WASHINGTON – As Congress prepares to investigate Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s abuse of her leadership role to financially benefit herself and her family, the Department of Transportation (DOT) yesterday rushed to the secretary’s defense, protesting the clear evidence of Chao’s unethical actions while failing to produce the documents the Committee requested.
Restore Public Trust released the following statement in response:
“Secretary Chao’s office is in crisis mode after House Oversight launched an investigation into Chao’s ethical lapses,” said Lizzy Price, director of Restore Public Trust. “But unfortunately for them, the list of ethically questionable actions Chao has taken as secretary is even longer than the Congressional investigation plans to cover.
“Congress is right to look into Chao’s attempts to bolster her family’s shipping company and her own bottom line, but we encourage House Oversight to expand their investigation to encompass her department’s unethical favoritism towards Kentucky, the state where her husband faces a re-election fight next year. As for Secretary Chao’s office, they should probably work on getting those documents to Congress.“
The DOT’s response comes two weeks after the House Oversight and Reform Committee requested all documents related to communications between the Foremost Group, the shipping company Chao’s family owns, and the Transportation Department since Trump took office. The letter from the DOT ignored questions from House Oversight about a trip to China that Chao planned that was ultimately canceled “because State Department officials were leery of her efforts to include family members in meetings.”
Restore Public Trust has sounded the alarm on many of the issues on which Congress is now holding Chao accountable, including:
- Failure to Divest: Despite a written commitment to immediately divest in companies that directly engage with DOT, Chao failed to do so. Restore Public Trust asked the Inspector General to investigate.
- Shady Family Business Dealings: Chao is accused of using her position to help her family’s shipping company profit overseas. Chao family members have thanked her by gifting millions in donations and personal gifts to help her husband’s political career. Restore Public Trust filed a lawsuit to get records from the DOT they requested months ago.
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