Monthly Archives: December, 2016

‘Tis the Season…

A late Christmas gift.

christmas-gift-tag

 

For some months now, RTP has been on a Bob Corker harangue that some thought bordered on obsession.  We have focused, with copious details, the seeming rank corruption of Sen. Bob Corker – his questionable business deals, relationships and what appears to be serious ethics violations , sweetheart development deals along with an ongoing FBI/SEC probe into, among other things, Corker’s curious stock trades (more on that in the coming days).

All this has been accompanied by our juvenile wisecracks about the vertically-challenge diminutive junior senator from Tennessee.  But even through those wisecracks, we were trying to make a point: all the preening, promoting, misdirection and a slavish local news media had absurdly elevated Corker (sorry, “elevating Corker” is apparently another cheap shot at his height) to the point where he was purported to be a serious contender for numerous high positions in the Trump regime which never happened (as Rocky Top predicted.)

Just before the holiday season kicked in, we vented our frustration with the state media’s willful ignorance and scant attention given to Corker’s troubles.

And then one foggy Christmas Eve, along came The Daily Caller.

For the uninitiated, the Daily Caller is a major political news & commentary site with millions of readers per month.  Most Republicans, as does the entire RTP crew, have it on their “favorites” list.  So we were pleasantly surprised to see mere hours after we posted our most recent screed on Corker, the Caller posted a piece that looked as though it had borrowed heavily from  Rocky Top’s previous  exposes.  Not only did they highlight the exact same accusations of corruption we had been writing about, but they even threw in the bit about Bob Corker’s height being a hindrance to his advancement.  Wonder where they got that idea?  Could it have been from here, here or even way back here?

We also looked at some of the Caller’s source material and found it to be strikingly similar to information we had relied on to develop our own Corker stories.  We mention this to point out that state media also had access to much of this information as well, if only they had taken the time to remove their noses from the senator’s nether regions long enough to look.

But then came yet another gift.  In addition to the complimentary plagiarism of RTP’s memes by The Daily Caller, we are pleased to announce that at least one journalist in the state has seen fit to notice and actually write about Corker’s “shortcomings” (sorry, we just can’t help ourselves).  Not surprisingly, the reporter who broke out of the Corker “group think” mentality was none other than the Dean himself:  Tom Humphrey.

Humphrey has long been a favorite of the RTP crew (with the possible exception of Mrs. Hot Chick, who doesn’t like the fact Tom never wears a necktie – go figure).  But the rest of us like him just fine.  Oh sure, it would be nice if he and others would give RTP a little credit for pushing the narrative every once in a while.  But then if RTP wanted to be famous, we shouldn’t have made ourselves anonymous, right?

Instead, we will console ourselves with the smug satisfaction that the more the MSM ignore RTP and our issues, the more influential we become while they become increasingly extraneous.  Except Humphrey – who even in semi-retirement can still run rings around the Yankee reporters hired by the Tennessean.

Advertisements

Bob Corker and “journalism” in the Age of Trump

Corker’s “promotion” falls flat – just as Rocky Top predicted.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Okay, now that it is abundantly clear Bob Corker will not be Secretary-of-anything, it’s time for the state’s news media to come back to reality.

For months, RTP has been telling you that Bob Corker was not under serious consideration for any major post with the Trump organization.  The “Bob Boomlet” was the result of preening political posturing by the junior senator while using a compliant if not moribund state news media to complete the farce.

When Corker first started his public dalliance with Trump, we were somewhat impressed that Bob was able to correctly interpret the results of the presidential primary.  Actually, an orangutan with a banana would be equally capable of figuring out that if someone (i.e., Trump) was able to carry 94 of Tennessee’s 95 counties in a Republican primary, well, then that just might be a guy you want to get to know – especially if you might be facing a primary of your own in the 2018 elections.  And especially if your primary opponent’s base might be the same as Trump’s.

