Former Peace Corps Director Elaine Chao busted for financial corruption

Thanks to a ‘heads up’ from Dale Gilles (Liberia 1964 & 67; PC/W 1968-73 & 1990-93)

Trump cabinet member Elaine Chao, wife of Mitch McConnell, busted for financial corruption scandal

by Bill Palmer
Palmer Report
Updated: 11:09 pm EDT Fri Sep 29, 2017

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.



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  • So much for draining the swamp! The big news here really is a lack of movement or leadership around the one issue both sides of the isle agree on–infrastructure development. As our bridges deteriorate, roads go unrepaired and our airports continue to fall behind in comparison to others around the world–I’m seeing no movement to get started with programs which would generate more jobs and positively impact all levels of our society. Just as Elaine inspired so few during her short stint as PC Director she seems to have been equally unimpressive as the Transportation Secretary.

  • Elaine Chao may actually be in the perfect job, as swamp-jobs go, considering that the Dept of Transportation, regardless of what else it may be, traditionally has been the cashier for rewarding compliant senators and congressmen with lavish highway building awards to their states. Purely subjective, like the famous Alaska “Bridge to Nowhere” a while ago. Never mind that Elaine probably can’t tell a bridge from a grasshopper. It has nothing to do with asphalt and concrete, and a lot to do with money, and voting the right way in Congress. John Turnbull, New Mexico

      • Edward,

        According to her website, updated in May of 2018, she is still Secretary of Transportation. No mention of anything else. So I presume that all is well and there were no consequences.

  • I am curious about what kinds of ties and relationships that Elaine Chao developed in 1992 when she was Director of the Peace Corps. I was volunteering in Jamaica at the time and her appointment as Director of the Peace Corps was a really big deal. My understanding is that her focus was to teach Capitalism in the former Soviet Union block countries. She was only around for about a year until Clinton became President.

    Here is what I found on Elaine Chao’s website:

    “Peace Corps 1991-92
    Elaine Chao’s tenure as Peace Corps Director coincided with a particularly eventful period in world history as the Baltic nations threw off the yoke of domination and the former Soviet Union Empire was imploding of its own weight. President George H.W. Bush nominated Elaine as Peace Corps Director in June 1991 and she was sworn in on December 2, 1991 after which she embarked immediately on a trip to Nepal to visit Peace Corps Volunteers. She is the first Asian Pacific American Peace Corps Director.

    With the advent of the dramatic rise of new emerging democracies in that part of the world, Elaine Chao established the first Peace Corps programs in the newly liberated Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union to help its peoples adapt to the new free enterprise economic system.

    Peace Corps is a U. S. government agency that sends young Americans to volunteer in developing countries for two years. Traditionally, the majority of Peace Corps volunteers were often newly graduated from colleges, and worked in developing nations with subsistence economies by helping to build ditches, improve agricultural methods, elementary education and community hygiene.

    For the new programs in the Baltic and the former Soviet republics, there was less need for such assistance. Instead, these countries requested more sophisticated aid in developing private sector entrepreneurial and small business capabilities. Secretary Chao realized that the new programs in this region needed to focus on different skills to help jump-start the fledging new economies to ensure the continued survival of these new democracies.

    So, Peace Corps launched a new campaign to recruit more experienced volunteers with business, marketing, financial, accounting backgrounds who had at least five years of work experience in the private sector. A hotline set up for candidates interested in participating in this exciting new initiative during this historic period in world history, received over 1,000 calls the first day it was in operation. By fall, over 250 Peace Corps Volunteers were on their way to the Republic of Russia. And, other volunteers were soon to follow to Ukraine, Georgia and other newly established nations of the former Soviet Union.

    Other achievements as Director included streamlining the Peace Corps Volunteer recruitment and application process. As Director, Elaine Chao also sought to have a Peace Corps of volunteers and staff that reflected the racial and cultural diversity of the United States.”

    Anyone have any first hand experience with this initiative?

  • Look at what the Fulbright is currently doing with many of it’s fellowships nowadays. Seems to employ the same reasoning. The answer to the riddle…..

  • Corrupt to the core….the Chao/McConnell Con is not surprising, it fits the Trump family style use of office to profit from power.

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