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

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil Kathy Griffin offers her guesses on anti-Trump op-ed author A fuel-economy change that protect freedom and saves lives 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 McConnellKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump hints at new executive action on immigration, wants filibuster-proof Senate majority The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump 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 TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada 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.