C.R.E.A.M. Open Thread: The McConnell-Chao Marriage Is *Mutually* Profitable

Guess it’s nice for the GOP senators who’ve handed their balls over to Mitch to know that, should his Russian funding ever dry up, he won’t be reduced to peddling his memoirs to support his lifestyle:

The Transportation Department under Secretary Elaine Chao designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities from her husband Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $78 million for favored projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection.

Chao’s aide Todd Inman, who stated in an email to McConnell’s Senate office that Chao had personally asked him to serve as an intermediary, helped advise the senator and local Kentucky officials on grants with special significance for McConnell — including a highway-improvement project in a McConnell political stronghold that had been twice rejected for previous grant applications…

The circumstances surrounding the Owensboro grant and another, more lucrative grant to Boone County, highlight the ethical conflicts in having a powerful Cabinet secretary married to the Senate’s leader and in a position to help him politically. McConnell has long touted his ability to bring federal resources to his state, which his wife is now in a position to assist.

Chao’s designation of Inman as a special intermediary for Kentucky — a privilege other states did not enjoy — gave a special advantage to projects favored by her husband, which could in turn benefit his political interests. In such situations, ethicists say, each member of a couple benefits personally from the success of the other…

(Much more at the link. As with so many similar one-man pork projects, the money seems to have drained away on ‘showpiece’ architectural projects that benefited a small cadre of connected businessmen without providing much assistance to the voters who really needed some help.)

The power couple isn’t particulary covert about their money-spinning prowess. Bess Levin, at Vanity Fair:

Last week, the New York Times reported that the secretary tried to bring family members to government meetings with Chinese officials, despite said family members having major financial entanglements in China. Last month, the Wall Street Journal found that she’d made a $40,000 profit on her stake in Vulcan, the nation’s largest construction materials supplier, despite having promised—over a year ago!—to divest from the company, on whose board she sat…

Cole linked to the NYTimes article when it appeared, but seriously: Can you imagine the outrage if a Democratic Senator’s wife did anything like this?

Ms. Chao is the top Trump official overseeing the American shipping industry, which is in steep decline and overshadowed by its Chinese competitors.

Her efforts on behalf of the family business — appearing at promotional events, joining her father in interviews with Chinese-language media — have come as Foremost has interacted with the Chinese state to a remarkable degree for an American company.

Foremost has received hundreds of millions of dollars in loan commitments from a bank run by the Chinese government, whose policies have been labeled by the Trump administration as threats to American security. The company’s primary business — delivering China’s iron ore and coal — is intertwined with industries caught up in a trade war with the United States. That dispute stems in part from the White House’s complaints that China is flooding the world with subsidized steel, undermining American producers.

Foremost, though a relatively small company in its sector, is responsible for a large portion of orders at one of China’s biggest state-funded shipyards, and has secured long-term charters with a Chinese state-owned steel maker as well as global commodity companies that guarantee it steady revenues…

Since Elaine Chao became transportation secretary, records show, the agency budget has repeatedly called to cut programs intended to stabilize the financially troubled maritime industry in the United States, moving to cut new funding for federal grants to small commercial shipyards and federal loan guarantees to domestic shipbuilders.

Her agency’s budget has also tried to slash spending for a grant program that helps keep 60 American-flagged ships in service, and has tried to scale back plans to buy new ships that would train Americans as crew members. (In China, Ms. Chao’s family has paid for scholarships and a ship simulator to train Chinese seamen.)

Congress, in bipartisan votes, has rejected the budget cuts, some of which have been offered up again for next year. One opponent of the cuts has been Representative Alan Lowenthal, a California Democrat whose district includes one of the nation’s largest cargo ports.

“The Chinese government is massively engaged in maritime expansion as we have walked away from it,” he said in an interview. “There is going to come a crisis, and we are going to call upon the U.S. maritime industry, and it is not going to be around.”…

Future historians, assuming there are any, are gonna roll their eyes at the national naivete that allowed us to consider the Harding administration as the American oligarchy’s worst abuse of the public treasury.

49 replies
  1. 1
    Lapassionara says:

    If any Dem had done this, it would lead the news coverage for weeks if not months.

  2. 2
    Gin & Tonic says:

    In case anyone cares, it’s being reported that Ivan Golunov has been freed and cleared of all charges (he’s an investigative reporter in Russia who was arrested on clearly-faked drug charges.)

  3. 3
    chris says:

    Keeping up with the grifting is exhausting! One does have to wonder if there is a counterintelligence investigation going on behind the scenes. Chao doesn’t seem to have the best interests of the US in mind as she takes an axe to the shipping industry. And Mitch’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat.

