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Texas Officials Say Investigation Continues into Death of McConnell’s Sister-in-Law

The 50-year-old CEO of Foremost Group passed away after her Tesla drove into a pond.

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

Angela Chao, the 50-year-old CEO of Foremost Group, a New York-based dry bulk shipping company, tragically passed away on Feb. 11 at a private ranch in central Texas when her Tesla accidentally drove into a pond.

While officials from Blanco County determined that Ms. Chao had passed away due to being submerged in the water and ruled out foul play, a letter from the county office to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton indicated that the incident was deemed “not a typical accident.”

The county’s public information officer Kimberly Ashby wrote in a letter dated Feb. 29, first obtained by CNBC, that the Sheriff’s Office was still investigating the accident as a potential criminal matter until concrete evidence ruled out criminal activity.

They have decided to withhold key details such as the exact accident location and 911 logs, claiming that an early release of records could impede their investigation.

After the statement gained national attention, officials appeared to retract their initial position.

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Blanco County sheriff’s office chief deputy Robert Woodring, when contacted by The Epoch Times, affirmed that there had been no change in the investigation.

He stated, “Nothing has changed. Our initial investigation has determined this to be a tragic accident. It remains under investigation until we have collected all necessary information to conclude it.”

He did not respond to further requests for clarification regarding the case.

Ms. Ashby, who did not respond immediately to The Epoch Times’ request for records, mentioned to a local outlet that the national news coverage stemmed from a misinterpretation of a sentence.

Foremost Group publicly announced Ms. Chao’s passing in a statement on Feb. 12, describing the incident as a tragic car accident.

A report from the first responders dated Feb. 11 indicated that the rescue attempt took place at JW Ranch.

Public records reveal that the property is registered under an entity with the same Chicago address as Breyer Capital, a venture capital firm founded by Ms. Chao’s husband, Jim Breyer.

The Chao family has deep political and business connections at the highest levels in China.

Ms. Chao’s father, James Chao, had a close relationship with the late Chinese communist leader Jiang Zemin. In interviews with Chinese media, he expressed pride in being acknowledged as “an old friend of Chinese shipbuilding and shipping industry” and seemed pleased with the “many meetings with and commendations from” Jiang and subsequent Chinese regime leaders.

Both Ms. Chao and her father served on the boards of prominent Chinese state-owned companies that few other foreigners were associated with. She was previously a board member of the Bank of China, China’s central bank, as well as the China State Shipbuilding Corporation, a major state-owned conglomerate supplying ships to the Chinese military.

She also chaired the U.S. risk and management committee of Bank of China USA in New York and was part of the board of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, an organization long linked to Chinese influence operations abroad under the supervision of China’s Ministry of Commerce.

The business connection of the Chao family with China came under scrutiny while Angela Chao’s older sister, Elaine, served as the transportation secretary during the Trump administration.

In a 2021 report, the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General concluded that Elaine Chao used her position to benefit her family’s interests, including assisting with the immigration status of a foreign student who was supported by 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 start a criminal investigation.
Angela Chao and Jim Breyer at the Ninth Breakthrough Prize Ceremony at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, Calif., on April 15, 2023. (Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)
Angela Chao and Jim Breyer at the Ninth Breakthrough Prize Ceremony at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, Calif., on April 15, 2023. (Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

Angela Chao’s husband, Mr. Breyer, had previously served as co-chair of IDG Capital, a Beijing-based investment management firm that was included in the Department of Defense’s list of “Chinese military companies” in January. He also led the advisory board for the business school of China’s state-funded Tsinghua University.

In mid-January, several weeks before Ms. Chao’s unfortunate passing, Mr. Breyer mentioned that he had halted investments in China for 18 months.

As he announced his decision to step down from the Senate GOP leadership, Mr. McConnell mentioned the loss of his sister-in-law “at a young age” as a factor prompting 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 stated in a floor speech.

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