Politico lists Corker, Fleischmann as having potential conflicts in stock trades

Sen. Bob Corker and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, both Chattanooga Republicans, are highlighted by Politico in a listing congressmen whose stock trading raises a question of conflicting interests with their lawmaking activity.

The article, bearing the headline “Reckless stock trading leaves Congress rife with conflicts,” reports that Political found “28 House members and six senators each traded more than 100 stocks in the past two years, placing them in the potential cross hairs of a conflict of interest on a regular basis. And a handful of lawmakers, some of them frequent traders and some not, disproportionately trade in companies that also have an interest in their work on Capitol Hill.”

Here are excerpts from the report on Corker and Fleischmann:

Chuck Fleischmann

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Republican of Tennessee, sits on the health care appropriations panel. As Vice President Joe Biden was pressing lawmakers to approve funding for his “Cancer Moonshot” proposal in the summer of 2016, a Fleischmann family account invested in two companies, Juno Therapeutics and Celgene, which were developing new cancer drugs. One of the investments was made a week before the Obama administration announced new measures that would speed up approval for cancer therapies.

Fleischmann invested in cancer research companies while the Obama administration sold lawmakers on a cancer research “moonshot.” Fleischmann’s spokesperson said he was not aware of the trades and treats his investments like a blind trust. (Note: Fleischmann’s full statement is reproduced HERE by WTVC

–Jan. 12, 2016 — Obama announces new cancer moonshot agenda during his State of the Union address. June 21, 2016 — Fleischmann purchases $1,001-$15,000 stock in Celgene in an account owned by a dependent child.

— June 28, 2016 Obama administration announces new program to speed up patents for cancer immunotherapies.

August 18, 2016 Fleischmann purchases $1,001-$15,000 in Juno Therapeutics in an account owned by a dependent child.

— December 13, 2016 Obama signs 21st Century Cures bill, which includes cancer moonshot, into law. December 21, 2016 Fleischmann sells $1,001-$15,000 in Juno Therapeutics.

Bob Corker

Corker bought and sold shares in Chesapeake Energy as a bill he co-sponsored benefitting Chesapeake wound its way through Congress. Corker’s spokesperson said he sold the shares at a loss to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

–May 19, 2015 Senators unveil a bill to lift the 40-year-old oil export ban. Corker is an original co-sponsor of the bill. Aug. 24, 2015 Corker purchases between $1,000,001-$5,000,000 in Chesapeake Energy stock and sells it the next day.

–Oct. 1, 2015 Senate Banking Committee, of which Corker is a member, passes a bill to repeal the oil export ban. Corker says he thinks the issue could surface in budget negotiations. Nov. 12, 2015 Corker purchases between $500,001-$1,000,000 in Chesapeake stock.

–Dec. 16, 2015 Congress announces a spending deal that includes lifting the oil export ban. Dec. 17, 2015 Corker sells between $500,001-$1,000,000 in Chesapeake stock.

— Dec. 18, 2015 Obama signs the bill lifting the oil export ban. Dec. 21, 2015 Corker purchases between $500,001-$1,000,000 in Chesapeake stock. Dec. 31, 2015 Corker sells between $500,001-$1,000,000 in Chesapeake stock.

Note: Corker stock dealings have previously been in the news. For a leading example, see previous post HERE.

UPDATE: The Tennessee Democratic Party spotted the story and, not surprisingly, promptly issued a news release denouncing the Republican congressmen. (Also not surprisingly, there is silence from TNGOP.)

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:

Nashville, Tenn. (May 15, 2017) – Politico reports today that Senator Bob Corker and Representative Chuck Fleischmann are among a number of legislators seemingly capitalizing on their position in government by trading stocks either related to legislation they were working on or potentially using inside information. Rep. Fleischmann sought to profit from Vice President Biden’s moon shot on cancer research, making a strategic investment ahead of the official announcement

For Senator Corker, this is another event in an emerging pattern. Corker invested in Chesapeake Energy, a company advocating for ending the oil export ban at the same time he was cosponsoring the bill to end the ban, eventually passed by congress. The day after it became clear the ban would end, Sen. Corker sold at least $500,000 in shares of the stock.

“It’s unseemly. Tennesseans are struggling. Over 1 million people are living in poverty in our state, including over 300,000 children. Meanwhile Senator Corker and Representative Fleischmann are using their elected offices to line their pockets. On top of that, Rep. Fleischmann just voted for a health care bill that only 21% of people approve of because it rolls back protections for people with pre-existing conditions and throws 24 million people off of their coverage. Maybe if he spent as much time reading the health care bill as he did on his own stock trades, he would have made a better decision.

Previously, Senator Corker undervalued his net worth in federal financial disclosures, leaving out millions in real estate holdings alone. Corker was also investigated for suspicion of insider trading by the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The specific problems were with a Chattanooga based real estate company with close ties to Corker.

“Senator Corker has managed to earn millions of dollars while being a United States Senator. He seems to have really great luck with stock trades. This is everything people hate about Washington. We have a real crisis of confidence in our government right now because of behavior like we see with Senator Corker and Rep. Fleischmann. Public service is not supposed to be about how much money you can make for yourself, it is about how you can best serve the people of Tennessee.”

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