Politico

Republicans accuse Oversight Democrats of trying to ‘smear’ Elaine Chao

The two top Republicans in charge of oversight in the House are tearing into their Democratic counterparts, suggesting they are attempting to “smear” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao with a politically motivated investigation into whether she’s abused her office.

A letter sent this week by Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) suggested the probe, initiated by House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), was “nothing more than an attempt to manufacture controversy to smear Secretary Chao and her family.”

“You did not consult Republicans prior to sending your letter and so we have no insight to what due diligence — if any — informed your inquiry,” Jordan and Meadows wrote in their letter to Cummings.

They also suggested the probe simply rehashed old allegations and that it cherry-picked information that was helpful to Democrats’ political objectives.

Oversight Democrats did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meadows and Jordan were upset about a letter Oversight Democrats sent to Chao last week asking for documentation related to allegations in reports by The New York Times, POLITICO and The Wall Street Journal about ways in which she has potentially used her office to benefit her family’s shipping company. Some of these reports also examined her failure to divest from Vulcan Materials Co. within her promised timeframe.

“We understand that the Department intends to respond to your request but we found this matter egregious enough to raise with you directly,” Jordan and Meadows wrote. “This is not the first time that you have used cherry-picked information to attack the Trump Administration.”

The Republican members said the investigation “recycled allegations“ from news reports without including DOT’s response. For example, they wrote, Cummings didn’t acknowledge the agency’s rebuttal that those reports merely wove together “a web of innuendos and baseless inferences“ or note the fact that DOT‘s ethics official had said Chao’s financial holdings did not present a conflict of interest.

In response to the Oversight investigation of Chao, DOT said last week that it “[looks] forward to responding to the committee’s request“ and said, “Media attacks targeting the secretary’s family are stale and only attempt to undermine her long career of public service.”

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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