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Group sues for docs on Elaine Chao's communications with family company

Group sues for docs on Elaine Chao's communications with family company
© Greg Nash

Nonpartisan oversight group Restore Public Trust sued the Department of Transportation (DOT) on Monday for documents related to Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoTravel industry calls on Trump administration to prevent the need for quarantines by creating a testing plan Century of the Woman: Can Leading Women Have it All? Female lawmakers, officials call for more women at all levels of government to improve equity 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 McConnellBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Trump blasts Obama speech for Biden as 'fake' after Obama hits Trump's tax payments White House hoping for COVID-19 relief deal 'within weeks': spokeswoman 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.

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“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.