So Bob dutifully trudged up to New York the moment his name was mentioned as a possible running mate for Trump.  Trump – who at that time could count the number of GOP senators who were supporting him on one hand with fingers left over – gladly welcomed Corker in for a meeting.  Trump made it clear to Corker he would not be his veep choice but graciously offered the podium to Bob so he could get some political mileage out of the rejection.  That resulted in an impromptu re-enactment photo of Dr. Evil and Mini Me:

corker-and-trump

 

dr-evil-2

 

 

 

 

At the same time, the state’s press corps just as dutifully began to produce article after article of glowing, fawning, slobbering puff pieces extolling the (non-existent) rise of Corker’s alleged growing influence.

What makes their brown-nosing even more odious is that the state media produced scads of articles about “Corker the V-P” or “Corker the Secretary of State.” etc. while largely ignoring the seething ethical problems plaguing Corker over his day-trading, shorting the housing market, insider development deals, formal ethics complaints, contingent liabilities, and the like.  These issues remain today and by all accounts are festering, waiting in the wings until Tillerson’s confirmation is completed.  After that task is completed, Corker will still have to face those ethics charges while being demoted from the position he has held over the last several years as the Republican’s leading voice on foreign affairs.  On the power scale of foreign affairs, Corker will go from #1 to about #7  (after the President, Tillerson, Steve Bannon, the National Security advisor, Kelly Ann Conway and the White House gardener).

In fact, we could find only 3 or 4 articles written by Tennessee reporters about Corker’s ethics problems, the most recent published over eight months ago and before the visit to Trump Tower.  Meanwhile, it seemed to the Tennessee press corps the possibility that a U.S. Senator could be corrupt appeared much less interesting than whether Rep. Pants Candy was doing it on the couch with an “anonymous” faux-intern of legal age.

Yep, millions of Americans lost their homes and their equity and billions of taxpayer dollars were delivered to bail out institutions, including some where Corker had a personal financial interest.  Thanks to the priorities of the state news media, Corker may be skating on thin ice, but at least there will be no more “inappropriate hugging” of lobbyists in the state legislature .  Talk about your misplaced priorities.

To all this, the crew here at Rocky Top have a modest request:

Would it be too much to ask for the news media do its damn job and start giving Bob Corker’s ethics problems the same level of scrutiny they give to butt-hurt stories like “how to talk to your children about the Trump election”?  We can only hope — but we won’t hold our breath.

Merry Christmas, y’all.

Speaker “O.J.”

Harwell says she will reform ethics panel in apparent attempt to “find the real sexual harassers.”

oj-simpson

 

In an effort to air-brush the persistent charges and rumors of sexual harassment by some of her closest political allies, Harwell has declared she is “reforming” the way the House goes about the business of filing ethics complaints.

Yeah, right.

This is the equivalent to O.J. Simpson, who vowed after his trial to “pursue the real killers.”harwell-mean-look-edited

Harwell claimed her born-again reform was an outgrowth of the Durham Debacle.  What she didn’t say is that her newfound concern is really an outgrowth of the string of rumors and accusations that have swirled around prominent committee chairmen, her former chief of staff and her current Clerk of the House, among others.

For you see, just like O.J. Simpson, Beth knows full well the truth behind these alleged transgressions.  The fact that the media (much less her) were too gutless to pursue charges that could equal or exceed those leveled against Durham is irrelevant.  She knows who did what.  All the “reform” in the world won’t do anything to expose what Harwell already knows about other legislators’ inappropriate behavior.

Over 42% of her own caucus gave Harwell a vote of “no confidencein the recent Speaker’s race.  Her disastrous handling of the Durham situation, along with her willful cover-up of her cronies’ transgressions, were a major cause for her lack of support.

What will be the fate of Harwell’s efforts?  We don’t know.  But we do know what happened to O.J.

He’s sitting in jail.

And they said our love would never last……

ROCKY TOP POLITICS HITS A MAJOR MILESTONE!

 

views

 

That’s right, since the inception of our little blog in 2014, we have had over 1/2 million views of our irreverent diatribes, commentary and satire.  What’s more, half of all those views came in just the last year.  The growth has been steady, as the graph below reveals:

rtp-chart

Here’s the funny part — RTP was never about generating large numbers of readers.  With no disrespect to the fine people in Hohenwald, Bulls Gap, Ripley and elsewhere, we have always concentrated on serving an audience of about 500 – 1,000 shakers, movers, activists, hangers-on, LP lounge lizards, malcontents and media hacks.

