Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee has made millions of dollars over the last few years trading the stock of a little-known Chattanooga real estate firm. The senator’s massive stock trading profits only recently came into the light as Corker finally admitted he hadn’t revealed at least a dozen stock trades stretching back to 2011, including several that resulted in millions of dollars of profits..
In one trade, Corker apparently purchased between $1 million and $5 million in shares of CBL & Associates Properties Inc., in late 2011 and sold them in May of 2012 for a 42% gain. Two other trades 2009 in accounts in the name of Corker’s daughters also resulted in over $1 million in estimated profits.
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Keep in mind that these trades are among the CBL stock purchases that Corker disclosed in the last few days after questions from The Wall Street Journal about discrepancies in his Senate financial-disclosure reports. Ethics rules mandate that all lawmakers make at least the broad ranges of their financial investments public every year.
Statement from Senator Bob Corker
Corker commented to the WSJ last week he was “extremely disappointed in the filing errors that were made in these earlier reports where the accounting firm mistakenly used realized gain/loss methodology instead of the Senate financial disclosure guidelines.”
Because of the mistakes, Corker continued, “in a few cases, only the sale and gain or loss of the transaction was reported. As a result of this inquiry, and after completing a full review, we are correcting this oversight.”
More on questionable Bob Corker stock trades
Congressional ethics rules permit investments in almost any business as long as the trades are not based on inside information and the investments are appropriately disclosed. Lawmakers have argued for some time that they should have the right to trade stocks, because banning it would “insulate a legislator from the personal and economic interests that his or her constituency, or society in general, has in governmental decisions and policy,” according to the ethics rules. (Huh?!!)
Moreover, there are no penalties for correcting financial disclosures, which not surprisingly happens frequently, because ethics regulators encourage lawmakers to correct mistakes.
The latest disclosures about the highly profitable trades are just the most recent installments in Corker’s long history with CBL, a public firm he is very familiar with. After college, he was employed by a company that was involved in construction for CBL. Corker later founded a construction company and then invested in commercial real estate.
Of note, a number of CBL executives have donated to his campaigns over the years.
Back in 2007, Corker had a diverse portfolio with hundreds of widely owned major corporations. Something apparently changed, however, as virtually all of Corker’s stock trades in the last five years were in CBL.
Bob Corker has bought or sold CBL shares 45 times, at least based on his disclosures to date. His wife and daughters have also made 25 CBL trades in accounts in their names, according to Corker’s office.
On a troubling note, most of Corker’s newly disclosed, highly profitable trades came during the increased scrutiny of financial investments by members of Congress and as Corker was preparing to run for re-election in 2012, but they have just been made public in the last couple of weeks.