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

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoMnuchin, Pompeo mulled plan to remove Trump after Jan. 6: book Saluting FOIA on its birthday House passes bill to strengthen authority of federal watchdogs 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 McConnellRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season 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 TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips 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.