That works out to hundreds, if not thousands of views per shaker, per mover, etc.

We have tried humor sarcasm, thoughtful analysis and puerile commentary while trying to separate fact from rumor accompanied by the requisite disclaimers and qualifiers.  We have royally pissed off many people in power, called out sleazeballs and hypocrites and even complimented a few folks, all in the name of “good gumint.”

You’re welcome.

 

The Corruption of Bob Coker – Part 3

Crony Capitalism on Steroids.

Did inside information by The Hutton Co. and/or Wells Fargo allow Bob Coker to make a killing on a speculative, taxpayer-backed investment? 

We report, you decide.

corker-employee-of-the-month-2

The extent of Corker’s relationship with Wells Fargo is absolutely astonishing. We have already told you how Wells rode to the rescue of Corker’s business buddy Henry Luken (and likely Bob himself) with the refinancing of over $28 million in debt at a time when “refinancing” and “real estate debt” were mutually exclusive terms. Now comes an even more egregious example of how Wells Fargo appears to be financially joined at the hip to the junior senator from Tennessee.

“Who’s your Daddy?”

Greed has many fathers, but it has been Wells Fargo who has shown up repeatedly in Bob Corker’s financial life. The curious case of an Alabama development project is a classic example.  A shopping center, called the McGowin project, was plopped down in a cow pasture near Mobile, AL with some curious taxpayer financing. It also had a major investor show up at the last minute:  U.S. Senator Bob Corker.

Remember Hillary Clinton’s “cattle futures” investment that miraculously turned $1,000 into $100,000 in just a few short months?  Well the Corker–Wells Fargo–McGowin deal was much, much bigger than a lousy $100,000.  And Corker’s stake in the project was a heckuva lot more than Hillary’s measly $1,000 – try millions of dollars.  In this instance, it appears Corker had two aces in the hole that likely guaranteed him a huge profit.  And within a week of investing a large sum of money in the highly speculative project, Corker’s investment likely increased many times over, almost overnight, thanks to – who else? – Wells Fargo.

mcgowin-1Follow us here for a minute:  Bob Corker made a career in commercial real estate in Chattanooga.  One of his close associates there was/is Karen Hutton, a former executive with CBL and a large campaign contributor to Corker.  Yes, this is the same CBL who Corker used to work for and who is named in Senate ethics complaints filed against Corker (more on this in future posts).  Oh, and we would be remiss if we failed to mention that the long-time banker for CBL is none other than — ta da! – Wells Fargo.  In fact, CBL publicly credited Wells Fargo for enabling the company to stay afloat in the housing/real estate crisis of 2007-2013.

But back to Hutton.  Karen Hutton is now the President of The Hutton Co. construction firm that is built the Mobile shopping center. The infamous Jones Lang LaSalle is also a partner.  For you avid readers of Rocky Top, you remember Jones Lang LaSalle and their sweetheart state contract with their buddy, Bill Haslam?  Man, they just keep turning up like a bad penny on smarmy deals, don’t they?  Birds of a feather, and all that.

Now as any developer fresh out of the Haslam Business School at UT can tell you, when you invest in a commercial project that has less than rock-solid financing, your investment is highly speculative.  Many developers can and have lost their shirts on such projects.  It’s a high-risk proposition.  That is, unless you are let in on some inside information that could – ka-ching! — turn your speculative investment into slam-bang profits. The minute a bank like Wells Fargo comes in to finance a big commercial real estate deal, the investments of the early speculators almost instantly move from a gamble to a valuable asset.  Of course, many of the investors put in their money months if not years ahead of that time, sweating out their gamble.

But not Bob Coker.  Oh no, he is a very important person with lots of important duties (like overseeing GSE reforms that could put hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of Wells Fargo – more on this later as well).  Sen. Bob Corker doesn’t have time to wait like mere mortals for his investments to pay off.

