For the most part, Mrs. Mitch McConnell, er, Elaine Chao, has flown under the radar, an underachieving grifter in a master class of grifters known as the Trump Administration. Sure, we had that flying fiend Tom “First Class” Price, and the Worst Bond Villain Ever Steve Mnuchen flying his Bond villainess wife on a chase of the total eclipse of the sun and ending up at Fort Knox (where he could indulge his hobby of taking pictures of himself with money!), and who could forget Scott “$50/Night” Pruitt? Good times, man, good times.
But Chao? Pretty invisible.
Until now, that is!
Sure, last week we learned that Chao profited $40K Ameros when she “forgot” to sell her Vulcan holdings on whose board she sat, you know, as part of her confirmation:
In an ethics agreement at the outset of the Trump administration, Chao told the Office of Government Ethics that she would not “participate personally and substantially in any particular matter in which I know that I have a financial interest,” and said she would resign her position with Vulcan Materials and anticipated receiving a cash payout for her “vested deferred stock units” in 2018, the year after she would separate from the company.
$40K Ameros seems like a rounding error in the crowd she runs with, so you know, maybe it was a boo-boo?
Chao was previously the Labor secretary during the Bush administration, and from the outset of the Trump administration, she has been the head of the Transportation Department, which, as the Times noted, makes Chao the top official overseeing the US shipping industry.
But in an odd coinkydink, Chao forgot to mention her family’s business, which is shipping, and is something the Transportation Secretary might, you know, OVERSEE! Weird how she might forget that, huh?
But wait! It gets worse!
“Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao requested to hold “alarmingly inappropriate” meetings with members of her family—which runs an American shipping company—and Chinese government officials, an investigation by The New York Times shows. In October 2017, Chao reportedly asked federal officials to help arrange travel to China for at least one family member and have them included in meetings with officials. “She had these relatives who were fairly wealthy and connected to the shipping industry,” said a State Department official.
“These relatives” would include her parents, and her sister, Angela Chao, who happens to be the CEO of the company.
“Their business interests were potentially affected by meetings.” The trip was reportedly canceled by Chao after ethics concerns were raised with the State and Transportation Departments. The company, Foremost Group, does most of its business with China, and is contracted to haul for Beijing’s coal and iron-ore industries.
Chao has no formal role at the company but she and her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), have received millions of dollars in gifts from her father, James, who ran the company until last year. Foremost has reportedly received hundreds of millions of dollars in loan commitments from a bank run by the Chinese government.”
Denials from Chao’s family are laughable:
Chao’s sister Angela, who runs Foremost, told the Times that the company does not have a “China focus” and said, “We are an international shipping company, and I’m an American.”
Per the NYTimes, Foremost Group is “overwhelmingly focused on China,” with roughly 72% of materials it has shipped since early 2018 going to China. Foremost constructs almost all its vessels in state-owned shipyards in China, some with loans from the Chinese government. (ALLEGEDLY!)
“I don’t think that, if I didn’t have a Chinese face, there would be any of this focus on China.” –Angela Chao
LOOK OVER THERE! SQUIRREL!!1!
The issue is not your face, Angela, it is using your sister’s connections to enhance your bidness. Nice try, tho!
And Elaine Chao herself defends the family’s bidness (the shipping, not the grifting):
“My family are patriotic Americans who have led purpose-driven lives and contributed much to this country. They embody the American dream, and my parents inspired all their daughters to give back to this country we love.”
So it seems we totally underestimated Chao’s ability to hold her own in a team of grifters; she’s been running a world-class con right under Prznint Stupid’s nose, and not offering him the cream off the top. Wanna start the countdown clock to when she’s You’re Fired’ed?