Investigation Ongoing Over Death of McConnell’s Sister-in-Law, Texas Officials Say

Eva Fu
By Eva Fu
March 6, 2024Politics
Investigation Ongoing Over Death of McConnell’s Sister-in-Law, Texas Officials Say
Jim Breyer and Angela Chao attend the AFI Awards Luncheon at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, Calif., on Jan. 12, 2024. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The investigation into the death of Angela Chao, sister-in-law of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), remains ongoing, officials confirmed on March 4.

The 50-year-old CEO of Foremost Group, a New York-based dry bulk shipping company, died in a private ranch in central Texas on Feb. 11 after her Tesla drove into a pond.

While officials from Blanco County determined Ms. Chao had “succumbed from being under the water” and there was no foul play, a letter from the county office to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stated the incident was “not a typical accident.”

“Although the preliminary investigation indicated that this was an unfortunate accident, the Sheriff’s Office is still investigating this accident as a criminal matter until they have sufficient evidence to rule out criminal activity,” the county’s public information officer Kimberly Ashby wrote in a Feb. 29 letter, which was first obtained by CNBC.

It added that the sheriff’s office is withholding key details such as the exact location of the accident and 911 logs, arguing that early release of records “could hinder their investigation.”

The officials appear to backtrack from the statement after it gained national attention.

When approached by The Epoch Times, Blanco County sheriff’s office chief deputy Robert Woodring maintained that there was no shift in the investigation.

“Nothing has changed,” he said in a statement. “Our preliminary investigation has determined this to be an unfortunate accident. It’s still an investigation until all the information required to close it has been gathered and documented.”

He didn’t respond to further requests for clarification over the case. Ms. Ashby, who didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for records, told a local outlet the national news coverage came from a “misinterpretation of a sentence.”

Foremost Group, which made public the death of Ms. Chao in a Feb. 12 statement, had characterized the incident as a “tragic car accident.”

A first responder report dated Feb. 11 identified the location of their rescue attempt as JW Ranch. Public records show the property is under an entity that registers under the same Chicago address as Breyer Capital, a venture capital firm that Ms. Chao’s husband, Jim Breyer, founded.

China Political and Business Ties

Ms. Chao’s family has forged deep political and business ties at China’s top levels.

Her father James Chao was a former schoolmate of the deceased Chinese communist leader Jiang Zemin. In Chinese media interviews, he spoke with pride about being recognized as “an old friend of Chinese shipbuilding and shipping industry,” and seemed gratified by the “many meetings with and commendations from” Jiang and successive Chinese regime leaders.

Both Ms. Chao and her father made their way to the boards of top Chinese state firms as few other foreigners did. She was, at one point, a board member of the Bank of China, known as the country’s central bank, as well as the China State Shipbuilding Corporation, one of China’s primary state-owned conglomerates that supplies ships to the Chinese military.

She also once chaired the U.S. risk and management committee of New York-headquartered Bank of China USA, and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, and served on the board for China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, an organization long associated with Chinese influence peddling operations overseas under the control of the country’s Ministry of Commerce.

The Chao family’s business connection with China became a focal point while Angela Chao’s elder sister, Elaine, served as the transportation secretary in the Trump administration.

A report by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General from 2021 concluded that Elaine Chao used her position to further her family’s interests, including helping with the immigration status of a foreign student who was a beneficiary of her sister’s U.S.-China philanthropy program and involving her relatives in the planning and participation of a later-canceled official trip to China in 2017, which included high-level meetings. Two divisions of the Justice Department declined to open a criminal investigation.

Angela Chao’s surviving spouse, Mr. Breyer, had served as co-chair of IDG Capital, a Beijing-based investment management firm that the Department of Defense in January listed among other entities recognized as “Chinese military companies”. He also presided over the advisory board for the business school of China’s state-funded Tsinghua University.

As he announced his planned departure from the senate GOP leadership, Mr. McConnell cited the loss of his sister-in-law weeks earlier “at a young age” as a reason for his introspection.

“Perhaps it is God’s way of reminding you of your own life’s journey to reprioritize the impact on the world that we will all inevitably leave behind,” he said in a floor speech.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.