Elaine Chao: No Nepotism to See Here!

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Elaine Chao is the rare Donald Trump cabinet official who has largely escaped scrutiny, despite her own hairy ethical practices—including, but not limited to, serving in Donald Trump’s administration. Chao’s latest shady episode comes in the form of an accusation of nepotism, as the transportation secretary defended the recent nomination of her brother-in-law, Gordon Hartogensis, to head the Labor Department’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. This is despite Hartogenesis having little relevant experience in that area outside of ... managing his own family’s trust fund.

Chao insisted to the Washington Post’s Robert Costa on Thursday that she had no influence in the nomination of Hartogensis, who is married to her sister Grace Chao. She insisted to Costa that “Secretary Acosta made the selection and hired him, and I think he’s an excellent choice. I don’t think anybody’s relations or relatives should be held against them—certainly not me.”

Chao went on to defend Hartogensis’ credentials, which include a “patriotic fervor to want to serve our country” and the fact that he is “unbeholden to any interest group” because he has no apparent experience in the industry at all. Also on the list: he “went to Stanford,” was “valedictorian of his high school class,” and “retired before the age of 29 because of his great success,” the last of which coincidentally is the same thing I plan to say to my mother when I am unemployed at 29 after the media industry has collapsed.


Chao concluded the defense of her brother-in-law—whose connections to she and her husband Mitch McConnell definitely had no part in his nomination—by saying, “I want there to be harmony at the Thanksgiving dinner table.” Ha ha! Get it? Because all those people will be at the same Thanksgiving dinner table together. No nepotism to see here!

Clio Chang is a staff writer at Splinter.

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