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Trump official caught making money off stocks she was supposed to sell

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao signed an ethics pledge to sell stocks she owned. Instead, she’s still making money off them.

By Dan Desai Martin - May 28, 2019
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Elaine Chao

Trump’s Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has made more than $40,000 since April 2018, after breaking an ethics pledge to sell stocks in a construction materials business, according to a Tuesday Wall Street Journal report.

Before she was confirmed by the Senate in January 2017, Chao signed an ethics agreement to sell all the stock she owned in Vulcan Materials in April 2018. But she still hasn’t sold the stock she promised to sell, according to the WSJ. Between April 2018 and May 2019, the stock increased in value by 13%, netting her the more than $40,000.

President Obama’s Transportation secretary, Roy LaHood, also owned stock in companies like Caterpillar and Ford when he was confirmed, but took a different approach than Chao.

“I basically sold everything,” LaHood told the Journal. “The ethics police told me to do it, so I did it.”

Rather than sticking to her original promise, the Transportation Department said Chao’s ethics agreement was “flawed” and has moved to change it to reflect that fact that Chao is keeping the stock.

Chao’s decision to retain the stock is concerning, according to a former top ethics official.

“For the head of the DOT to have a financial interest in an asphalt company, that is not sending a message to employees of DOT that she is making ethics a priority,” Walter Shaub, former head of the federal Office of Government Ethics, told the Journal. Shaub resigned in July 2017 after disagreements with Trump and his Cabinet over ethical issues.

Numerous Trump Cabinet secretaries have already resigned in disgrace after unethical behavior, and current Cabinet officials are also mired in unethical muck.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin broke the law by not handing over Trump’s taxes. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied to Congress and broke the law around the issue of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Attorney General William Barr lied to the entire American public when he misled about what was contained in the Mueller report.

Chao’s behavior fits right in with the disturbing pattern of Trump administration officials.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

 


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