The hypocrisy of Republican politicians is practically endemic at this point, but somehow they manage to take it so far it becomes bizarrely comical. Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee was caught having “not properly disclosed millions of dollars in income from real estate, hedge funds and other investments until last Friday” according to The Wall Street Journal. As expected, Corker has since corrected his ‘oversight’. Given that the Republican Party behaves as a for-profit enterprise in collusion with the wealthy oligarchs of America, it will come as no surprise that this man is the third-ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Banking, which oversees the real-estate and financial-services sector.
“did not properly disclose at least $2 million in income from investments in three separate hedge funds in Tennessee, as well as millions of dollars in income from commercial real estate investments…millions of dollars in various other assets and income from transactions.”
This is not a one-time oversight. Corker, who took office in 2007, has consistently failed to report income from his investments. This sum total of money is not petty cash. In fact, in addition to the $2 million in income from hedge fund omissions, “the fully amended filings show at least $3.8 million in additional income between 2007 and 2014 from commercial real-estate holdings.”
In a prepared statement, the Tennessee Republican told Fortune and the WSJ:
“I am extremely disappointed in the filing errors that were made in earlier financial disclosure reports and After completing a full, third-party review, we have corrected this oversight…adding that he had hired an accounting firm after the Journal began making inquiries.”
Corker is the third-ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Banking, which oversees the real-estate and financial-services sectors. “Members of Congress have free reign in their personal investments as long as they disclose them so that the public can determine whether or not there’s a conflict of interest.”
Anne Weismann, executive director of the Campaign for Accountability, told Fortune
“that the organization plans to request a thorough investigation into Corker’s finances. Last month, the group filed complaints with the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Senate ethics committee requesting a separate investigation into Corker over potential insider trading and making false financial statements.”
Comic relief comes in the form of Robert Walker, former chief counsel of the Senate and House ethics committee, who told the Journal, “This is not a situation calling for punishment or admonition by the ethics committee…Rather, he believes it’s a ‘teaching moment’ to ensure that lawmakers ‘fully understand these requirements before filing their annual forms.”
This omission is no petty-cash oversight on Corker’s part. The millions of dollars in unreported income of the past eight years would constitute a sum whereby – if there is intentional wrong-doing – it constitutes a tax-evasion felony. Ironically, the admission that Corker just hired an outside accounting firm, presumably to prevent these kinds of omissions from happening again, is precisely an admission that he knew exactly what he was doing when he failed to report the income in the first place. Consider that if Corker had used an outside accountant in the first place, a reputable accounting firm would, in all likelihood, not have risked its license to hide the income in the first place – and Corker might have had some sort of excuse. The fact that he prepared his own tax-reporting, or the lack of it in this case – is an admission that he knew precisely what he was doing.
Republican hypocrisy and lack of moral leadership never cease to amaze. Especially coming from an elected official who is in charge of precisely the kind of oversight he acknowledges to have made, and then to have another Republican call it a “teaching moment” is truly bizarrely comical – but then again, they are Republicans.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.