secretary?
  • Would you say the Wells Fargo Board of Directors, on which you sat, practiced a responsible level of oversight while the bank preyed on consumers, including creating up to 3.5 million fake deposit accounts and that it often targeted vulnerable consumers?

Last month, Restore Public Trust released a report that found that Secretary Elaine Chao has used her position to award millions of grant dollars to Kentucky contractors and projects, the state where her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will face a tough re-election for Senate in 2020. In December of last year, RPT urged then-incoming House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters and the Financial Services Committee to look into Secretary Elaine Chao’s role Wells Fargo’s scandals while she served on the Wells Fargo Board of Directors.

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Elaine Chao

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