More on Elaine Chao’s Scandal….But is it Fake News?

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

Mitch McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao may be forced to resign in scandal from Donald Trump’s cabinet

From the Palmer Report

Bill Palmer
Updated: 8:10 pm EDT Sat Sep 30, 2017

Even as Donald Trump has spent the day frantically tweeting angry and defensive rhetoric about Puerto Rico and other controversies, he has yet to address the exploding scandals within his own cabinet. It’s already prompted last night’s resignation of HHS Secretary Tom Price, and at least four other cabinet members have been caught in similar infractions. But the next cabinet member to resign may be due to a different kind of financial scandal: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Chao is best known for three things. 1) She was embroiled in a drug shipment scandal before Trump appointed her (link), and objectively speaking, should not have been given the job. 2) She’s the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 3) It’s widely believed that Trump gave her the job in an attempt at convincing McConnell to protect him in his Russia scandal. On top of all that, it turns out Chao decided to hang onto six figures worth of stock in an infrastructure company called Vulcan Materials (link). Why is that a problem?

As the Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao gets to decide whether to steer large amounts of taxpayer dollars to Vulcan Materials or to one of its infrastructure competitors. This kind of conflict of interest is precisely why cabinet members are supposed to part ways with investments in individual companies. She was hoping her ownership in the company would remain under the radar, but now that other Trump cabinet members are caught up in financial scandals, suddenly the spotlight is on Chao’s stock position. It’s something she can’t actually fix.

Elaine Chao used to sit on the Vulcan board of directors, which is how she acquired the stock. It’s structured such that she can’t sell it until April of next year. In the mean time, if she’s forced to choose between forfeiting the stock to keep her job, or resigning her job to keep the stock, it seems likely she’ll choose the latter.


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  • NEWS Chao Center Dedicated at HBS 6.6.16 The newly opened Chao Center at Harvard Business School
    Prominent political and business leaders, including ,,,,Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker ’79, gathered this morning for the official dedication of the new gateway to the executive-education program at Harvard Business School (HBS)—the replacement for Kresge Hall. The new building was constructed following a $40-million gift from the Dr. James Si-Cheng Chao and Family Foundation. The Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center—honoring Dr. Chao’s late wife—will be the first building on the HBS campus named for a woman, as well as the first building at Harvard named for an Asian American. (An HBS press release issued in 2014, when construction started on the building, stated that the Chao Center would be the first Harvard building named in honor of a woman; that claim overlooked Maxwell Dworkin, named for Mary Maxwell Gates and Beatrice Dworkin Ballmer, the mothers of donors Bill Gates ’77, LL.D. ’07, and Steve Ballmer ’77, respectively, and Agassiz House, which carries the name of Radcliffe’s first president, Elizabeth Cary Agassiz. Update, June 6, 2016: In addition, Longfellow Hall at the Graduate School of Education is named for Alice Longfellow, a benefactor of Radcliffe College and the daughter of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.)

    HBS dean Nitin Nohria opened the ceremony by thanking the Chao family for their gift, calling the new center “a building with a true sense of place and purpose” and its namesake “an extraordinary matriarch of a remarkable family.” The Chaos have six daughters, four of whom—Elaine Chao, M.B.A. ’79, who was Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush; Grace Chao, M.B.A. ’78; May Chao, M.B.A. ’85; and Angela Chao ’95, M.B.A. ’01—are HBS alumnae.

    President Drew Faust told the crowd, which included Chinese-language media and some of James Chao’s classmates from Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, “We gather today to celebrate a new building that will inspire extraordinarily talented students and faculty, not just from around the country, but from across the world.”

    Elaine Chao, speaking on behalf of her family, explained the motivation for their philanthropic gift: “We were excited to have the opportunity to help educate leaders who make a difference in the world.” She praised her parents, who fled China after its civil war, settling first in Taiwan and eventually in the United States, for their dedication to their daughters’ education. “The hardships that they endured,” she said, “instilled in them a lifelong commitment to build bridges of understanding between people of different backgrounds and cultures.”

    Although Elaine Chao’s husband, Senator McConnell, did not speak at the ceremony, his Democratic colleague, Senator Markey, addressed him directly in his remarks, acknowledging, “I know what it means to you to have this incredible family celebration, honoring this historic family.” Markey also commended HBS for its worldwide reach. “The presence of so many people here from around the world,” he said, “reflects the truly global story that is the foundation of this center, this family, and the greatest global institution for academics in the world, Harvard University.” He added, in jest, that HBS “is also where you can take a class in business [with] Channing Tatum, LL Cool J, and NBA stars”—celebrities enrolled in a recent executive-education course on education, media, and sports. The Business School, Markey said, “has something for everyone.”