  4. 4
    chris says:

    Drat! In moderation for fat fingered email.

  5. 5
    SFAW says:


    If any Dem had done this, it would lead the news coverage for weeks if not months.

    Oh, bullshit.

    If any Dem were ever falsely accused of any of this shit, it would lead the news coverage for weeks if not months.
    If the distant relative of any Dem had ever done this, it would lead the news coverage for weeks if not months.
    If any Dem had actually done anything one-tenth as bad as this, it would lead the news coverage for months if not years.

  6. 6
    kindness says:

    IOKIYAAR. Obviously. Just imagine if Obama had brought his Kenyan clan along for the ride.

  7. 7
    SFAW says:

    Oh, and forget the “Cocaine Mitch” nickname, that’s chump change. On the other hand, it’s sure looking like his “wife” is a Chinese asset

  8. 8
    chris says:

    @Gin & Tonic: That’s good news. Did he walk or was he carried out? The guardian didn’t say.

  9. 9
    tokyokie says:

    I’d like to see both members of the loving couple indicted, just to see how madly they scramble to rat out each other, with McTurtle rolling out GOP bagmen and Chao receiving aid from Chinese spy agencies.

  10. 10
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @chris: All I see is that he was freed from house arrest and the criminal case was dropped.

  11. 11
    rikyrah says:

    Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) Tweeted:
    While McConnell refuses to work on an infrastructure bill for the country, his own state gets special access to new projects because Trump appointed his wife to run the Department of Transportation.

    A corrupt party that only takes care of themselves.

    https://t.co/Oy1q37429z https://twitter.com/jonfavs/status/1138086048616144899?s=17

  12. 12
    Lapassionara says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Let us hope he remains accident-free and has a long, productive career.

  13. 13
    Cacti says:

    The DOT is overdue for a House Oversight Committee investigation.

    After two years on the job, wifey also hasn’t divested her shares in a construction company that does business with her department.

    The R’s don’t even try to hide their corruption and self-dealing anymore.

  14. 14
    Gravenstone says:

    As if anyone aware of who these people are and their relationship to each other would be the least bit surprised at the blatant self enrichment. My only surprise is that it’s taken us into the latter half of Trump’s term for this to become public.

  15. 15
    germy says:

    In 2017, President Donald Trump criticized McConnell on Twitter, after McConnell said the White House had unrealistic expectations for Congress. Soon after, reporters asked Chao what she thought of Trump’s comments and she said: “I stand by my man — both of them.”



  16. 16
    Just Chuck says:

    This is a constitutional crisis: one person controlling an entire arm of congress (that alone should qualify) that is blocking investigations into not only his own party, but his own self and family. Can the House act on this? Is there any precedent for one arm of Congress investigating the other?

  17. 17
    MattF says:

    Ah, well. I’ve been wondering where the money was. And yeah, folks, there’s always a money angle, and don’t let anyone suggest otherwise. Persist, until the truth comes out.

  18. 18
    Cacti says:

    @Just Chuck:

    The investigation should be of the Department of Transportation. The House is entirely within its Constitutional authority if it starts on this basis.

  19. 19
    chris says:

    This is how you do it. Canada woman!

    Topless woman shuts down anti-abortion protest.

  20. 20
    boatboy_srq says:

    @germy: “Unrealistic expectations” would cover both the tRump pResidency and McTurtle’s entire career. The shortsighted avarice is remarkable for its scope, its blatancy and its Republicanism.

  21. 21
    mrmoshpotato says:

    Can you imagine the outrage if a Democratic Senator’s wife did anything like this?

    Can you imagine the outrage if a Democratic president lied about a consensual blowjob?

    Oh wait…

    Fucking hypocritical Rethuglical assholes.

  22. 22
    zhena gogolia says:


    I loved the coverage of Hillary Clinton’s deceased brother and his terrible “scandal” that would be just the pre-coffee offhand business deal on any given day for these crooks.

  23. 23
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Cacti: Realising that DOT is one of the bigger, juicier potential troves of dirt, is there any Executive branch entity undeserving of investigation and oversight at this point?

  24. 24
    Joy in FL says:

    @Gin & Tonic: I do care, and I’m glad to know that Ivan Golunov has been freed and cleared of all charges. That is good news.
    Thank you for posting about it.

  25. 25
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @tokyokie: Would be great to watch these fuckers destroy each other. Chuck Todd would find a way to blame the Clintons however.

  26. 26
    Mart says:

    In case wondering why iron ore and coal go together to China… Coal is converted to coke in ovens (coke~charcoal). The coke is used as fuel in blast furnaces to melt the iron ore, the first step in making virgin steel. Chao’s family is involved in dumping Chinese steel on us using our resources. Dude. That is whack.

