Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) speaks to reporters before going into the Senate Chamber to vote, on October 12, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Andrew Burton/getty

Republican VP contender’s finances draw FBI scrutiny

Updated
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) has been the subject of a lot of vice-presidential speculation, and on paper, it’s easy to understand why. In fact, by some measures, the Tennessee Republican is the mirror opposite of Donald Trump: Corker is an experienced insider; he’s well liked within the party; and he’s the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. When it comes to VP speculation, that’s a lot of checked boxes.
 
Plus, unlike many other prominent GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Corker doesn’t seem to hate the presumptive Republican nominee. Indeed, this week, the senator “declined an invitation to join President Barack Obama’s historic trip to Asia,” but Corker “did find time for a New York meeting with Donald Trump on Monday,” where the two reportedly chatted about foreign policy.
 
All things considered, the Tennessean certainly looks like the kind of guy who’d make Trump’s short list for the Republican ticket. There is, however, a problem, which Politico highlighted overnight:
The FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission are scrutinizing Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker’s personal finances, including stock transactions involving one of the nation’s top developers of shopping centers and malls, according to multiple sources familiar with the probe.
 
Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a potential vice presidential pick, failed to report millions of dollars in assets and income on his annual financial disclosure until The Wall Street Journal revealed the discrepancy last fall. In the wake of that report, Corker was forced to revise years’ worth of disclosure reports.
It’s worth emphasizing that the exact nature of the FBI’s and SEC’s scrutiny is unclear – there have been no reports of a possible indictment – and Corker insists he’s done nothing wrong. Whether these probes will amount to anything is, at least for now, entirely speculative.
 
That said, when a senator’s finances draw interest from the FBI and the SEC, that’s generally the sort of thing that might keep a guy off his party’s national ticket.
 
Then again, this is Donald Trump we’re talking about, so maybe if Corker were in actual legal trouble, he’d be even more appealing to the presumptive Republican nominee.
 
For more details on the nature of Corker’s controversies, the Wall Street Journal published this report in December 2015, noting that the senator, a member of the Senate Banking Committee which oversees financial services, “failed to properly disclose millions of dollars in income from real estate, hedge funds and other investments since entering the Senate in 2007.”
The new forms show that Mr. Corker had failed to properly disclose at least $2 million in income from investments in three small hedge funds based in his home state. He also didn’t properly report millions of dollars in income from commercial real-estate investments due to an accounting error. And he didn’t disclose millions of dollars in other assets and income from other financial transactions. […]
 
In several instances, Mr. Corker failed to properly disclose investments in and income from the three hedge funds in Tennessee.
He later amended his financial reports and said, in his best passive voice, that he was “extremely disappointed in the filing errors that were made.”
 
A month earlier, the Wall Street Journal also noted Corker turning big profits on “quick stock trades,” which had previously gone unreported.

Update: I spoke this morning with Micah Johnson, the senator’s communications director, who said in an email, “A politically-motivated special interest group that refuses to disclose its donors continues to make baseless charges against Senator Corker, and we know that any effort to examine his actions will result in their smear campaign being discredited.”
 
 
 
 

Bob Corker and FBI

Republican VP contender's finances draw FBI scrutiny

Updated