One of the real power couples in Washington, D.C. is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. She comes from an extremely wealthy major Taiwanese shipping family. Now, they have run into some real trouble.
McConnell considered himself to be the “Grim Reaper” of the Senate. He has stood at the Senate door and killed off over 100 bills generated by the people’s House of Representatives. Recently, he brought some jobs to a rural area of his state where a benefactor built an aluminum manufacturing plant.
That benefactor was the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. He is within Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s close circle of associates.
Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is the House Transportation Committee chair. He just sent a letter to the Department of Transportation ( DOT) inspector general (IG). He wanted the IG to investigate any potential conflicts of interests between Secretary Elaine Chao and Kentucky DOT operations.
Defazio said, according to POLITICO:
‘I would expect Secretary Chao to meet with individuals from her home state more regularly than other states, but the sheer volume … is troubling. Even more troubling is the fact that Senator McConnell’s campaign touted the POLITICO article on social media.’
What the Democrats wanted the inspector general to investigate was whether Chao gave the couple’s state undue partiality from her position. That prize might be the people of Kentucky voting for McConnell when he comes up for reelection in 2020.
DeFazio said that he asked the DOT’s IG to look into any conflicts of interest. It appeared that Chao has had a “disproportionate number of meetings with Kentucky officials.” The Democrat also asked the IG to investigate whether she had made the unusual choice of delegating a point person to deal specifically with Kentucky issues.
Previously, Chao had made unusual requests to schedule meetings between her family and with Chinese officials during Chao’s visit to the mainland. That also sparked the Democrats’ interest. In addition, the secretary did not divest from her family’s shipping business, Vulcan Materials Co.
A DOT spokesperson spoke anonymously to Politico, which has been a policy in the Trump administration. The individual said a left-wing advocacy group raised the allegations and publicized them. The spokesperson said the DOT had already dealt with them:
‘They are politically motivated and intended to waste time. While the Department will always be cooperative and responsive to appropriate requests, DOT looks forward to a prompt and final resolution of these questions.’
The minority leader of the House Transportation Committee Sam Graves (R-MO) called DeFazio’s ask:
‘ [a] ridiculous attempt at a political hit job focusing more on going down political rabbit holes [than] working on important bipartisan infrastructure issues. [Chao is] a consummate professional and effective transportation official.’
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin released a statement earlier about the Russian oligarch, which read:
‘Treasury sanctioned these companies because of their ownership and control by … Deripaska, not for the conduct of the companies themselves.’
Deripaska was caught in the sanctions President Barack Obama imposed on Russia for attacking the U.S. presidential election in 2016. Trump loosened those sanctions.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
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