The family of Elaine Chao, former transportation secretary and wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has extensive financial ties to China’s government, Peter Schweizer, author of Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, noted on Friday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow.
On Tuesday, the Transportation Department’s inspector general sent a letter outlining its investigation of allegations that Chao used her office and staff to help benefit her family’s international shipping business.
The Foremost Group is a shipping business founded by James Chao, Elaine Chao’s father. The family business primarily revolves around China, necessitating the ties between the Chao family and China’s political elites. The China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), a subsidiary of China’s largest defense contractor, manufactures ships for the Foremost Group.
“[Elaine Cho’s] father, James Chao, runs a shipping company along with [her] sister, Angela Chao,” Schweizer said of the Foremost Group. “That business has very close ties to the Chinese government, meaning that the Chinese government finances the construction of the ships that they use, provides the crews, they build the ships, [and] they provide the contracts. So there’s a very serious concern there about possible Chinese influence on the McConnell-Chao family.”
Schweizer described the alleged conflicts of interest around Chao between her former role as transportation secretary and her family’s ship-building and shipping business.
“The allegation in the IG report is [that] she organized an official trip as the transportation secretary to China in November of 2017,” Schweizer said. “Her plans, until they were scuttled by people at the Department of Transportation, was to bring her father and her sister with her on the official trip, and they were going to visit, among other places, institutions in which the family had business dealings.”
Chao also alleged to have used her former position as transportation secretary to help promote a memoir her father wrote.
“[Elaine Chao] was using Department of Transportation — that is taxpayer-funded people — to promote his book,” Schweizer remarked. “This is a book that was released in China, that was the primary audience.”
Schweizer explained, “Her father had a book that was released in mainland China, kind of his life story. James Chao is oftentimes identified as being from Taiwan. He’s actually from mainland China, and he was classmates with a guy named Jiang Zemin, who ended up being the leader of China 20-something years ago, and that’s really why he was so juiced in [to the Chinese government].”
“This family is fused closely to the Chinese government,” Schweizer stated. “In fact, her sister, Angela Chao, is one of the few foreign nationals that sits on the board of the Bank of China, which is the biggest bank — and most important bank — as far as Chinese economic statecraft is concerned.”
Angela Chao — Elaine Chao’s sister and Mitch McConnell’s sister-in-law — was appointed to the Bank of China’s board of directors ten days after 2016’s presidential election.
Schweizer previously framed McConnell’s “increasingly soft” political positioning towards China as a function of his familial and financial ties to the Chinese state.
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