Opinion: McConnell is blocking much-needed aid

Is it no wonder why Americans are being benighted help during this pandemic?

By Jack Castimore

As we head toward the end of the year, and more and more Alaskans are in financial trouble, one man stands in the way of help for the working poor among us, that is Mitch McConnell and his persistent denial of the needs of those working class people around our nation. As was told to me in business school, “follow the money.”

A quick fact check of Mitch McConnell brings up some interesting facts on whom pulls his strings. I was surprised to read this: In 1993 he married Elaine Chao, an immigrant who later served as secretary of labor under President George W. Bush and secretary of transportation under President Donald Trump. She also served as a director on several corporate and nonprofit boards, including Wells Fargo, New York–Presbyterian Hospital, News Corp, Dole Food Company and Protective Life Corporation. According to financial disclosure forms, Chao received between $1 and $5 million for compensation for her service on the board of Wells Fargo. In February 2017, it was reported by the Associated Press that Chao had addressed organizations and was paid $67,000 for the two speeches, which took place in 2015 and 2016. Federal disclosures cited by The New York Times revealed a gift to Chao and her husband Mitch McConnell from Chao’s businessman father, James, valued at between $5 million and $25 million. It was also reported her father has direct connections to the Chinese government. She owns stock and was on the board of directors of Vulcan Materials, one of the largest suppliers of road-paving materials in the United States, a company that receives government contracts. In June 2019, Politico reported that in 2017 Chao had designated her aide Todd Inman as a special liaison “to help with grant applications and other priorities” for Transportation Department projects in the state of Kentucky, the only state to have such a liaison. Inman was to act as an intermediary between the Department, local Kentucky officials, and Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell. This resulted in grants of at least $78 million for projects in Mitch McConnell strongholds Boone County and Owensboro. Elaine Chao’s sister, Grace, is married to Gordon Hartogensis who was nominated by President Trump in May 2018 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a part of the U.S. Labor Department, in May 2019. In April 2008, McConnell’s personal worth went from a minimum of $3 million in 2007 to more than $7 million. In December 2020, the White House announced that Elaine Chao was appointed to the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

It appears there are direct connections between the Chinese government and Senator Mitch McConnell. Is it no wonder why Americans are being benighted by lack of help during this pandemic?

• Jack Castimore is a retired educator and Republican. He resides in Kenai. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.