Corker's $1 million CBL gain falls short

Corker's $1 million CBL gain falls short

December 31st, 2011 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker earned more than $1 million on more than two dozen trades he made during 2010 buying and selling stock in the Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Properties where the Chattanooga Republican began his career.

But an analysis by the Wall Street Journal on Friday suggests the former Chattanooga mayor would have doubled those earnings had he simply held the stock.

The Journal cited Corker among many members of Congress who actively buy and sell stock.

"Some members of Congress are not particularly good at it," the newspaper said.

A study by MIT economist Jens Hainmueller found that congressional investment portfolios from 2004 to 2008 lagged the overall market by 2 percent to 3 percent a year.

Corker did better than most of his portfolio managers in 2010 with his investments in CBL, which soared by more than 80 percent in 2010.

In his financial disclosure for 2010, Corker listed 26 trades in CBL stock during 2010.

Three of those trades were between $5 million and $25 million each, while a dozen times Corker traded CBL stock valued between $1 million and $5 million.

Corker's capital gain from CBL in 2010 was between $1 million and $5 million. But the Wall Street Journal said Corker's gains would have been at least twice as much had he held the shares through the year.

Corker said most of his investments are handled by Pointer Management LLC and TSWII in Chattanooga and involve mutual fund investments. But Corker said he personally makes investments in CBL, where he worked briefly after graduating from the University of Tennessee.

"I've watched the trading range on this hometown-based stock and have found that especially during times of market volatility it trades within wide ranges," Corker said in a statement released by his Senate office Friday.

"I've bought it heavily when it is at the low end of that range and then I hold it until there is upward movement - when I sell."

Corker, a successful builder and developer before he was elected Chattanooga mayor in 2001, ranked as the eighth-wealthiest U.S. senator in 2010 with a net worth between $11.7 million and $107.4 million, according to an analysis of financial disclosures by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Despite the below average investment record by many members of Congress, a CBS "60 Minutes" report on members of Congress trading on inside information has spurred legislation known as the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or Stock Act.

The bill would prohibit members of Congress from commodities and securities trading based on nonpublic information and would require additional reporting by members and employees of Congress of their transactions.

"I have no particular problem with more disclosure," Corker said in an interview Friday.