Transportation secretary defends brother-in-law’s nomination to lead pension agency

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoMcConnell: I won't be intimidated by protesters Protesters confront McConnell leaving Kentucky restaurant The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Wild night of primaries reshapes 2018 midterms MORE on Thursday defended the nomination of her brother-in-law, Gordon Hartogensis, to lead a federal pension agency. 

"It is true that he is my brother-in-law, but Secretary Acosta made the selection and hired him, and I think he's an excellent choice," Chao told The Washington Post's Robert Costa when asked whether she played a role in recommending Hartogensis's nomination. Hartogensis is the brother-in-law of Chao and her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDoug Jones walks tightrope on Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh gets questionnaires for confirmation hearing Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (R-Ky.).

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"I don't think anybody's relations or relatives should be held against them, certainly not me," she continued. 

Hartogensis, who is married to Chao's sister, was nominated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE last month to lead the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which protects federal insurance on private-sector pension plans. 

"Mr. Hartogensis is an investor and technology sector leader with experience managing financial equities, bonds, private placements, and software development," the White House said in a statement last month. 

The PBGC sustains payments on single- and multiemployer pension plans, even after employers terminate workers' plans. 

The agency is running on a multibillion-dollar deficit between assets and liabilities and is expected to become insolvent by 2025, according to Bloomberg.