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

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoTaiwan’s President Tsai should be invited to address Congress White House announces reduced delegation to travel to Davos amid shutdown Hillicon Valley: Dem blasts groups behind Senate campaign disinformation effort | FCC chief declines to give briefing on location-data sales | Ocasio-Cortez tops lawmakers on social media | Trump officials to ease drone rules 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 McConnellDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress Juan Williams: America needs radical solutions 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 TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration 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.