Donald Trump’s cabinet is fully awash in scandal this weekend, with HHS Secretary Tom Price having already resigned due to inappropriately taxpayer-funded private charter flights, and four other cabinet members caught up in similar scandals which may cost them their jobs. Now another member of Trump’s cabinet has been busted for financial corruption: Elaine Chao, who just happens to be married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Chao already had a history of scandal before Donald Trump picked her to be his Secretary of Transportation, a move which many have derided as an attempt on Trump’s part at ensuring McConnell’s loyalty. Now it turns out Chao is once again embroiled in scandal. When she took the cabinet position, she decided to hang onto six figures worth of stock in a company called Vulcan Materials (link). She resigned from the company’s board, but that was a meaningless gesture, because she kept her hand in the till. Why does this matter?
As the Secretary of Transportation, part of Elaine Chao’s job is to decide where U.S. taxpayer dollars go for infrastructure projects. She can steer taxpayer money right into the hands of Vulcan Materials, which in turn would serve to further enrich Chao herself. Her refusal to part ways with the stock, and to recuse herself from any decisions that might involve steering government business to the company, suggest corrupt intentions on her part. The bad news for Chao is that this financial corruption scandal is coming even as her fellow cabinet member just resigned in a financial corruption scandal.
It also serves to further underline just how corrupt of a decision Donald Trump made when he appointed Elaine Chao to his cabinet. He’s since inappropriately asked Mitch McConnell to sabotage the investigation into his Russia scandal. It’s clear in hindsight that he hired Chao to try to gain leverage over McConnell.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report