Mitch McConnell’s wife is under investigation for ethics violations


Elaine Chao, Senator McConnell’s wife, is under investigation for ethics violations. Transportation Secretary during the Trump administration, Chao is accused of using Department of Transportation (DOT) resources for personal and family gain.

The DOT’s Office of Inspector General released a report on Wednesday detailing the findings uncovered during their investigation. Allegations included Chao using position and her agency’s staff to help family members, a violation of federal ethics laws. Chao’s family runs a shipping business with strong ties to China.


Details from the report cite an official trip Chao made to China in 2017. She included her father and sister in high-level meetings and provided transportation for them to universities that received support from her family’s business.

Chao also required her staff to help with personal errands and with the marketing her father’s book. Others on her staff were instructed to contact the Department of Homeland Security. They were told to check on the status of a work permit for the recipient of her family’s philanthropic foundation.

Although the inspector general referred the findings to the Justice Department in December 2020, the DOJ declined to open its own investigation. It was during the final days of the Trump presidency.

Chao is no stranger to ethics rules. She also served as President George W. Bush’s Labor Secretary. However, she defended herself by blaming her Asian culture for her actions. In a September 24, 2020, memo she wrote, “Anyone familiar with Asian culture knows it is a core value in Asian communities to express honor and filial respect toward one’s parents.”


Secretary Chao unexpectedly announced her resignation on January 7th, even though her tenure was slated to end just two weeks later. A spokesperson for Chao then issued a statement. The report “exonerates the Secretary from baseless accusations and closes the book on an election-year effort to impugn her history-making career as the first Asian American woman appointed to a President’s Cabinet and her outstanding record as the longest tenured Cabinet member since World War II.”

The Office of Inspector General’s report was issued almost two months after Chao resigned, sparking criticism.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), age 79, and Elaine Chao, age 67, have been married since 1993. McConnell was just reelected in November to his seventh term. Interestingly enough, there may be indications Senator McConnell may leave his position in the Senate before his term is up.


Republican Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers sponsored a bill requiring the state’s governor to pick a Republican successor if McConnell leaves office during his term. Senate Bill 228 was introduced in February, one month after the 117th Congress was sworn in. Senator McConnell has discussed the bill with Stivers and is “fully supportive” of the measure, according to his spokesperson.

One has to wonder what prompted the Kentucky state senator to introduce this legislation. Does he know something we don’t?

Does the ethics investigation of McConnell’s wife have something to do with this proposed legislation? If Chao is called in to testify during an ethics investigation, McConnell may be asked what he knew, and when he knew it.

Mitch McConnell lost his Senate leadership in the 2020 election. He has a lot more to lose if this investigation goes forward.

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