WASHINGTON – Following pressure from lawmakers for Secretary Elaine Chao to deliver a months-overdue memo about her agency’s decision-making about INFRA freight grants, Restore Public Trust Director Lizzy Price released the following statement:
“As 2019 comes to a close, Secretary Elaine Chao continues to stand in the way of transparency at the Department of Transportation. Chao has refused to be open with Congress and the American people about her agency’s actions and the public deserves better than a government official who hides the truth. Chao’s shady behavior begs the question: what does she have to hide?”
Representatives Peter DeFazio and Eleanor Holmes Norton have been asking Chao for the INFRA grant transparency documents since July, to no avail. But this is just the latest in a long pattern of actions Chao has taken to stall progress on important projects and block efforts toward enhancing transparency at her agency, including:
- Hindering a House Oversight investigation into her ethics violations: The Department of Transportation has still failed to turn over documents requested by the House Oversight and Reform Committee for its investigation into Elaine Chao. The committee is investigating Chao for using her power to bolster her family’s shipping company, the Foremost Group, and for failing to divest from Vulcan Materials — a company that directly lobbies the transportation department — after she was sworn in as transportation secretary.
- Stalling on crucial infrastructure repairs without explanation: Chao has failed to offer any reason for her department’s refusal to make repairs to more than 100-year-old Gateway tunnel, which carries 200,000 passengers daily along the northeast corridor and experts have judged could fail at anytime. Reporting this year revealed that after lawmakers repeatedly asked Chao to tour the route under the tunnel, she did so — alone, without informing them in advance or after the fact.
- Taking 300 hours of “private time” on the job: Chao hid her schedule, claiming nearly nearly 300 hours of “private time” — the equivalent of seven weeks’ vacation — during her first 14 months as transportation secretary, which many DOT officials said was “unusual.” We still don’t know what she was doing or who she was meeting with during those times.