On July 17, 2014, McGowin filed the forms revealing that Wells Fargo was the main and likely only major financier of the project.  But the key date to remember here is not June 17th, but the date of July 11, 2014.  For that is the day Corker dropped between $1 million and $5 million on the McGowin project.  (Source: U.S. Senate 2015 financial disclosure statements).

So just six days — 6 days — before Wells Fargo turned the McGowin investments from speculation into spectacular, Bob Corker jumped in with a multi-million dollar bet.  Did he know in advance of what was about to happen on the financing of the project?  It strains credulity to believe he did not.  And just as Wells Fargo bailed out Corker’s alleged $28 million debt from the sale of his property to Henry Luken, here they come again with yet another remarkably “coincidental” move that just so happened to help line the pockets of a man who sits on the Senate Banking Committee.

But the crony capitalism doesn’t end there.  For what would a Corker deal be unless it involved skimming taxpayer dollars?  And just as in the case of Corker voting to bail out AIG with taxpayer money (the same AIG whose continued solvency was critical to protect Corker’s investment when he shorted the housing market) the Alabama deal had a tax incentive component worth millions.  Part of the deal was that investors would receive 1.7% of the 6% of city and county sales taxes predicted to be generated by the shopping center’s sales and would do so for 20 years.  McGowin projected the shopping center would generate annual sales tax revenue of $200 million.  That would put an additional estimated $3.4 million into the pockets of the investors every year for 20 years, for a total of $68 million over the life of the tax incentive.  Not bad, eh?

Are we beginning to see a pattern here?  Silly citizens – and you thought tax incentives and things such as sales taxes were to be used for the public good.  But when it comes to Bob Corker, some of your tax money frequently seems to somehow find its way into his pocket.  Using taxpayer money to guarantee returns – are these the “private gains, public losses” that Corker likes to talk about?

Is it just us, or is Bob Corker is beginning to resemble a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wells Fargo?

 

[Editors’ note: Despite the name of our humble little blog, we welcome our new readers from Alabama.  And we encourage you to send any additional information about the McGowin project our way – anonymously, of course.  Just drop a line with your scuttlebutt to the Rocky Top Tip Line (www.rtptipline@gmail.com) and if it checks out, we will try to use it in future posts.]

In the meantime, you can catch up on our previous postings at the links below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buh-Bye, Brent.

Will the new GOP chairman clean house?

He should.

In a blow to the establishment (aka Bill Haslam & Friends), Scott Golden was elected chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party on Saturday.  We wish him good luck in a very difficult job.  Just know that RTP is counting on the new chairman to conduct the state party in a more professional and honest manner than his predecessor and the old staff conducted themselves.  He can start by cleaning out the cesspit that is the HQs staff.

We also suggest reaching out to those dozens of GOP legislators who had a very real problem with the way the state GOP conducted its business, such as paying people who were working against elected Republican officials.  Blowing off these legislators and their concerns, ignoring them and refusing to take action was an even bigger slap in the face.

But it was Brent Leatherwood’s speech before the SEC on Saturday that brought a grim sense of satisfaction and confirmation to RTP’s previous criticisms.  In that speech, he said:

“In his prepared remarks prior to Saturday’s vote, Leatherwood apologized to any executive committee members who may have been alienated after he encouraged people to vote their conscience instead of enthusiastically backing Trump.

“’I will admit some of our actions have caused considerable consternation.’”

No kidding.

Buh-Bye.

If little ol’ Rocky Top can uncover all this about Sen. Corker…

… Just think what the Russkies could doputin to “Secretary of State” Corker.

You want sources?  We got your sources right here.

You would think after WikiLeaks, Anthony Weiner’s laptop and Hillary’s yoga emails, politicians would have learned their lesson.  But alas, no – some still think their paper trails are safely hidden away from the public’s view.

In the case of Bob Corker – like those before him — the wounds are self-inflicted.  Corker first submitted erroneous (false) financial disclosure statements that conveniently contained “filing errors” and “made mistakes” that just happened to relate to the very things we have been talking about.  That is until Corker had to do multiple revisions to his statements (while throwing his accountant under the bus). 

