Why Are the Feds Investigating a Senior GOP Senator?
Policy + Politics

Why Are the Feds Investigating a Senior GOP Senator?

REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

The FBI and the Securities Exchange Commission are putting the personal finances of one of the Senate’s leading Republican voices on foreign policy under the microscope.

Politico reports that the feds are looking into whether Sen. Bob Corker (TN) broke any rules when he failed to report millions in income and assets, including stock transactions, in his annual financial disclosures. The Wall Street Journal reported on the omissions last fall, and Corker, who entered the Senate in 2007 after serving as the mayor of Chattanooga, revised years’ worth of disclosure reports.

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Specifically, investigators are sniffing around Corker’s ties to CBL & Associates Properties Inc., according to The Journal. The Chattanooga-based real estate investment firm has properties across the country and Corker worked there for a little while after college.

Corker remains friends with the company’s executives, some of whom have donated to his campaigns, while he has raked in millions in recent years by trading CBL stock. No one at the company has reportedly been contacted by the feds.

Thus far investigators haven’t found any evidence of wrongdoing and Corker’s office adamantly denies any impropriety and blamed the entire probe on a complaint filed with the SEC by advocacy group Campaign for Accountability.

“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,” Micah Johnson, a Corker spokeswoman, said in a statement.

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The probe is particularly noteworthy because Corker is the chair of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As such, he has become a high-profile opponent of many of the Obama administration’s foreign policy efforts, such as last year’s landmark nuclear deal with Iran, and held the White House’s feet to the fire over a new authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State and its affiliates in Iraq and Syria.

Corker also serves as a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee.

On top of that, Corker is believed to be on Donald Trump’s short list of possible running mates. The Tennessee lawmaker trekked to Trump Tower in Manhattan on Monday, fueling speculation that he is a finalist to be the presumptive GOP nominee’s pick for vice president.

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"I have no reason whatsoever to think that I am being considered” for vice president, Corker told reporters outside Trump Tower.

“This was a meeting between two people who didn't know each other except over phone calls, getting to know one another,” he said, adding they talked about China and Russia.

What made the meeting more notable is that it came just a few weeks after Trump’s expansive speech last month in Washington where outlined his "America first" foreign policy stance.