J. Todd Inman never expected to see a day like Wednesday.

The former Owensboro insurance executive from 2000 to 2017 is chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday morning, Inman had been in the Capitol building on business and then returned to his office about a mile away.

An hour later, a mob stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and ransacking the building.

Inman said people in Washington had been fearing that violence would be possible after a rally President Trump had scheduled on Wednesday.

“Some places a mile from the Capitol were boarded up on Monday,” he said.

Inman said, “Some were here to protest. And some were here to cause trouble.”

And the ones who came to cause trouble succeeded.

Inman said he had to return to the Capitol on Wednesday night with a police escort.

“The streets were empty,” he said. “Even during COVID, there were thousands of people on the streets of Washington. It wasn’t like it had been, but there were still a lot of people.”

Inman said Wednesday night “was so strange.”

He said people were applauding as Congress went back into session to confirm the election of Joe Biden as president.

And people were greeting each other with, “Hope you’re safe,” he said.

Protesters in lobbyOn Thursday morning, Inman said, “five or six protesters walked into our lobby, yelling and screaming. Our guards stopped them from coming any farther.”

“People should get involved with government and work for change,” Inman said. “They shouldn’t resort to anarchy like we saw Wednesday.”

Inman ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Owensboro in 2004 and was elected chairman of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce two years later.

He had worked in Republican campaigns nationally and in several states for several years.

When Trump tapped Elaine Chao to be his secretary of transportation, she hired Inman as director of operations.

A year later, he became deputy chief of staff and then chief of staff — a post he still holds.

On Thursday, Chao, the wife of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell resigned, saying she was “deeply troubled” by the “entirely avoidable” events at the Capitol building.

“I’m still chief of staff until Jan. 20,” Inman said. “Cabinet officers are sworn in within minutes of the president.”

Asked what he plans on doing after that, he said, “Feb. 1 is my birthday. I’m going to take that week off to read a book and sleep. I don’t know what I’m doing after that.”

Inman said, “I’m glad I had the opportunity to serve. My desire to serve was not diminished by Wednesday. I still want to serve. I’m just not sure where.”

The Calvert City native has flown on both Air Force One and Air Force Two in the past four years and logged 150,000 air miles in commercial flights in one year.

The transportation department is responsible for every mode of transportation — from bicycles to space launches.

Two years ago, Inman said, “I work 12- to 14-hour days. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. Emergencies don’t usually happen during regular business hours. But whatever I do in the future, I’ll be better off for the time I spend here. I’ve met a lot of amazing people.”

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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