  27. 27
    SFAW says:

    @zhena gogolia:
    I saw that she noted his passing, but didn’t see anything re: a “scandal.” [OK, I just looked it up. Sounds like chump change, compared to the daily/hourly grift run by any in this Maladministration.]

    I’m awaiting, breathlessly, the revelation that Elizabeth Warren’s second-cousin-once-removed was once married to someone who had once used a Teapot in the Dome of the Capitol building while sending e-mails to someone who knew how to spell “Benghazi” correctly. In the Study. With the Candlestick.

    Ipso facto, QED, and LS/MFT, Libtards!!!

  28. 28
    jonas says:

    Wow. That’s some insane fucking corruption. It’s not some improperly handled emails, granted, but still some pretty insane corruption.

  29. 29
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Mart: With business models like that, it’s no wonder Cindy Yang (the Mar-a-Lago Madam) got away with so much.

    Chao was crooked when she was at the DOT Maritime Administration in ’86, and again at DOL in 2001. This isn’t her first rodeo.

  30. 30


    The R’s don’t even try to hide their corruption and self-dealing anymore.

    IMO, this is the real GOP fault line that Trump has exposed: the one between people who want to keep the corruption hidden and the ones who want to parade it. On the one hand, hiding your corruption takes effort and makes everything harder. On the other hand, open corruption is much more likely to result in prosecution. Trump is basically testing the theory that it’s OK to be openly corrupt because the President can use the DOJ to protect himself and his cronies. If he’s successful, the corruption will only get worse. If he isn’t maybe we can scare some people into not even trying anymore.

  31. 31
    rikyrah says:

    EXCLUSIVE: First Family affair! Barack Obama, Michelle and Malia cheer on Sasha as she graduates from Sidwell, DC’s most elite private high school – and Uncle Joe Biden turns up too

    Barack, Michelle and Malia Obama cheered on Sasha as she graduated from high school on Sunday
    The former First Family was photographed by fellow graduates’ family members at Sidwell Friends School’s ceremony in Washington D.C.
    Sasha, who turned 18 on Monday, was seen in her Class of 2019 photo wearing a white dress
    She will reportedly attend the University of Michigan in the fall
    Joe Biden and his wife Jill were in attendance for the big day, also celebrating their granddaughter Maisy’s graduation from the prestigious school
    Sidwell has been welcoming presidents’ kids for years, including Malia Obama, Chelsea Clinton and some children of former presidents Eisenhower and Nixon
    Some parents of this year’s seniors have been accused of pushing the school’s staff to the limit to try to get their children into Ivy League colleges

    PUBLISHED: 11:11 EDT, 11 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:04 EDT, 11 June 2019

  32. 32
    rikyrah says:

    As a Black Man, I Understand Why Democrats Don’t Want to Impeach Trump

    Michael Harriot
    Today 9:00am

    Contrary to what most people think, almost every black person I know honestly believes in the noble ideals of America.

    We think it is self-evident that all men are created equal. The history of Africans in America is nothing if not the desperate, fruitless pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. We want to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, too. But something keeps preventing that from happening.

    That “something” is white people.

    Not all white people.

    While the apathetic, the nonplussed, the indifferent and fence-riding Caucasians might not necessarily hate black people, when push comes to shove, they will often choose to ignore racism for the sake of their own advancement. They already have the privilege of living in a nation that offers them liberty and justice for all. Even though they may believe in these ideals, they are unlikely to risk their place atop the mountaintop to help anyone else reach the summit.


    The reluctance of Democratic Party leaders to impeach Donald Trump is indicative of this incontrovertible truth. Nancy Pelosi and the mostly white party leadership is resisting the growing chorus of black voters calling for impeachment. And let’s be clear, it is a black chorus. A recent CNN national poll (pdf) shows that 59 percent of non-whites favor impeaching Trump while only 31 percent of whites do.

    Part of the reason for this is that—despite most Americans disapproving of the job he is doing as president—most white people are not substantively affected by Trump. Even if they disagree with his policies, their children aren’t being put in cages. They don’t have to deal with a Muslim travel ban. They aren’t being profiled as “black identity extremists.” No one asks for their citizenship papers. They are immune to the rise in hate crimes and right-wing violence.

  33. 33
    Jay says:

    For those interested, The Rectification of Names is turning parts of the Redacted Mueller Report into a narratalogical format.


  34. 34
    rikyrah says:

    DC Metro Snitch Who Lost Her Book Deal Is Suing Publisher for $13 Million

    Genetta M. Adams
    Saturday 11:48am

    Natasha Tynes, the author who lost her book deal after calling out a black female D.C. Metro employee for eating on the train by posting her photo on Twitter, is suing her publisher for $13 million, Buzzfeed News reports.

