WASHINGTON – Moments ago, the House passed a 2020 spending bill that will give $24.8 billion to the Department of Transportation (DOT). But the money comes with a crucial stipulation: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao cannot personally benefit from the funds her agency receives. Restore Public Trust released the following statement in response:
“Under any other administration, it would seem ludicrous that Congress would have to specify that taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used for Cabinet members’ private gain,” said Lizzy Price, director of Restore Public Trust. “But with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s history of abusing her office and misusing taxpayer dollars, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The public deserves better than a transportation secretary who bolsters herself, her family, and her husband’s political career on the taxpayer’s dime.”
The news follows new evidence this week that Chao may have unfairly helped Kentucky, the state her husband Mitch McConnell represents in the Senate, win a highly competitive $67.4 million transportation grant this year — the largest transportation grant the state has received under the Trump administration.
Today’s POLITICO story is just the latest evidence in Chao’s long pattern of Kentucky favoritism as head of the DOT, including assigning a personal liaison for Kentucky pet projects and funneling grants and infrastructure projects to the state.
In addition to the rider protecting the budget money from personal use, the funding bill also took aim at Chao’s efforts to stall funding for much-needed improvements to the Gateway tunnel, a passage used by 200,000 people each day that experts predict could fail at any time.