McConnell's wife is using her government role to make sure his pet projects get funded
Trump’s Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is making sure her husband Mitch McConnell is taken care of as he heads into an election year.
Kentucky is benefiting from unethical behavior by Trump’s Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who happens to be Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell’s spouse, Politico reported Monday morning.
Under Chao’s leadership, the Department of Transportation created a special liaison to work with grant applications from Kentucky that were priorities for McConnell, currently the Senate majority leader, helping funnel $78 million to the state. No other state received such hands-on treatment, according to Politico.
The liaison, Todd Inman, worked on projects that were politically important to McConnell as he is up for reelection 2020. In one instance, a grant application for a highway improvement project was rejected twice before Inman got involved and helped guide the process to a successful conclusion. The $11.5 million grant could steer more businesses to the area, which Politico described as one of McConnell’s “political strongholds.”
“Todd probably smoothed the way, I mean, you know, used his influence,” a local official told Politico.
The behavior alarmed longtime experts in government ethics.
“Where a Cabinet secretary is doing things that are going to help her husband get reelected, that starts to rise to the level of feeling more like corruption to the average American,” John Hudak, a scholar with the Brookings Institution, told Politico.
Even though no other state has a special liaison within the transportation department, a department spokesperson still insisted to Politico that “No state receives special treatment from DOT.”
Chao’s tenure as transportation secretary has been rocked by controversy, especially when it comes to doling out favors to family members.
In late 2017, Chao made an “alarmingly inappropriate” request to have federal officials coordinate travel arrangements for her family members, who run a shipping company, so they could be included in a high-level meeting with Chinese officials during Chao’s scheduled visit to China, according to David H. Rank, a former State Department official. Documents unearthed by the New York Times showed State Department officials alarmed that Chao would make such a request, raising ethics concerns at the time.
In May, the Wall Street Journal revealed Chao never sold stock in a construction materials business despite signing an ethics pledge saying she would. The oversight earned Chao more than $40,000 as the stock increased in value.
As McConnell kicks his reelection campaign into high gear, he is bragging about the federal dollars he’s securing for his home state, but he’s making no mention of the ethically dubious methods used to funnel the money there.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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