    In the lawsuit, Tynes alleges that the California-based publisher Rare Bird Books breached its contract and defamed her with false public statements, which led to “extreme emotional distress.” The suit claims that she was hospitalized after suffering chest pains and anxiety attacks and that she and her family had to flee the United States temporarily because of death threats.

  35. 35
    eemom says:


    Tsk tsk. Hotheads. Nancy knows what’s best for you.

  36. 36
    trnc says:

    Might be worth asking DT directly if he made Chao transportation secretary because Mitch explicitly guaranteed an acquittal for any impeachment trial. If someone asks every day, sooner or later, DT probably blurts out the real answer.

  37. 37
    Jay says:

    Yeah, it's even dumber than you thought. https://t.co/4TPakaF6bg— phillip anderson (@phillipanderson) June 11, 2019

  38. 38
    Jay says:


    Well, that didn’t go well, Twitter’s suspended Dave Neiwart for using the book cover he’s always used as a header graphic.

    It would be nice if Jack would get serious and stop blowing smoke up out asses.

  39. 39
    Jay says:

    Facebook Turned Off Search Features Used To Catch War Criminals, Child Predators, And Other Bad Actors

    The changes by Facebook are “a potential disaster for the human rights and war crimes community.”

    By Craig Silverman
    Posted on June 10, 2019, at 4:14 p.m. ET


  40. 40
    Emerald says:


    One does have to wonder if there is a counterintelligence investigation going on behind the scenes.

    I keep telling myself that there has to be a counterintelligence investigation going on, but the one that Mueller was supposedly doing somehow disappeared.

    And: with all the collusion (yeah, I’m using that word) Mueller found between Orangymandius and the Russians, how was he unable to fashion a conspiracy charge? He did it with mob bosses more than once in his career, and this essentially is the same thing.

    Was he stopped? Has the FBI and/or CIA been stopped?

  41. 41

    My assumption is Neiwart being banned is a result of a campaign against him. It’s pretty easy for an organized group to get somebody at least temporarily banned by coordinating their bad faith complaints. Their system is easy to game in the short term because it appears that it can be triggered by volume of complaints without any attempt to see if they’re justified. It will eventually be reversed when some human judgment is applied.

  42. 42
    Plato says:

    Onion has become america’s best news source indeed.

    Mitch McConnell Feeling Emasculated By Wife Who Makes More Illicit Money Than Him https://t.co/FHBWSVcdX0 pic.twitter.com/InLyLiCiDx— The Onion (@TheOnion) June 8, 2019

  43. 43
    chris says:

    @Emerald: I don’t know if they can be stopped if there is something to be investigated. Perhaps someone who knows more can tell us.

  44. 44
    Jay says:


    Key witnesses and suspects took the 5th, lied, misremembered deleted documents, communications and used encrypted methods.

    Mueller was also limited in what he could investigate, what he could bring as evidence and held to a strict standard of what he could charge and prove.

  45. 45
    Jay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Jack changed the algorythms a couple of days ago to “exclude” more Nazi content, and a bunch of anti-nazi researchers, activists and journalists have been banned. Dave Neiwart’s not the first.

  46. 46
    Seanly says:

    But, but, but earmarks are second only to single mothers as a signifier of our moral decay! I am shocked, shocked I tell ya, that McConnell-Choa would use their office improperly.

    For the record, KY probably has a lot of underfunded transportation projects. But surprise – every state does. Each year, ASCE (of which I am a member) tells us how many trillions of dollars more we need to spend just to maintain our crappy roads.

    I was once discussing our lack of infrastructure spending with a friend & he got all indignant about ASCE always saying we need to spend money on infrastructure. He contended that since we civil engineers work on infrastructure, we have a vested interest in saying we need to spend money on it. Therefore, someone else should report on it. Yes, I do have a vested interest, but I don’t ask my plumber to evaluate my teeth or my dentist to look at my leaking toilet.

  47. 47
    lurker dean says:

    i saw that mcconnell is playing this off as only a few small contracts in the grand scheme of things. i’m wondering if there will be any investigation or if this is just the way we are now. oversight doesn’t seem to be doing anything effective, even putting aside impeachment.

  48. 48
    Mike G says:

    I wonder if Turtle is compromised, a willing traitor or just corrupt AF.

  49. 49
    J R in WV says:

    @Mike G:

    I wonder if Turtle is compromised, a willing traitor or just corrupt AF.

    Why not all three?

    How does that go in Spanish? Por que no los tres??

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