Quantcast
Connect with us

Mitch McConnell’s buddies showered with grant money and special treatment — thanks to wife Elaine Chao

Published

on

An aide to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao helped direct grant money and other benefits to Kentucky, which her husband Mitch McConnell represents in the U.S. Senate.

Chao aide Todd Inman helped advise the Senate majority leader and local Kentucky officials on grants totaling $78 million as McConnell prepares to run for re-election, and he said in an email to the Republican senator’s office that the Transportation secretary had personally asked him to intervene, reported Politico.

ADVERTISEMENT

Chao and her chief of staff have met annually starting in April 2017 with a group of officials in Inman’s hometown of Owensboro, a McConnell stronghold, to discuss road upgrades to a commercial riverport and a proposal to reclassify portions of a local parkway as an interstate to help spur business investment.

Inman adised the riverport authority on how to improve their grant application, and he also discussed the project with Al Mattingly, chief executive of Daviess County, where Owensboro is located.

“Todd probably smoothed the way, I mean, you know, used his influence,” Mattingly told Politico. “Everybody says that projects stand on their own merit, right? So if I’ve got 10 projects, and they’re all equal, where do you go to break the tie?”

“Well, let’s put it this way,” Mattingly added. “I only have her ear an hour when I go to visit (Chao) once a year. With a local guy, he has her ear 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You tell me.”

Inman also communicated with McConnell’s office about requests from county executives to meet with Chao to discuss other projects in Kentucky, including a $67 million discretionary grant to upgrade roads in rural Boone County, another McConnell stronghold just south of Cincinnati.

ADVERTISEMENT

That project was approved in June 2018.

A former career official who was involved in the grant review process across multiple administrations said politics often plays a role in doling out funding.

“(It’s) really, very common, I would say across parties,” that former official said.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It’s always going to be political,” the former official added. “We have a merit-based process that we essentially ignore, [and] it’s really detrimental to meeting national transportation needs and having people feel like the process is worth engaging in.”

However, one ethics watchdog said showing political favoritism in grant awards violated ethical standards, and having a husband-wife team taking part in those decisions adds an additional level of concern.

ADVERTISEMENT

“There’s a standard for government employees; they’re expected to be impartial,” said Virginia Canter, a former White House associate counsel under Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and current ethics counsel for the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “When you have a spouse who’s the head of an agency and the other spouse is a leading member of Congress — and their office is referring matters to the department, and they’re flagging things from donors, from people with particular political affiliations, who are quote-unquote ‘friends’ — it raises the question of whether the office, instead of being used purely for official purposes, is being used for political purposes.”

“The fact that they’re both in these very important positions gives them the opportunity to be watching out for each other’s political and professional interests,” Canter added. “Anytime a member of Congress can bring home funding to his or her community it could make a difference. It shows the member is being responsive.”


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan to give up royal titles — ‘the hardest #Megxit possible’

Published

on

Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their royal titles and public funding as part of a settlement with the Queen to start a new life away from the British monarchy.

The historic announcement from Buckingham Palace on Saturday follows more than a week of intense private talks aimed at managing the fallout of the globetrotting couple's shock resignation from front-line royal duties.

It means Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Harry and his American TV actress wife Meghan will stop using the titles "royal highness" -- the same fate that befell his late mother Princess Diana after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

GOP senator tells home-state press that impeachment trial must be ‘viewed as fair’: report

Published

on

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke to local reporters on Saturday about her role in the upcoming Donald Trump impeachment trial.

Murkowski explained she would likely vote with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on an initial vote on whether to allow witnesses. However, she left the door open to voting for witnesses after House impeachment managers make their opening case.

"I don't know what more we need until I have been given the base case," she said. "We will have that opportunity to say 'yes' or 'no' ... and if we say 'yes,' the floor is open."

Overall, Murkowski said it was important for the trial to been viewed as fair.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

White House press secretary urged to do her job: ‘We don’t pay you to be a Twitter troll’

Published

on

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was blasted on Saturday over the confusion resulting from her refusal to hold daily press briefings.

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy was alarmed that Grisham's assistant, Hogan Gidley, was forcing reporters to refer to his remarks as coming from a "sources close to the President's legal team."

Darcy noted that Trump had repeatedly questioned the veracity of unnamed sources, making it problematic for Gidley to demand to be quoted as such.

https://twitter.com/oliverdarcy/status/1218704788432572422

Grisham responded to the criticism and asked Darcy to "stop with the righteous indignation.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image