The researchers noted several issues that could arise. The report said Department of Transportation officials were ordered to help promote Elder Chao’s biography and maintain his list of awards. It also noted evidence that the department’s former director of public affairs has drafted and launched a media and public relations strategy to build his profile.
Chao also tapped public workers for private events such as arranging Christmas ornaments, researchers said.
US Attorney̵7;s Office “Given that there may be ethical and / or administrative issues But no criminal investigation is expected to open, ”said investigators from the Office of the Inspector General.
The IG office also said it examined allegations that Chao had improperly directed the resource to Kentucky, where her husband, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) represented in the Senate. But found no evidence of that
Chao and her supporters pointed to an area where the inspector general found no wrongdoing as an endorsement of her regulatory approach.
“This report expels ministers from unfounded allegations and closes a book on the year’s election efforts to make her historic career as the first Asian-American woman to be elected. Appointed to the President’s Cabinet and has her outstanding track record, ”a Chao spokesman said in a statement.
The spokesperson declined to respond to potential ethical issues identified by the Inspector General, rather than pointing to Republican-sponsored comments in Congress, including Rep. James Comer ( R-Ky.), Who said in a statement, the report “made it clear that the attacks on Democrats launched against former Secretary-General Chao were unfounded.”
Researchers explain the ethical issues that may arise.
As secretary, Chao ordered a political appointee to contact the Department of Homeland Security about “the status of work applications submitted by international students studying at a US university who are benefactors of the Chao family.” According to the investigators
Investigators said Chao spent time on staff in the department for personal matters.
Among them, according to the investigator’s description, Chao emailed staff in her office with the subject line “Christmas ornaments”. Chow and my sister Please sketch a note – let me take a look to tell them what we are sending. “
Investigators also raised concerns about Chao appearing together in a video with her father.
The video raised particular concern, “as the secretary was presented to informal matters such as management’s transportation priorities as well as her father’s written biographical commentary,” according to the letter. Of Deputy Inspector General Mitch Behem to Representative Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, DeFazio was one of those in Congress who requested an investigation.
He praised the Inspectorate’s Office for their investigation. But said it was disappointed that it was not released while Chau was in office and the Justice Department had not pursued the matter.
“Public servants, especially those responsible for bringing in tens of thousands of other public servants, must know that they serve the public, not the personal commercial interests of their families,” DeFazio said in a statement.
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, also requested an investigation.
The Inspector General’s report and other documents obtained by congressional investigators “show that Secretary-General Chao uses the taxpayer’s official position and resources for the benefit of herself and her family,” Maloney said in a statement. The statement “blatantly violent violations of her office is further evidence that further ethical and transparency reforms are needed.”
The Inspectorate’s Office said Chao was given the opportunity to respond to ethical concerns, pointing to a memorandum of agreement drafted by Department of Transportation general counsel Steven Bradbury and given to investigators.
The September 2020 memo titled “The Importance of Asia’s Cultural Values to the Success and Effectiveness of Secretary General Elaine L. Chao,” said the researchers, written by Bradbury and reviewed by Chao and two other department staff.
“As the eldest daughter, she is expected to take on leadership roles in family occasions that honor her late father and mother,” the record reads if she neglects to speak of her living parents. “Her reputation and exaltation as a government official will be greatly diminished in the eyes of Asian and Asian Americans.”
Bradbury, according to investigators, said: “Secretary Chao could not be divorced from her father’s story and this idea is important to keep in mind. But it does not excuse all issues discussed with OIG, such as the use of subordinates to perform the duties of a private secretary, ”according to a report published on Wednesday.