That’s right, all these revelations about Corker’s spurious financial dealings emanating out of RTP were laying right out in the open for anyone willing to take the time to look at them. Anyone could analyze what they revealed and accomplish the same thing as our humble crew here at RTP.

And we are not done yet.

If anyone else would like to play, just go here and here (subscription required) to pull down the Senate Financial Disclosures for Sen. Bob Corker. Those forms and that wonderful Al Gore invention called the Internet should be all you need to get started.

Have fun, but hurry.  We hear Putin has better sources than Rocky Top and that he is just itching to use them if Corker becomes the nation’s top diplomat.

fortune-masthead

corker-fortune-article-2

Yeah, hire someone who helped bankrupt the party AND tried to screw Trump. That makes sense…

Brent Leatherwood for State GOP Chairman?

Seriously?

We have always wondered why Brent Leatherwood’s resume never mentions the name of a congressman for whom he once worked.  Check it out for yourself.  Go to LinkedIn and you will see that Brent says the he worked as a “senior policy advisor” for a U.S. Congressman, but doesn’t identify his party, his name or even his state.

Most people who have worked for over 3 years as a “senior policy advisor” to a congressman are more than happy to say who they worked for, but not Brent.  Wonder why that is?

Now fast forward to this year’s GOP primary.  Leatherwood not only didn’t update his resume to include the congressman’s name, but he also paid the wife of a subordinate with state party money, knowing she was also working to defeat that same congressman.

There is undoubtedly some bad blood there.

So Brent, what was the real story behind your leaving that congressman’s office?  Were you “encouraged” to leave? And was it with revenge in mind that you hired Taylor Ferrell with state party money, knowing she was also being paid to try and defeat the “Congressman-who-must-not-be-named?”  (Ms. Ferrell was also working to defeat several incumbent GOP legislators in the primaries — that is until over two dozen Republican legislators raised hell about it).

The point to all these questions is relatively simple to ascertain.  Is it just us, or would any normal, rational, thinking individual who has a fiduciary and political responsibility to spend the state GOP’s money wisely have a big freakin’ problem with the sleazy, disingenuous, inside dealing (nepotism) that you and your staff have engaged in and used our money to do it.  And yes, at least one of the RTP crew is and has been a generous and consistent donor to the state GOP and she is pretty torqued off about your complete disregard for even the minimal standards of ethical conduct.  It’s not hard to see why.

Brent, you and your minions allowed this to happen and when all those GOP state legislators called you on it, you arrogantly ignored them and continued to allow your political director’s wife to continue to work against the Congressman.

leatherwoodThe irony seems lost on you that that same Congressman was the first one in the state to endorse President-elect Trump (and stick with him throughout the campaign).

Maybe you know Trump’s new chief of staff, Reince Priebus? Unlike you, Brent, when Donald Trump won the nomination, Preibus refused to take cheap shots at him like the #NeverTrumpers.  Instead he worked harder than ever to make sure Trump had the RNC working for his election and got elected.  In other words, he did his damned job.

You on the other hand, with less that 30 days before the November election, proclaimed Tennessee Republicans “should vote their conscience” when it came to voting for Trump — a sniveling, not so clever attempt to say you were not for Trump, even against Hillary Clinton.  And you now want to become state party chairman?  After throwing elected Republican legislators and the next Republican President of the United States under the bus with your petty agendas, one shudders to think of what you might do as state party chairman.

You will undoubtedly be looking for work if someone besides you gets elected to the chairmanship, but there is not a snowball’s chance in hell you could get any credible position in the Trump administration.  And for good reason: they seem determined to only hire loyal, ethical Republicans.  That criteria sort of leaves you on the outside looking in, doesn’t it?  It sucks to be you.

But hey, don’t let Rocky Top dissuade the fine folks on the state executive committee – even the ones who did everything they could to defeat Trump but are now sucking up like a Hoover trying to get Inauguration tickets.

Somethings never change — but they should.  Starting with you finding another place to work.

Part Two: The Corruption of Bob Corker

fairy-tales-2

“A Nasty, Huge Old Debt and the heart- warming story of how a Big Bank miraculously saved the day!”