    There was also more serious political talk at the ceremony, despite its bipartisan roster of speakers and guests. Markey took the opportunity to laud immigrants in general, asserting that immigrants “now launch more than one-quarter of all businesses in the United States. Immigrants are risk-takers, and they’re job creators.” He called the Chao family “the pluperfect example of the American dream come true, the quintessential immigrant story to the United States of America.”

    Senator Warren, a former Law School professor, delivered a short statement in which she also recounted the Chaos’s immigrant success story: “They worked hard in this country,” she said, “but they never forgot how they started. They never forgot the opportunities that were opened to them because of education.” Warren called the Chao family’s donation “a gift that will permit the School to build a lasting legacy to expand opportunities for many, many more young people.”

    Governor Baker announced that he was discarding his prepared remarks, and instead read a statement previously issued by James Chao: “Because Ruth devoted her life to excellence in education and enhancing U.S.-China relations,” it read in part, “she embodied the spirit of the love of learning of this university community.”

    That evocation of the building’s namesake led fittingly to the ceremonial conclusion, when James Chao cut the red ribbon and opened the Chao Center, flanked by the Harvard and government dignitaries, as well as his daughters and six grandchildren. He spoke only briefly, to thank those in attendance by citing a Chinese saying—“When you have big thanks, just keep silent.”

    article in HARVARD UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE by Aidan Langston ’19 is this magazine’s 2016 Daniel Steiner Undergraduate Editorial Fellow.

    • Elaine Chao
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      18th United States Secretary of Transportation
      Assumed office
      January 31, 2017
      President Donald Trump

      24th United States Secretary of Labor
      In office
      January 29, 2001 – January 20, 2009
      President George W. Bush

      12th Director of the Peace Corps
      In office
      October 8, 1991 – November 13, 1992
      President George H. W. Bush
      Preceded by Paul Coverdell
      Succeeded by Carol Bellamy

      United States Deputy Secretary of Transportation
      In office
      April 19, 1989 – October 8, 1991
      President George H. W. Bush

      Chair of the Federal Maritime Commission
      In office
      April 29, 1988 – April 19, 1989
      President Ronald Reagan
      George H. W. Bush

      Commissioner of the Federal Maritime Commission
      In office
      April 29, 1988 – April 19, 1989
      President Ronald Reagan
      George H. W. Bush

      Born Elaine Lan Chao
      March 26, 1953 (age 64)
      Taipei, Taiwan Province, Republic of China
      Political party Republican
      Spouse(s) Mitch McConnell (m. 1993)
      Parents James Chao
      Ruth Chu
      Education Mount Holyoke College (BA)
      Harvard University (MBA)
      Net worth $24 million[1]

      Chao was the first Asian American woman and the first Chinese American in U.S. history to be appointed to a President’s Cabinet. Chao is married to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who has been the Senate Republican Leader since January 3, 2007.[7]

  • “Backward oh backward oh time in thy flight, make me a child again — just for tonight” my great grandmother Jane Kennedy Delehant intoned so often from her rocker on our porch on 8th Street 2 blocks behind the City Hall in Niagara Falls, NY. She was born in northwest Pennsylvania and had all of these I guess Pennsylvania Dutch and Quaker sayings such as the warning not to waste or “you’ll follow the crows before you die” and the one about “geese walking over your grave”. I’m 80 and I remember her at that age passing the old thoughts on. I don’t have a porch to rock on, but as in the 82-line poem ULYSSES by Alfred Lord Tennyson I rock on in the long progression of rocks of age and experience. I must have been 10 when she died in the old folks home in Ransomville over toward Buffalo. When I was eleven, we moved all 9 of us to Texas, to Dallas, and that is a strange place but with human beings you would like (also fools and crackpots and mean ones, too — but you’d know that already). I was on Elm Street when Jack and Jackie Kennedy passed us by a block before he was murdered. Well as the song goes from the musical ANNIE, it’s a hard knock life. For most people. When will we learn, when will we ever learn?
    I read the other day on Facebook that Tennessee Williams said or wrote that whatever makes you meaner makes you weak.

    • Dear Edward,

      Thank you for a peek into your family history and your favorite poetry. You remind me that, after the thundering waves of rhetoric and politics crash against the shore, we should listen to the soft surf that follows as the tide goes out.

      Approaching 80 we know these things.

      Leita Kaldi Davis
      (Senegal 1993-96)

      • Thank you Leita. We all come from what may appear different backgrounds, but we are alike in our development of consciousness and conscience, I believe, and what may see errors and mistakes along the way will have been our apprenticeships. We may think we must impersonate who we think we might or should be and we learn we don’t have to transform ourselves. What we do is find our true selves. We if we are lucky will find self-acceptance simply being ourselves.

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