Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is coming under more scrutiny after newly released documents show she invited employees of her family’s shipping business to an official Department of Transportation event in 2017.
Documents obtained through a legal action filed by the website American Oversight show that “Chao held a private photo session in 2017 at the Department of Transportation in which she and her father posed for photographs with employees of the Foremost Group and several Chinese media outlets.”
American Oversight argues that the photo session appears to show “a clear example of the secretary engaging with the Foremost Group while acting in an official capacity,” while also explaining that the session “took place at the Department of Transportation’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., immediately prior to a formal event celebrating the agency’s 50th anniversary at which Chao and McConnell spoke.”
New York Times reporter Eric Lipton, who has done extensive reporting on Chao’s potential conflicts of interest, notes on Twitter that Chao “says she has no ties to her family shipping company,” even though she literally invited them to an event at the federal agency she oversees.
ELAINE CHAO says she has no ties to her family shipping company. But she invited employees Foremost Group, the shipping company, to DOT HQ for a March 2017 celebration of 50th anniversary of DOT, agency calendar obtained by @weareoversight shows. See link: https://t.co/YC1FNNso1Z pic.twitter.com/4VP2sPTo4uADVERTISEMENT
— Eric Lipton (@EricLiptonNYT) June 10, 2019
Lipton and fellow Times reporter Mike Forsythe revealed last week that State Department officials raised concerns over a trip Chao planned to take to China in which her staff was communicating with Foremost employees in preparing for traveling to the country.
Shortly after the State Department raised ethics concerns, the entire trip was canceled.