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 ChaoBottom line Democrats to probe Trump's replacement of top Transportation Dept. watchdog OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump orders cuts in regulations that 'inhibit economic recovery' | Green group calls for Energy secretary to step down over 'redlining' comment | Daily carbon emissions drop 17 percent 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation COVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks 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.