Stephen Calk

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Stephen Calk (b. 1964/1965) is the founder and former CEO of the mortgage lender Federal Savings Bank of Chicago and was an economic advisor to Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign.[1][2]

In 2016, Calk approved large loans from his bank to Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign manager.[3][4] On May 23, 2019, Calk was indicted by the Southern District of New York for financial institution bribery for allegedly approving $16 million in loans to Manafort in exchange for help in securing a high-ranking position with the Trump administration, such as Treasury, Commerce or Defense secretary.[5][6]

Early career[edit]

Calk was born in Detroit, Michigan, and was raised in Florida, Illinois, and London.[7] He attended the United States Military Academy Preparatory School, and is a 1983 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.[8][9] Calk received a Master of Business Administration degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and has also completed courses for senior executives at the Harvard Business School.[10] Calk received a commission as an Army officer, and served as a helicopter pilot from 1985 to 2001, including both active and reserve duty.[11]

Calk's banking career began in Kansas, where, with his brother John, he focused on issuing mortgages on single-family homes to veterans.[4]

Before he ran the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, Calk was president and co-owner of Chicago Bancorp, which has been described as "once one of the largest privately held retail mortgage banks in the country." It was dissolved in 2012. Calk, Chicago Bancorp, and the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago were sued in 2012 and again in 2014 by CitiMortgage, for alleged inaccuracies and misrepresentations in loans that Calk's enterprises had originated and later sold to CitiMortgage.[12] Calk moved his bank's headquarters to Chicago in 2014 after the city offered him tax breaks.[4]

In 2014, the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago signed an agreement to cooperate with the New York City real estate firm Douglas Elliman, and in exchange, either Douglas Elliman or its parent company, the Vector Group, invested $2 million in Calk's bank, according to a 2015 deposition by Howard Lorber, the Vector Group's CEO. The collaboration foundered, however, and was terminated in 2014. In his 2015 deposition, Lorber called Calk difficult to work with and called Calk's account of their collaboration "completely delusional." Lorber, a longtime friend and ally of Trump's, later served with Calk on the Trump campaign's economic council.[4]

Loans to Paul Manafort[edit]

Manafort first got in touch with Calk's Federal Savings Bank of Chicago in April 2016, according to testimony given by the bank's senior vice president Dennis Raico at Manafort's August 2018 trial for fraud and tax evasion. Manafort, Calk, and Raico discussed loans and politics over dinner in New York in May 2016. On July 28, Calk became directly involved in discussions about loans to Manafort and his son-in-law for investment properties, which Raico told the court was unusual. Subsequently, over a lunch, Calk and Manafort discussed another loan. On October 6, 2016, Manafort emailed Calk to say that he had been mistaken in saying at this lunch that he owed $2.5 million on a Bridgehampton, New York, property that he intended to use as collateral. In fact he owed $3 million. "I must have had a blackout," Manafort wrote in his email. On October 16, Manafort asked to change the terms of the loan, requesting a line of credit on the property instead of using it as collateral for a construction loan for a California property. In his application materials for the loan, Manafort provided a 2016 income statement for himself that his business partner Rick Gates later testified was false.[13]

James Brennan, another vice president at the bank, testified at Manafort's trial that Manafort failed to declare in his application materials that two of his New York properties were already mortgaged and that Manafort's statements about his income in 2015 were inconsistent.[14] Brennan also testified that bank employees had noticed that Manafort seemed to have no income as of July 2016, though he claimed to be owed $2.4 million, and that he was more than 90 days late on a $300,000 credit card bill.[15] Concerns within the bank about the propriety of the loan were overruled by Calk, however, and on November 16, 2016, Manafort received from Calk's bank a $9.5 million cash-out refinance loan on a house in Bridgehampton, New York. "It closed because Mr. Calk wanted it to close," Brennan testified.[14] On January 4, 2017, Manafort received an additional loan from Calk's bank, a $6.5 million construction loan on a property on Union Street in New York City.[13] The two loans, totalling about $16 million, were the largest and second-largest ever issued by the bank.[15] The combined size of the loans at the time represented around 5 percent of the bank's asset base of $341 million,[3] and represented about 22 percent of the bank's equity capital of $72 million.[16]

The bank has since written the loans off as a loss.[14]


At a 2018 bail hearing and in a superseding indictment filed against Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, the office of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller alleged that Manafort had fraudulently applied for around $16 million in loans from "Lender D," reported by multiple sources at the time as the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, before and shortly after the 2016 presidential election. In court filings Mueller alleged that Manafort had doctored financial statements from his lobbying firm, "overstating its income by millions of dollars," and had committed a "series of bank loans and bank loan conspiracies."[1][17][18] In February 2018 the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets reported that Mueller's office was investigating whether there had been a quid pro quo arrangement in which Calk approved the loans in return for a position in the Trump administration as Secretary of the Army.[19]

