By HOPE YEN, Related Press
The Transportation Division’s watchdog requested the Justice Division to criminally examine Elaine Chao late final 12 months after it decided she had misused her workplace when she was transportation secretary beneath President Donald Trump however was rebuffed, in response to a report launched Wednesday.
The report stated the Justice Division’s prison and public integrity divisions declined in December to take up the case for prison prosecution following the inspector normal’s findings that Chao inappropriately used her workers and workplace for private duties and to advertise a delivery enterprise owned by Chao’s father and sisters. That firm does intensive enterprise with China.
“A proper investigation into potential misuses of place was warranted,” deputy inspector normal Mitch Behm wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
Chao, the spouse of Senate Republican chief Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, stepped down from her job early this 12 months within the final weeks of the Trump administration, citing her disapproval over the Jan. 6 rebellion on the Capitol by Trump’s supporters.
Chao has denied wrongdoing. Within the report launched Wednesday, she didn’t particularly reply to allegations, as a substitute offering a September 2020 memo that argued selling her household was an acceptable a part of her official duties on the division.
“Asian audiences welcome and reply positively to actions by the secretary that embrace her father in actions when acceptable,” that memo stated.
The watchdog report cited a number of situations that raised moral issues. In a single, Chao instructed political appointees within the division to contact the Homeland Safety Division to verify personally on the standing of a piece allow software for a pupil who was a recipient of her household’s philanthropic basis.
Chao additionally made intensive plans for an official journey to China in November 2017 — earlier than she canceled it — that will have included stops at locations that had obtained help from her household’s enterprise, the New York-based Foremost Group. In line with division emails, Chao directed her workers to incorporate her family within the official occasions and high-level conferences through the journey.
“Above all, let’s preserve (the Secretary) glad,” one of many division’s staff wrote to a different staffer relating to Chao’s father. “If Dr. Chao is glad, then we must be flying with a feather in our hat.”
The report discovered that Chao additionally directed the division’s public affairs workers to help her father within the advertising and marketing of his private biography and to edit his Wikipedia web page, and used workers to verify on repairs of an merchandise at a retailer for her father.
The IG report stated Justice Division officers in the end declined to take up a prison assessment, saying there “could also be moral and/or administrative points” however no proof to help doable prison fees.
Because of this, the inspector normal’s workplace stated within the report it was now closing its investigation “based mostly on the dearth of prosecutorial curiosity” from the Justice Division.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, chairman of the Home transportation committee, who requested the investigation, expressed disappointment that the assessment was not accomplished and launched whereas Chao was nonetheless in workplace.
“Public servants, particularly these chargeable for main tens of 1000’s of different public servants, should know that they serve the general public and never their household’s non-public industrial pursuits,” he stated.
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