Trump doesn’t appear to be at a loss for words, except when it comes to his ever mounting scandals. He tweets about the NFL, Puerto Rico’s disaster, and really anything else that comes to his mind, yet he’s silent about the issues within his cabinet.
Just last week HHS Secretary Tom Price resigned for inappropriate taxpayer-funded private charter flights, and now Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao – who is the wife of Mitch McConnell – could very well be next.
Elaine Chao is no stranger to scandals, as she already had a long history even before Donald Trump picked her to be his Secretary of Transportation, which has been said was simple a move by Trump to ensure Mitch McConnell’s loyalty.
Chao has found herself, once again, in the middle of a scandal. When she took the cabinet position pointed to her by Trump, she resigned from the board of a company called Vulcan Materials, but she decided to keep six figures worth of stock in the company.
Chao kept $300,000 of deferred stock awards in a transportation construction company after resigning from its board when Trump appointed her.
Shares in the company — Vulcan Materials — climbed to a 10-year high in the days following Trump’s election and have hovered there since, reflecting investors’ optimism that the company’s business and the construction sector will benefit from a federally funded infrastructure package.
Why does it matter?
Because as the Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao gets to decide where U.S. taxpayer dollars go for infrastructure projects, which means she can put taxpayer money right into the pockets of Vulcan Materials, which would in turn make herself richer as a big stock holder.
Chao’s refusal to get rid of the stock, and to recuse herself from any decisions that point government business to the company, strongly suggests she may have corrupt intentions with her government position and her stock ownership.
This is why cabinet members are expected to separate themselves from their companies and other business interests before taking their positions. Clearly, most of Trump’s administration was just praying no one would notice and it’s finally catching up to them.
Chao can’t sell her stock now because she acquired it when she was on the board of directors. This means she would have to step down or forfeit the stock in its entirety. It’s clear that with Trump’s people, cash is king so we can predict which way she will lean.