The real estate firm of the husband of California’s senior U.S. senator stands to make $1.1 billion off the sale of surplus Post Office buildings, many on prime land throughout the country, according to recent news reports.
Dianne Feinstein, former chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has insisted she exerted no influence on the U.S. Postal Service in 2011 to get it to award an exclusive contract to the Los Angeles-based CBRE group, which was chaired at the time by her husband, Richard C. Blum, the New York Post reported.
He continues to serve on the firm’s board of directors.
"Ever wonder how lowly paid lawmakers leave office filthy rich? Sen. Dianne Feinstein is showing how it’s done," Post columnist Richard Johnson wrote last week.
Johnson was the first to disclose the billion-dollar real estate commissions the firm is expected to make off the sale of 56 Post Office properties, which were put on the market to reduce the Postal Service’s multi-billion dollar deficit.
A year-long investigation by the East Bay Express found that CBRE, which calls itself the world’s largest commercial real estate firm, has been maximizing profits by selling surplus Post Office property at below market rates.
"CBRE has sold valuable postal properties to developers at prices that appear to have been steeply discounted from fair market values, resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars in public revenue," the Northern California newspaper reported in 2013.
The Express noted
that Postal Service Inspector General David C. Williams investigated the award of the contract and cited "conflict of interest concerns."
Feinstein’s office has strongly objected to accusations that she helped her husband get the contract.
"Sen. Feinstein is not involved with and does not discuss any of her husband's business decisions with him. Her husband's holdings are his separate personal property," a spokesman told the San Francisco Chronicle
when the controversy first surfaced.
"Sen. Feinstein's assets are held in a blind trust. That arrangement has been in place since before she came to the Senate in 1992."
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