During his campaign Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” and rid Washington of of political insiders who’ve rigged the system. Yet one by one, as president-elect Trump nominates the leaders of his new administration, the swamp seems to be overflowing. So we created the Swamp-O-Meter for each nominee that takes into account the number of years as a politician or working in Washington, net worth, connections to big money, personal conflicts of interest, and any history of racist and homophobic behavior.
Elaine Chao, nominee for Secretary of Transportation, is a 3 out of 5 on the Swamp-O-Meter. She’s embodied the establishment throughout her work in the federal government for nearly 10 years, is a multi-millionaire, kicked off her career by working for the banks and has been a member of the Wells Fargo Board of Directors since 2011.
5 ways Elaine Chao’s history shows Trump is walking back his campaign promises to workers
During the campaign, President-elect Donald Trump promised that “Under a Trump presidency, the American worker will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them.” However, his choice of Elaine Chao as transportation secretary—a former Wall Street bigwig who failed workers and attacked unions during her time as President George W. Bush’s secretary of labor—shows that he’s not going to keep his promises.
- Elaine Chao is yet another anti-worker and anti-union nominee for the Trump administration.
While Chao was labor secretary, the Bush administration invoked the Taft-Hartley Act for the first time since 1971 to prevent a longshoremen union’s protest—after Chao failed to negotiate a contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. And Chao is proud of her anti-union record. In fact, shortly after her term as labor secretary, she bragged about her crackdowns on unions in an essay for the Heritage Foundation.
- Chao’s Department of Labor failed to enforce minimum wage, overtime, and other labor laws.
Chao’s Labor Department underwent auditing by the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, which found many cases of the agency failing to protect workers. For example, when an auditor posing as a dishwasher called the Department of Labor to report not being paid overtime for 19 weeks, Chao’s agency did not respond for four months and further delayed investigating the case.
- As secretary of labor under President George W. Bush, Chao and her agency “left thousands of actual victims of wage theft … with nowhere to turn,” accordingto the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office.
The GAO report found that, under Chao, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division mishandled 90 percent of the cases that GAO auditors, posing as workers, reported to the agency. Chao’s agency failed to investigate a complaint of underage children working during school hours at a dangerous meat-packing plant. It also found that many complaints to Elaine Chao’s department were never even recorded in the Wage and Hour Division database. The GAO concluded that the Wage and Hour Division of Chao’s Department of Labor mishandled more-serious labor cases 19 percent of the time.
- Chao’s nomination creates a conflict of interest since she is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who says he will not recuse himselffrom her confirmation vote.
The Senate has to confirm Chao’s nomination for her to serve as secretary of transportation. The Senate is also conveniently led by Chao’s husband, who isn’t planning on sitting out her confirmation process. It remains unclear if, as secretary, Chao would negotiate directly with her husband while trying to pass Trump’s agenda through Congress.
- Like many others in Trump’s administration, Chao has significant ties to big banks.
Chao was the vice president of Bank of America and an international banker at Citicorp. Chao has been a member of the Wells Fargo board of directors since 2011.
How you can #ResistChao
The secretary of transportation must be confirmed by a majority of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and a majority vote on the floor of the Senate.
Call, write, or tweet Sens. John Thune (R-SD) (202.224.2321), Roy Blunt (R-MO) (202.224.5721), Deb Fischer (R-NE) (202.224.6551), Dan Sullivan (R-AK) (202.224.3004), Dean Heller (R-NV) (202.224.6244), Steve Daines (R-MT) (202.224.2651), and other members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and demand that they examine and question Chao’s record against workers before deciding how they will vote.