Accountable.US: “[Azar’s and Chao’s] hirings run afoul of Kroger and the University of Miami’s own claims to value diversity and integrity. They now owe their constituencies an explanation why they think these enablers of cruelty are worth compromising those values for”
Washington, D.C. — On the heels of the University of Miami and grocery giant Kroger announcing the hiring of disgraced former Trump administration officials — former Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao respectively — government watchdog Accountable.US is launching mobile billboards in Miami, FL and Cincinnati, OH calling out the organizations for contradicting their stated values.
“Former Trump officials like Alex Azar and Elaine Chao who were on board with Trump’s cruel and inhumane policies like family separation have no business being rewarded with cushy teaching and boardroom gigs — full stop,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “These hirings run afoul of Kroger and the University of Miami’s own claims to value diversity and integrity. They now owe their constituencies an explanation why they think these enablers of cruelty are worth compromising those values for.”
The billboards will be displayed starting this week in Miami, FL, and in Cincinnati, OH near Kroger headquarters. SEE Accountable.US billboard targeting University of Miami HERE and KROGER version HERE. At issue: these organizations’ words do not match their actions legitimizing former officials who stood by twice-impeached former president Trump through some of the darkest days in our country’s history. Kroger, which recently tapped scandal-plagued Chao for its board of directors, claims to promote honesty, integrity, respect, diversity, safety, and inclusion on its website. University of Miami’s website touts its purported core values of “diversity, integrity, responsibility, excellence, compassion, creativity, and teamwork,” yet hired Azar to teach despite his well-documented role in Trump’s policy that tore families apart.
- Alex Azar was one of the senior Trump officials invited to a White House meeting at which a vote was taken to enact the “zero tolerance” policy. Under that policy, migrant children separated at the U.S. border were transferred to facilities supervised by HHS, without an adequate system for tracking families who had been separated. Hiring Azar not only goes against the University of Miami’s declared values, but refutes its own work in immigration advocacy. The University of Miami Law’s Human Rights Clinic joined a coalition of immigration organizations in an amicus brief that sought to repeal a “draconian” state law that would “exacerbate [immigrant] survivors’ trauma, exposing them to inhumane conditions in detention centers and leading to family separation.”
- Azar also oversaw the administration’s botched handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in 400,000 deaths under his leadership, and parroted Trump’s misinformation about treating the virus with the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine despite a lack of scientific evidence, refused to take responsibility for the administration’s early failures to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, and kept COVID-19 threat meetings classified.
- Elaine Chao was one of the former president’s worst enablers, and was involved in a series of ethics controversies throughout her time leading the Transportation Department. Chao failed to condemn the former president for his comments after Charlottesville, standing next to the former President as he claimed there were “very fine people on both sides” after white supremacists had gathered and attacked racial justice advocates, resulting in the death of an innocent protester.
- An inspector general’s report found Chao sought to use her office to help family members in the shipping business, and repeatedly used her position in the DOT to benefit her husband’s, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s political career, including giving the state of Kentucky preferential treatment for road upgrades and other projects.
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