Feather-nesting empresario and All-American Grifter, Elaine Chao is about to be investigated by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, but very little will come from it, because the Representatives all want transportation projects in their home districts and they know how Chao plays, which is to say she rewards and punishes.
And who does she reward?
Two words: Amply be-chinned Mitch McConnell (Okay, that was 4! Work with me, you pedants!) –
“The Transportation Department under Secretary Elaine Chao designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities from her husband Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $78 million for favored projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection.”
So who was this special liaison? Todd Inman is her chief of staff, so not some lowly intern! Also/Too: Inman worked as McConnell’s advance man!
“Chao’s designation of Inman as a special intermediary for Kentucky — a privilege other states did not enjoy — gave a special advantage to projects favored by her husband, which could in turn benefit his political interests. In such situations, ethicists say, each member of a couple benefits personally from the success of the other…
Can we say “nepotism?”
“Where a Cabinet secretary is doing things that are going to help her husband get reelected, that starts to rise to the level of feeling more like corruption to the average American. … I do think there are people who will see that as sort of ‘swamp behavior,’” said John Hudak, a Brookings Institution scholar who has studied political influence in federal grant-making.
Back to special liaison Inman, was he really giving special access to McConnell?
“In a February 2017 email to McConnell’s chief of staff, [Inman] wrote, “The Secretary has indicated if you have a Ky-specific issue that we should flag for her attention to please continue to go through your normal channels but feel free to contact me directly as well so we can monitor or follow up as necessary.”
That’s pretty special!
McConnell’s wattles shaking violently, he knows how to diffuse what should be a big scandal against Chao sending at least $78M Ameros his way:
“You know, I was complaining to her just last night: 169 projects, and Kentucky got only five. I hope we’ll do a lot better next year.”
Five does sound like a lot less than $78M.
Congressional Republicans banned earmarks in 2011, McConnell was forced to find other ways to bring the pork back home. Looks like he found it.
UPDATE 1: Whoddathunkit!
“Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has sold her shares in a paving-materials supplier after a Wall Street Journal report that she hadn’t fulfilled a pledge to relinquish the shares, agency documents show.
“Ms. Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), sold her shares in Vulcan Materials Co. on June 3, according to documents submitted to the Office of Government Ethics.”