Herman Wang reports in the Chattanooga Times Free Press that Todd Womack, an aide to Sen. Bob Corker, disputes the numbers we reported from Corker’s personal financial disclosure form in our recently released project, Fortune 535. Womack argues that Sunlight didn’t include in Corker’s net worth the millions he made from selling properties, which he reported as transactions. Our question back is why doesn’t that money turn up in Corker’s assets? According to the Senate Ethics Manual, members are supposed to report as assets “Any property held by the filer, his/her spouse, and/or dependent children for investment or the production of income (e.g. real estate, stocks, bonds, accounts, and business income).” Unless Corker never deposited the check, the money from the sale of his buildings should show up as an asset (or assets) somewhere on his form.
Womack said that the Sunlight Foundation made a “strange assertion” about Corker’s net worth, but all we did was add up what he reported and filed with the Senate Ethics Committee. The only strange assertion is the form that Corker filed. As we noted when we released Fortune 535, “Take what follows with a boulder-sized grain of salt: It’s all based on information from the seriously flawed disclosure system used by members of Congress.” Maybe someone should add a surgeon general-like warning label on congressional financial disclosure forms: “Warning: Relying on disclosures from members of Congress may impair your accuracy.”