Or…

“Wells Fargo bails out Bob Corker and his cronies.”

When Bob Corker ran for the U.S. Senate, he did so by running on the story of a successful businessman who could “get things done.”  In reality, Corker – like a lot high-flying developers leading up to and during the housing crisis – was trying to get his name off millions in debt guarantees.  And Corker’s cash windfall from the sale of his properties to a controversial businessman named Henry Luken likely did not relieve him from his honker of a debt.  Whatever continued debt (also known as a “contingent liability”) Corker is holding, it has remained a secret, since Senate financial disclosure rules didn’t require him to admit to “contingent liabilities.”  But that didn’t make the debt any less real.  And in reality, if the market downturn started picking up speed (which it did), those loan guarantees could ruin Corker and probably Henry Luken as well.

The best we can determine is that Luken assumed the debt from his conveniently-timed purchase of Corker’s properties, while giving Corker $500,000 (believed to be a cash advance to help Corker, whose assets were mostly locked up in his commercial properties).  The “Big Lebowski” of the debt was $28.1 million owed to GE Capital.  When Corker rolled up the debt with GE Capital, he was required to (and did) submit a Universal Commercial Code (UCC) filing, placing his name on the debt. When the debt was satisfied, either by payment or transfer, GE Capital was supposed to release Corker with another filing.  This is where it starts to get murky.  RTP asked our accountant (Ernie T. Eyeshade, CPA) if he could find any such release in the financial disclosures or elsewhere.  He came up empty.

So the first question for Bob should be:  Did GE Capital release you from a $28.1 million debt?   And if not, where is that debt now and how was it satisfied?  And before Bob gets his tighty-whiteys in a wad, we again acknowledge that the disclosure report doesn’t require the listing of a contingent debt.  But we ask anyway because, for as you will see, the existence of that debt and where it went is key.

Show Me Da’ Money

pay-upIt’s an important question.  For if GE Capital did not release Corker from his contingent liability, and if Luken and/or Corker could not cough up the cash as the commercial and housing market began to spiral downward in 2008-2010, then GE Capital would send some accounting goons around to collect from Luken.  If Luken couldn’t pay, then they would come after Corker for the dough.

How Corker made this debt disappear is not a tale of business or financial derring-do but a tale of apparent skirting, and perhaps stepping over a legal or regulatory line.

Bear with us, because this gets a little complicated.  But it is a tale that must be told.

The Deal

When Corker, who seemed to be leveraged out the ying-yang, decided he wanted to run for the Senate, he had a little problem – liquidity.  He need cash, and lots of it, for a successful campaign.  He needed a buyer.

So Corker turns to one Henry Luken to sell the bulk of his commercial real estate “empire” – assets, debt and all.  Luken agreed and, as they say, the rest is history.  But history has a way of circling back on people, and not in a good way.

Corker was the owner of real estate worth between $62 million and $228 million. He had bought Coca Cola heiress Alice Lupton’s old mansion on Minnetonka Road and was the mayor of Chattanooga.  In addition, he was the former roommate and friend of Pilot Oil scion, Jimmy Haslam (and brother to the soon-to-be governor, Bill Haslam).  So Bobby was connected — big time.

But Corker was also the owner of a debt that could strangle some third-world countries. According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Corker “had between $24 million and $120 million in debt, mostly through mortgages on real property holdings that were part of the sale of properties to Chattanooga businessman Henry Luken.”  And despite loans, special relationships with bankers and politicians, all the available accounting tricks, accounts receivable, valuations, etc., etc. big-time developers like Corker are usually just one big deal away from a huge fortune or one step away from bankruptcy if the economy or a deal goes sour.  In 2005, as he was dreaming of hobnobbing with the political elite of Washington, Bob Corker needed to come in off the high wire and cash out as best he could.

Enter Henry Luken.

Luken dropped in on Chattanooga in the 90’s and immediately started throwing money around.  While amassing a lot of cash, Luken played on a highwire.  In 2013 a big part of his business was forced into bankruptcy after he lost $47.4 million from a “fraudulent transfer” verdict stemming from his communications company’s 2008 purchase of a television network.

