No shit! Take a look. Now we know why Turtlehead is so strong on coal, but not Kentucky coal::
James Chao, father of Mitch McConnell’s wife Elaine, has a lot of questions to answer after 40 kilograms of cocaine (about $6.7 million worth) was found on the Ping May, a ship owned by the Foremost Group, a company James Chao founded and led to a tidy fortune. But was that fortune built on honest movement of legitimate bulk trade goods, or has Mr. Chao been trading in less than legal goods?
The cocaine, found in 40 separate packages, was discovered during a routine inspection hidden among a load of coal bound for Europe from the port of Santa Marta, Columbia onboard the Ping May, one of 15 ships Foremost currently operates, with another 8 under construction. The final destination for the ship was to be the Netherlands, likely one of the port cities surrounding Amsterdam. It is known that the Ping May has been witnessed at the port of Zaanstad, one of these cities, in the past.
Foremost Group is the source of most of Senator McConnell’s fortune through gifts and inheritance from his in-laws. It is a shadowy corporation, utilizing a complex scheme of shell companies to skip out on millions in taxes annually.
The seizure of the narcotics shipment in the Caribbean port occurred far away from Kentucky, the state in which Senator Mitch McConnell is now facing a career-defining election. But the Republican Senate minority leader has the closest of ties to the owner of the Ping May, the vessel containing the illicit materials: the Foremost Maritime Corporation, a firm founded and owned by McConnell’s in-laws, the Chao family.
Though Foremost has played a pivotal role in McConnell’s life, bestowing the senator with most of his personal wealth and generating thousands in donations to his campaign committees, the drug bust went unnoticed in Kentucky, where every bit of McConnell-related news has generated fodder for the campaign trail. That’s because, like many international shipping companies, Chao’s firm is shrouded from public view, concealing its identity and limiting its legal liability through an array of tax shelters and foreign registrations. Registered through a limited liability company in the Marshall Islands, the Ping May flies the Liberian flag.
McConnell’s ties to the Chaos go back to the late 1980s, when James Chao began donating to the senator. In 1993, McConnell married James’s daughter, Elaine Chao, a Republican activist and former Reagan administration official who would later serve as secretary of labor in the George W. Bush cabinet. James Chao emigrated to the United States from Taiwan, and founded the Foremost Maritime Corporation upon settling in New York. The company has grown significantly over the years, from acting as maritime agent during the Vietnam War to controlling a fleet of approximately sixteen dry-bulk cargo ships in operation today.
Some of the goods shipped by Foremost echo themes of the McConnell campaign. At a Young Professionals Association of Louisville event this month, McConnell stressed his opposition to carbon dioxide limits imposed by the federal government that would impact the domestic coal market. He argued that such efforts would be fruitless given the role of coal in developing countries and the rising coal trade. Foremost ships routinely transport coal from ports in Australia and Colombia, countries with cheap coal, for export to Asia and Europe.