Nonpartisan oversight group Restore Public Trust sued the Department of Transportation (DOT) on Monday for documents related to Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoSaluting FOIA on its birthday House passes bill to strengthen authority of federal watchdogs Biden at Sen. John Warner's funeral: He 'gave me confidence' MORE's communications with her family’s shipping company.
The suit, filed by American Oversight, comes in response to a New York Times report detailing connections between Foremost Group and Chao's husband Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat Biden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan MORE (R-Ky.) and the Trump administration.
“Americans deserve to know the extent to which Secretary Elaine Chao worked behind the scenes to prop up her family’s company, potentially enriching herself through them at the American taxpayers’ expense,” Kyle Herrig, senior adviser to Restore Public Trust, said in a statement.
“The federal government has been stonewalling us for months, refusing to hand over documents they are legally mandated to make public. Now we know why. Secretary Chao has been secretly promoting her family’s company in an industry she is charged with overseeing, and she is still trying to hide the truth,” he said.
Restore Public Trust filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in December 2018 seeking copies of correspondence between DOT employees including search terms related to the Foremost Group.
The DOT acknowledged that they received the request but never fulfilled it, according to Restore Public Trust.
The group filed a FOIA request related to Chao's travel expenses in March that was similarly acknowledged but not fulfilled, according to the lawsuit.
The DOT did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.