Corker Aide Calls Insider Trading Claims A 'Smear Campaign' | Nashville Public Radio

Corker Aide Calls Insider Trading Claims A 'Smear Campaign'

May 25, 2016

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says a "politically-motivated special interest group" is behind reports of a federal investigation into his finances and those of a Chattanooga-based real estate company.

But the group, Campaign for Accountability, is standing by its allegation that Corker's trading of the company's stock is suspicious. It defended itself Wednesday by saying the Tennessee Republican has made a fortune in real estate and people should know "whether he came by that great wealth honestly."

Corker won't discuss the allegations directly. But spokeswoman Micah Johnson calls them a "smear campaign" that will eventually be discredited. The claim is that Corker and close relatives traded shares in CBL & Associates Properties, a shopping mall owner, shortly before announcements that moved the company's stock price.

"A politically-motivated special interest group that refuses to disclose its donors continues to make baseless charges against Senator Corker," she said in an email Wednesday.

Campaign for Accountability, which describes itself as a nonprofit watchdog, has previously tussled with Corker over his finances.

Last fall, it filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics alleging he may have engaged in insider trading of shares in CBL & Associates. Corker once worked for a CBL subcontractor and is friends with company president Stephen Lebovitz, who once served as an official on his campaign.

That complaint followed a Wall Street Journal report that Corker had failed to disclose some trades on Congressional reports. The newspaper found Corker had repeatedly bought the stock when it was low and sold it when it was high.

Now, the Journal and Politico quote anonymous sources as saying the FBI and the SEC are looking into the matter. The Journal adds they've found no evidence to suggest Corker did anything wrong, and Lebovitz told the paper nobody at CBL gave Corker or anyone else insider information.