House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has an interesting wife. He married her after divorcing his first wife, and now is a member of a huge shipping family from Taiwan. His father-in-law has given the couple millions of dollars.
A State Department official was concerned that Mrs. Chao was using the department to schedule family visits in China. She canceled the strip after State Department officials raised ethical concerns, according to The New York Times:
‘She had these relatives who were fairly wealthy and connected to the shipping industry. Their business interests were potentially affected by meetings.’
She has not been formally affiliated to her family’s shipping business. Yet, she and Senator McConnell received:
‘…millions of dollars in gifts from her father, James, who ran the company until last year. And Mr. McConnell’s re-election campaigns have received more than $1 million in contributions from Ms. Chao’s extended family, including from her father and her sister Angela, now Foremost’s chief executive, who were both subjects of the State Department’s ethics question.’
The secretary cut programs to financially stablize the shakey maritime industry in the U.S., including cuts to federal grants to small commercial shipyards and federal loan guarantees to domestic shipbuilders.
Mrs. Chao tries to:
‘…slash spending for a grant program that helps keep 60 American-flagged ships in service (and)….tried to scale back plans to buy new ships that would train Americans as crew members. (In China, Ms. Chao’s family has paid for scholarships and a ship simulator to train Chinese seamen.)’
The House Oversight and Reform Committee has requested documents linked to her family’s shipping company. They are looking at a potential conflict of interest:
‘Foremost has received hundreds of millions of dollars in loan commitments from a bank run by the Chinese government to help build ships that Foremost has purchased from government-owned shipyards there.’
She appeared with her father, James Chao who began the company. In the planned trip to China, they planned to meet with Chinese government officials:
‘Federal regulations prohibit federal employees from using their public offices for the “private gain.”‘
The committee referred to The New York Times article and in Politico in 2018:
‘Several reports indicate that you have used your official position to benefit Foremost Group, a shipping company owned by your father and sisters that is headquartered in New York and operates a fleet that transports materials to and from China.’
The letter the committee sent to Chao referred to the cuts to the grant programs. Congress rejected her intents to cut:
‘…the Maritime Security Program, which subsidizes American-flagged cargo ships so they are available, when necessary, to help the Pentagon move supplies to war zones. Cutting those grants could have undermined the American maritime industry at the same time her family’s company was receiving support from the Chinese maritime industry.’
The investigation referred to her failure to sell off her interests in Vulcan Materials Company, something she promised to do in 2017. The company manufacturers road construction materials.
The secretary’s spokesperson said she has no official interests in helping Foremost. The failure to sell the Vulcan stock was just “an oversight.”
However, she had not sold her stock off as she oversaw federal highway building projects.
The House Oversight Committee requested 18 documents and information requests regarding communications between Chao and her father or her sister and Chief Executive, Angela Chao.
The secretary also directed federal transportation projects and jobs to her husband’s state. That would mean jobs at a time when he was preparing for the 2020 election.
The Mueller Report Adventures: In Bite-Sizes on this Facebook page. These quick, two-minute reads interpret the report in normal English for busy people. Mueller Bite-Sizes uncovers what is essentially a compelling spy mystery. Interestingly enough, Mueller Bite-Sizes can be read in any order.