When the full housing/real estate/banking crisis hit in early 2009, Luken was left holding a bag like a Cub Scout on a snipe hunt.  GE Capital gave Luken two 6-month extensions on his debt, but time was quickly running out.  The financial and political damage to Corker of Luken going belly-up was palpable.

Corker, Wells Fargo and a “Harmonic Convergence” of interests.wells-fargo-cartoon-3

Luken admitted to the Chattanooga Times Free Press he could not find any takers to finance the lousy mountain of debt he had taken off Corker.  Even his own manager confessed: “[It was a] horrible time for everyone …because of the market there weren’t a lot of people letting go of a lot of money,” Ms. Childress said. “We were technically in event of default.”

But never fear!  Luken had an ace in the hole – his old friend Bob Corker and, more to the point, Corker’s position on the Senate Banking Committee.

The real story is that GE Capital would have had to sell off the Luken loan at a discount or move to collect the outstanding balance themselves.  The latter would have put GE in a very difficult spot:  having to sue a sitting U.S. Senator who sat on the committee that was unquestionably the most important committee in Congress for a firm like GE Capital.

In rides Wells Fargo, who inexplicably decided to refinance the Luken/old Corker debt at a time when most banks were spirally down the toilet and re-financing was just a pipe dream for most.  Luken “discovered” Wells Fargo and convinced them to finance an under-capitalized loan with a huge debt attached.  The story they spun at the time was that Wells was “excited” about Chattanooga’s economic prospects – this at a time when the country and banks were facing economic disaster.  Such refinancing of loans were not just hard to find in 2009 – they were damn near impossible. Hell, even Warren Buffet couldn’t refinance a loan during the 2009-2010 meltdown.

According to our sources in the financial community, in practically every similar circumstance, if a firm like Wells were to take over such a loan it would have insisted on a refinance discount – a discount Luken and/or Corker would have to pay.  Again, a bad position to be in against a U.S. Senator. More likely, Wells bought the entire loan – maybe even at a premium that would have allowed Corker to be removed as a contingent liability.  Since researchers have found no record of Corker making another UCC filing removing himself from the loan, there is a possibility he is still on the hook.  But now he would be on the hook to his friends at Wells – who were coming in and out of his door to lobby him like ants to a picnic on such things as GSEs (more on this later).

But we are asked to believe that somehow Luken just stumbled on Wells Fargo and arranged a loan that 99% of the rest of the world couldn’t or wouldn’t secure.  How convenient.

Why would Well Fargo do that, you may ask?  Well if you were a mega-bank like Wells and were holding over half of the nation’s mortgages, why wouldn’t you rush to bail out the close buddy and business associate of a member of the Senate Banking Committee?  After all, the Banking Committee held Wells Fargo’s future in their hands.  Wells was lobbying the crap out of Corker and the committee at the exact same time Luken came begging with hat in hand.  It appears the narrative spun by Luken, Corker and Wells was nothing more than a cover for a raging conflict-of-interest involving their relationship with the member of the very senate committee that was deciding the fate of banks like Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo’s rescue was nothing short of miraculous.  It is believed they took over the Corker/Luken debt, maybe even paying a premium for doing so. and did it while the financial world was in flames.  If true, wouldn’t this be the very “corporate cronyism” and “rigged system” that President-elect Trump keeps talking about?

Was what Wells, Corker, et al did illegal?  There is a good chance that was the case.  But was what happened unbelievably unethical and sleazy?  You’re damn right it was.pig-cartoon

As they say down in Pulaski, comparing the stench of this deal to that of pigs wallowing in the mud is an insult to pigs.

Since all this happened, and as you may have read in the papers, Wells Fargo is now in a heap of trouble for other reasons.  Not the least of their worries is how they opened up over 2,000,000 new accounts in their customer’s names, without bothering to tell the customers.  That has resulted in the appointment of an outside law firm to do an independent investigation of the internal workings of Wells Fargo.  One would think that any “arrangements” involving one or more members of the Senate Banking committee would be of immense interests to them as well as the Feds.

If the review of Wells finds any impropriety, then some people might want to start practicing the “perp walk.”