Elaine Chao Sought ‘Inappropriate’ China Meeting for Her Family

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao requested to hold “alarmingly inappropriate” meetings with members of her family—which runs an American shipping company—and Chinese government officials, an investigation by The New York Times shows. In October 2017, Chao reportedly asked federal officials to help arrange travel to China for at least one family member and have them included in meetings with officials. “She had these relatives who were fairly wealthy and connected to the shipping industry,” said a State Department official. “Their business interests were potentially affected by meetings.” The trip was reportedly canceled by Chao after ethics concerns were raised with the State and Transportation Departments. The company, Foremost Group, does most of its business with China, and is contracted to haul for Beijing’s coal and iron-ore industries. Chao has no formal role at the company but she and her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), have received millions of dollars in gifts from her father, James, who ran the company until last year. Foremost has reportedly received hundreds of millions of dollars in loan commitments from a bank run by the Chinese government.