Elaine Chao, who served as the Transportation Secretary throughout most of the Trump administration and is the wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), is apparently having difficulty finding work following her stint on the Trump team as companies remain concerned about associating with Trump allies. Chao resigned from the Trump administration after the January Capitol rioting, but she stuck by Trump for years prior to that point. Now, “Headhunters who have sought… prominent work for Chao have found little interest,” according to The Washington Post.
Chao’s past experience includes time on the boards of companies like Dole Foods, Protective Life, and Wells Fargo, and she’s earned millions of dollars in positions like these. The Post reports as follows:
‘[Now] Chao is encountering a fraught reentry into the private sector. Headhunters who have sought similarly prominent work for Chao have found little interest, according to two headhunters she’s consulted personally. The headhunters, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions, said top executives wary of backlash from associating with former Trump officials are boiling down Chao’s four-decade Washington résumé to its most recent entry: long-standing ally of Donald Trump, despite her resignation the day after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.’
A source who the Post described as “close to Chao” claimed that she’s been able to find some success with her outreach to unspecified corporations. As the source put it, Chao is “interested in new economy companies, has already accepted board positions and is currently in various stages of finalizing agreements with them and others,” although it’s worth noting that it’s unclear which companies might be involved in these negotiations. Wells Fargo, where Chao served on the board until 2017, hasn’t re-nominated Chao to serve on the board once again.
Chao was the subject of a recent report from the inspector general for the Transportation Department, who found numerous abuses of power on her part. At one point, Chao even tasked a department staff member with editing the Wikipedia page for Chao’s father, who founded a shipping company, which obviously has no legitimate connection to actual government work. The inspector general referred the matter to the Justice Department for potential prosecution, but they declined to bring a case.