The US Justice Department declined to investigate former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao after the DOT inspector general’s office found she may have misused her office, according to a report made public Wednesday.
The report, released by House lawmakers, found four “potential ethics concerns arising from the actions” of Chao and her staff under her direction.
Chao allegedly made plans to bring along family members to an official trip to China in November 2017. The trip was later canceled.
“DOT emails indicate that the Secretary directed her staff to include her relatives in both the planning of the 2017 trip to China and participation in the official events and high-level meetings during the trip,” inspector general’s report said.
The report included allegations that Chao tasked her staff with helping to market her father’s book and to research or buy personal items for her online with her personal credit card.
She also had staff reach out to the Department of Homeland Security to inquire about a work permit application of a foreign student who received a philanthropic award from the Chao family’s Foremost Foundation, the report alleges.
Last December, the findings were referred to the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which declined to open a criminal investigation.
“There may be ethical and/or administrative issues to address but there is not predication to open a criminal investigation,” prosecutors said, according to the report made public Wednesday.
Chao, who is married to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, could not immediately be reached for comment.
She was the first member of Trump’s cabinet to resign in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
McConnell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
With Post wires
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