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"secretary chao mitch mcconnell" Discussed on What Next | Daily News and Analysis
"Owensboro Kentucky got an eleven and a half million dollar grant from the department of transportation after years of lobbying. They I applied for a back when Obama was president. They got turned down. But when President Trump took office, the city's fortunes, changed it wasn't just that Mitch McConnell was looking out for them in the Senate. His wife, Elaine Chao had become secretary of transportation, and she'd hired a familiar face to be her chief of staff a guy named Todd Inman. Yeah. So we actually a watchdog group called American oversight got a trove of emails between US DOT the department of transportation and McConnell's office. And so many of them had taught in men's name on them. Todd Inman had been a Republican political campaign operative in Kentucky for many years, much of that, having to do with kind of advanced logistics for events, so kind of managing transportation and setting up events and things like that. He wasn't necessarily kind of doing high level strategy, so he had worked on McConnell's campaigns ended up on Elaine Chao staff at the department of transportation. So this guy Todd Inman, he'd worked for Mitch McConnell now. He's working for Elaine Chao at the department of transportation, I guess we should explain the fact that Mitch McConnell is married to Elaine Chow and talk a little bit about how common or uncommon that is in Washington. Yeah. So weirdly, this exempts situation has happened before Robert Dole was the Senate majority leader and his wife, Elizabeth Dole was the secretary of transportation. So this exact situation and Elaine Chao herself had been in the cabinet before and Mitch McConnell was in the Senate, but not the head of the Senate. So it is unusual. And this is something that we had been interested in since she was nominated for this position. How would this work? How what are the kind of hazard areas when you have a secretary of a major cabinet agency, especially one that Dole's out discretionary grants? Most cabinet agencies don't have kind of buckets of money that they are spreading around the country at their own discretion. So you have this very unique situation where she is married to the Senate majority leader. So you know what kind of firewalls? Do you set up? We'll kind of guardrails, do you put around that to make sure that there is no conflict of interest that there is no way that anyone could even accuse you of punt flicked of interest. I mean, this is such a strange situation in. An obvious time that you need just be extra cautious and make sure that you're really crossing every t dotting every I and what we found is that they just didn't even try. Elaine Chao hired several McConnell staffers, former McConnell staffers from campaigns or his actual staff. And, you know they were in her inner circle at the department of transportation and one of them was this guy. Todd Inman, who had these deep ties to Kentucky. Some people think he wants to go back and run for office, again, in Kentucky and made it really clear in his Email correspondence with Kentucky officials that they should go through kind of normal channels when they have a request of some kind, but they should also send it to him so that he can fly directly to the secretary. So it was this much more direct channel to the top. And he said that the secretary had asked for that, you know, maybe he was grandstanding. Maybe he was just sort of saying, like, hey, you know, hometown folks, let me, let me know if you run into any trouble in help you out, and I think that we can assume that some of that happens all the time. And some of that is normal. And some of that is nice, but again, in terms of the ethicists that I spoke to for this article in terms of how they would really make sure that this was as clean as possible, that they would have taken precautions round things like that. You know, you mentioned that Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao at kind of been in this situation before back when Elaine Chao was heading up the department of labor were there, any guardrails, then I think it was really different, partly because Mitch McConnell was not was not majority leader and was, in fact only became minority leader at the end of her tenure but beyond that, at the department of labor, they're just not giving out money in that kind of way that they do at the department of transportation. So I think that your potential for, for some kind of conflict of interest is probably a lot lower. It isn't necessarily wrong to help your constituents excess government grant money. The department of transportation helps local governments revise their applications all the time. But looking at these emails, it was the way this work was getting done with McConnell's office in direct communication, with his wife's staff. You know, this is, especially as the secretaries just coming into office, and just sort of getting her staff set up that a lot of this was happening, but a lot of Kentucky organizations were going to McConnell and saying, you know, with a request speaking, request or meeting request for Elaine shower her staff. And so, you know, that, that is not something I don't think that anyone would have gone to rand Paul or some other member of the Kentucky congressional delegation. I think that, that relationship of people going to McConnell and asking for a favor vis-a-vis the department of transportation was explicitly because of that, that relationship because they're married. And so, that, you know, some of that was was as she was just coming in, and, you know, likely still getting her staff set up, but it continued for a while. While in definitely, there was a, a back and forth with the McConnell people saying, you know, would you please make this kind of meeting happen, or help this person with this request? You know, Elaine knows them their friends, and in some cases when we go back and look beyond those people who have donated to Mitch McConnell for years, how did officials in Owens, bro. Talk about their relationship with the DOT and how it had changed underlain show. Yeah my coworker. Tucker Doherty went to Owens borough and talk to the mayor and talk to the county, judge executive, which is kind of the, you know, the top executive in the county and they were really clear that the, the county judge executive, especially that having Todd Inman on the inside their local guy. He kept calling them, our local guy that he has Elaine Chao Tzee ear twenty four seven. And, you know, when there are ten projects that they're trying to decide them on, you know, and we've got this low. Local guy on the inside with the secretaries year like you tell me what, what kind of impact is that going to have. So I think he was really clear that, that was there in, and when they got the grant, and they did a public press conference. They thanked, you know, secretary Chao Mitch McConnell. Todd Inman for making it all happen..