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DOT watchdog faults Elaine Chao in ethics probe

Chao did comply with chorus from scheduling media occasions involving her household with out consulting with DOT’s ethics workplace. This occurred after POLITICO reported on her media appearances along with her father in which she promoted his private story, his delivery enterprise and his e book.

She additionally requested her workers to inquire concerning the standing of a piece allow utility for a overseas scholar learning at a U.S. college who had obtained an award from her household’s philanthropic basis, the inspector basic discovered. And the report reveals that Chao moreover used DOT sources and workers for private duties, reminiscent of checking on repairs at a retailer for her father and having them ship Christmas ornaments to her household.

Investigators from the IG’s workplace referred their findings to the Justice Division’s U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace and its Public Integrity Part in December, however each workplaces declined to open felony investigations.

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Chao couldn’t instantly be reached for remark by way of the Hudson Institute assume tank, the place she is a fellow.

“Whereas I commend the Division of Transportation’s Workplace of Inspector Normal for conducting this evaluation, I’m disenchanted that it was not accomplished and launched whereas Secretary Chao was nonetheless in workplace,” stated Home Transportation Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), one in all two lawmakers who requested the investigation. “I’m much more disenchanted that the Division of Justice declined to additional pursue the issues that the IG’s workplace substantiated in its investigation.”

The inspector basic didn’t discover proof to again up different allegations of misconduct by Chao. These embody a number of raised by POLITICO’s reporting that concerned DOT’s funneling of discretionary grant cash inordinately to Kentucky, the state represented by her husband, Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell.

The inspector basic additionally appeared on the frequency of conferences Chao and her high officers had with Kentucky officers however stated there’s “no customary by which to evaluate whether or not the variety of conferences from one’s house state is so extreme as to lift moral points.” The IG additionally discovered no “irregularities” in the division’s grant awards to Kentucky, although it famous ongoing criticisms of the dearth of transparency in DOT’s grantmaking course of.

The inspector basic’s workplace had already opened a preliminary evaluation of Chao’s potential misuses of her workplace earlier than being requested by the committee. The workplace determined there wasn’t sufficient proof to warrant a proper investigation into grant awards or Chao’s monetary curiosity in Vulcan Supplies however moved ahead with a proper investigation into “potential misuses of place.”

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