Transportation Secretary Chao sells stock in Vulcan after pledge to divest by 2018

Transportation Secretary Chao sells stock in Vulcan after pledge to divest by 2018
© Greg Nash

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoPence aide: Trump's 'intent' wasn't racist Pence praises 'generous' US immigration system at July 4 naturalization ceremony 2020 candidate Tim Ryan questions Trump administration about planned July 4 event cost MORE reportedly sold her holdings of a paving-materials company. 

Chao sold her shares of Vulcan Materials Co. June 3, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing documents submitted to the Office of Government Ethics.

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The newspaper previously reported that Chao did not fulfill her 2017 promise to divest from Vulcan by April 2018. It noted that Vulcan's shares rose more than 16 percent while they were in her possession, resulting in more than $50,000 in earnings. 

The paper reported that Chao's personal financial filing said that Chao was advised by ethics officials that her holdings in Vulcan and another company, Ingersoll Rand PLC, did not represent a conflict of interest, but that she sold them "thus no longer retaining a financial interest in the company, as indicated in the filer’s ethics agreement.”

She wrote in a letter to an ethics official that she would still hold her shares in Wells Fargo & Co., but recuse herself from issues directly involving its finances, according to the Journal. 

An ethics agreement she signed in 2017 reportedly said she would get a “cash payout” for the stocks in case of a real or perceived conflict of interest. 

Top transportation ethics official Judith Kaleta reportedly said in a letter to the Office of Government Ethics that the agreement “contained inadvertent misstatements of fact … based on information provided by the nominee’s accountant.” She also said that Chao's holdings were not a conflict of interest. 

A Department of Transportation spokesperson confirmed The Journal's reporting to The Hill. The spokesperson also said in a statement  that holding stock in Ingersoll Rand and Vulcan Materials does not create a conflict of interest. 

"Although not required to, the Secretary has sold these stocks, and as a result she has no financial interest in the companies," the spokesperson said in the statement. "The Secretary’s decision to divest entirely demonstrates her commitment to going above and beyond what is required in terms of compliance."