Calk had been named to the Trump campaign's economic advisory panel in August 2016,[20] at Manafort's suggestion, several months after they had begun discussing a possible loan for Manafort.[21] During Manafort's August 2018 trial, prosecutors introduced as evidence emails from Calk showing that on August 4, 2016, he wrote Manafort that "I am happy and willing to serve," and that in November, just after Trump's election, he sent Manafort a resume and a request to be nominated Secretary of the Army, adding that he would also be willing to serve as chief of the departments of Treasury, Commerce, Housing or Urban Development, and Defense, or as ambassador to the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, Ireland, Australia, China, United Nations, the European Union, Portugal, the Vatican, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, or Singapore.[22][23] After Trump's election, Calk instructed Dennis Raico, a senior vice president for Calk's bank, to ask Manafort whether Calk might be named Secretary of the Treasury or Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, according to testimony at Manafort's trial by Raico, although Raico also testified that, embarrassed by the request, he never did ask.[13] During the presidential transition, Manafort wrote in an email to his former deputy Rick Gates, then serving on the inauguration committee, that "we need to discuss Steve Calk for Secretary of Army."[24] On November 30, 2016, Manafort sent an email to Jared Kushner recommending Calk be named Secretary of the Army, to which Kushner replied, "On it!"[25][26] Shortly before Christmas 2016, Manafort added Calk and Calk's son to a list of people to be invited to Trump's inauguration.[24]

Calk did not become a finalist for any government positions in the Trump administration.[27]


In May of 2019 Calls as charged in the southern district of New York with a single count of financial bribery related to the investigation mentioned above and ties to Paul Manafort. He is currently on bail awaiting trial.


  1. ^ a b Protess, Ben; Silver-Greenberg, Jessica (2017-10-30). "Investigations of Manafort in New York Are Beyond Trump's Power to Pardon". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  2. ^ Drabold, Will (August 5, 2016). "Meet Donald Trump's Economic Advisors". Time.
  3. ^ a b McIntire, Mike (2017-04-12). "After Campaign Exit, Manafort Borrowed From Businesses With Trump Ties". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  4. ^ a b c d Monte, Reel; McCormick, John (July 25, 2017). "Behind Manafort's Loans, a Chopper Pilot Who Flew Into Trump's Orbit". Bloomberg. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  5. ^ Larry Buchanan and Karen Yourish (May 20, 2019). "Tracking 29 Investigations Related to Trump". Retrieved May 22, 2019.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ Rashbaum, William K.; Weiser, Benjamin (23 May 2019). "Banker Accused of Arranging $16 Million in Loans to Manafort to Gain High-Level Trump Post" – via
  7. ^ "Kapos: Meet the Chicago exec banking on Trump, flaws and all". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  8. ^ "Executive Profile: Stephen M. Calk". New York, NY. 2018. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  9. ^ "Alumni Notes: Stephen M. Calk '83" (PDF). Shield & Diamond. Memphis, TN: Pi kappa Alpha Fraternity. October 1, 2016. p. 71.
  10. ^ "Executive Profile: Stephen M. Calk".
  11. ^ "Kapos: Meet the Chicago exec banking on Trump, flaws and all".
  12. ^ Brown, Lisa (July 21, 2014). "CitiMortgage seeks $4.5 million in lawsuit against Chicago bankers". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, MO. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  13. ^ a b c Weiner, Rachel; Zapotosky, Matt; Bui, Lynh; Jackman, Tom (August 10, 2018). "Paul Manafort trial Day 9: Manafort got $16 million in loans from bank whose CEO wanted Trump administration post". Washington Post. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  14. ^ a b c Weiner, Rachel; Bui, Lynh; Kranish, Michael; Barrett, Devlin (August 13, 2018). "Prosecution rests after two weeks of testimony in Manafort case". Washington Post. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  15. ^ a b Sneed, Tierney; MacNeal, Caitlin (August 13, 2018). "Witness: Bank Prez Opposed Manafort Loan Approved By Bank CEO Trump Adviser". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  16. ^ Yerak, Becky (July 18, 2017). "Report: Prosecutors demand records on Chicago bank's loans to Paul Manafort". Chicago Tribune. Chicago. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  17. ^ "Paul Manafort got $16 million in loans after the election. Mueller finds that very interesting". Vox. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  18. ^ Mueller, III, Robert (February 16, 2018). "NOTICE OF FILING OF REDACTED DOCUMENT". Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  19. ^ Orden, Erica; Rothfeld, Michael (2018-02-22). "Mueller Examines Manafort Loans". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  20. ^ Tankersley, Jim; DelReal, Jose (August 5, 2016). "Trump's economic team has six men named Steve but no women". Washington Post. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  21. ^ Sweet, Lynn (August 14, 2018). "Banker Stephen Calk never called as witness in Manafort case: A glaring omission". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  22. ^ Zapotosky, Matt; Bui, Lynh; Weiner, Rachel; Jackman, Tom (August 14, 2018). "Paul Manafort trial Day 11: Emails show Manafort deeply involved in his financial dealings". Washington Post. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  23. ^ "Memo from Federal Savings Bank CEO Stephen Calk to Paul Manafort ranking possible Trump administration roles for himself". Washington Post. November 14, 2016. Retrieved August 15, 2018. Perspective [sic] Rolls [sic] in the Trump administration in rank order.
  24. ^ a b "Paul Manafort Trial Live Updates: Gates Admits Having Affair as Defense Attacks Him". New York Times. New York. August 7, 2018. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  25. ^ "'On it!': Manafort Recommends Bank Exec Who Approved Loan for Sec of Army in Kushner Email". Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  26. ^ "Paul Manafort email to Jared Kushner from Nov. 30, 2016, recommending his banker and two others for Trump administration appointments". Washington Post. November 30, 2016. Retrieved August 15, 2018. The 3 indivituals [sic] are people who I believe advance DT agenda. They will be totally reliable and responsive ot the Trump White House.
  27. ^ "Donald Trump potential high-level administration appointments, 2017". Retrieved February 27, 2018.

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