Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Dale Gilles (Liberia 1964-66)
Transport Secretary Elaine Chao could be in for a bumpy ride after The Wall Street Journal reported that she still owns stock in a road-paving company, more than a year after she promised to get rid of it. Chao’s holdings are in Vulcan Materials, which is the largest U.S. supplier of stone, sand, and gravel used in road-paving and building. The stock price has risen nearly 13 percent since April 2018, the month Chao said she would ditch the shares, meaning she’s gained more $40,000 since the promise was made. Shares valued at nearly $400,000 and were paid out to Chao in April 2018. They were given in compensation for her time on Vulcan’s board, before she was confirmed as secretary of transportation. Chao’s 2017 ethics agreement said she would receive a cash payout in April 2018 in exchange for the deferred share units, which would have severed her financial ties to the company. A DOT spokesman said the language of the 2017 ethics agreement “is being clarified to avoid confusion.”
Walter Shaub, a former director of the Office of Government Ethics, told the newspaper that he believes Chao’s failure to divest from her holdings in the company sent a message to other DOT staffers that ethics were not a major priority at the agency.
“If you look at her ethics agreement, it provides for a complete disentanglement of her interest from Vulcan Materials, and that’s what was represented to the Senate,” he reportedly said. “For the head of the DOT to have a financial interest in an asphalt company, that is not sending a message to employees of DOT that she is making ethics a priority.”
Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.