Earlier this week, in a show of transparency, Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein (CA) released the Senate-Judiciary Committee testimony of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson to the public. She later apologized for making a hasty decision, blaming it on “a cold”. Senator Feinstein told NBC News, “The one regret I have is that I should have spoken with Senator Grassley before. And I don’t make an excuse, but I’ve had a bad cold and maybe that slowed down my mental facilities a little bit.”
President Trump responded to “Sneaky” Diane Feinstein’s decision to unilaterally release the transcripts to the public in a tweet:
“The fact that Sneaky Dianne Feinstein, who has on numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found, would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way, totally without authorization, is a disgrace”, President Trump wrote.
The fact that Sneaky Dianne Feinstein, who has on numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found, would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way, totally without authorization, is a disgrace. Must have tough Primary!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 10, 2018
Speaking of transparency, why is it that the media was apoplectic over the possibility that President Trump might use his influence as President of the United States to enrich his business, while for the most part, they have for decades, completely ignored the dealings of the transparent senator’s husband with the US government that have made him exceeding wealthy?
Who is Richard Blum and why should Americans care how he made his vast fortune?
San Jose Inside -Richard Blum’s wife is U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. He is also the billionaire founder of the private-equity firm Blum Capital Partners. Colony homes are owned under the umbrella of Colony Capital, one of the largest investment firms in the world. The senator’s disclosure describes Colony American Homes as a “leading owner and provider of high-quality single-family residences for rental across the United States.”
What it doesn’t say is that the rental stock is made up of foreclosed homes purchased by a handful of investor groups and hedge funds in the aftermath of the 2007–08 financial crisis and real estate crash.
Blum is often identified as a quintessential Democratic Party insider, with ties that run the gamut from Jimmy Carter to the Dalai Lama. His private-equity firm manages about $500 million in assets, and the bulk of the fund’s portfolio is dominated by holdings in CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm.
Though Blum has taken pains to deny it, reports say he’s worth at least $1 billion. According to a recent Roll Call survey, Feinstein’s net worth is $45.3 million, which puts her in the top tier of wealthy Washington lawmakers.
According to a 2013 report by The Washington Times– The real estate giant chaired by Richard Blum, the husband of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, was cashing in on a federal crisis.
According to CBRE filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission, the company earned 5 percent ($325 million) of its revenue from government agencies in 2012.
The leveraging of public funds for private profit has been the core strategy of Blum’s business plan for decades. His privately-owned investment firm, Blum Capital Partners, controls billions of dollars in public employee pension fund capital that Blum regularly invests in his own business deals. His state-subsidized ventures have included building vastly over-budget municipal airports and tunnels and bridges; manufacturing and selling high-tech weaponry for use in Iraq and Afghanistan; developing and selling prosthetic limbs for soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan; managing the federal government’s multi-billion dollar real estate portfolio; and owning for-profit colleges whose primary sources of revenue are federally guaranteed student loans and grants authorized by Congress.
Just a few years after the firm now known as CBRE Group collected more than $108 million from a contract to help the FDIC sell foreclosed properties, the company owned in part by Blum is selling off old post offices under an exclusive contract with the financially struggling U.S. Postal Service, records show.
Officials for the Postal Service, Feinstein’s office, and Blum’s company say the contract signed in 2011 with CBRE involved no political influence and was awarded to CBRE after a competitive process that involved six other firms.
Ironically, Feinstein tried unsuccessfully to block the sale of the post offices before her husband’s firm won the contract. And the Postal Service says the decision to sell the buildings, some of them designated as historic sites or located in prime downtown locations, was purely financial.
“One way the Postal Service is saving money and generating revenue is by selling properties that were determined to be unneeded for current operations,” Postal Service spokeswoman Sue Brennan told the Washington Guardian. “Reducing the number of properties the Postal Service owns contributes significantly to the bottom line — in terms of saving money and as a source of revenue when the property is sold.”
Nonetheless, the deal is the latest example of how relatives of powerful politicians and federal officials routinely benefit from the largesse of a government overseen or run by their loved ones.
Blum and Feinstein, a California Democrat and one of the Senate’s most powerful members as chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, likewise have faced questions about overlapping business interests previously.
In late 2008, the real estate firm then-known as CB Richard Ellis won a contract from FDIC to sell off properties the government inherited during the mortgage crisis at generous commission rates that ran as high as 8 percent to 30 percent.
Around the same time, Feinstein took the unusual action of introducing legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to the agency that had just awarded the contract.
Ethics experts raised concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest, though all parties involved denied any wrongdoing. A subsequent review by FDIC’s internal watchdog found no irregularities in the real estate firm’s work for the FDIC and declared that it charged the government fair prices.
But the 2012 inspector general’s report also divulged just how handsomely CB Richard Ellis and its chairman of the board were rewarded: the firm between 2009 and 2011 collected a whopping $108,319,000 in fees and compensation under the deal, the report showed.
Senator Feinstein’s multi-millionaire husband also cashed in on massive military-related contracts
In 2003, SF Gate reported that when it comes to scoring mega-military-related contracts, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s multimillionaire husband, Richard Blum, is right in the thick of things.
First up: a contract announced last week between the Army and URS Corp., the San Francisco planning and engineering company that specializes in defense work — and that happens to be partly owned by Blum’s investment firm.
The contract — which could grow to $600 million — is to help with troop mobilization, weapons systems training and anti-terrorism methods.
That’s on top of a $3.1 billion Army contract that URS snared back in February for weapons systems and homeland defense.
Next up: Perini Corp., which qualified earlier this month for as much as $100 million of defense work in Iraq and elsewhere. The Massachusetts-based company is already busy building barracks and other facilities for the new Afghan army — a separate contract worth $28 million.
Blum’s investment firm controls about 20 percent of Perini’s shares, with the majority held by a group of investors led by company chairman Ron Tutor.
Some of Perini’s stock is also held by Tutor’s West Coast construction company, Tutor-Saliba — the firm that built the Los Angeles subway system, rebuilt the Oakland Coliseum and put BART into San Francisco International Airport.
Tutor-Saliba also oversaw construction of SFO’s new international terminal – – work that is under investigation by the city attorney’s office for alleged overbilling.
But it’s Blum’s ties to URS — in which he controls about a quarter of the stock — that are certain to raise the most questions.
In July, URS acquired defense contractor EG&G (the technical services branch that won the $600 million contract) from the Carlyle Group investment firm. That’s the outfit that boasts ex-President George H.W. Bush, former Secretary of State James Baker and ex-British Prime Minister John Major as advisers.
In exchange, Carlyle received cash and a chunk of URS stock worth a total of $500 million. What’s more, a top Carlyle manager now sits alongside Blum on URS’ board of directors.
Celia Wexler, research director for Common Cause in Washington, D.C., says all the defense and homeland security deals involving Blum-connected companies raise concern of political hanky-panky — especially with talk of the United States spending $100 billion to rebuild Iraq.
“You don’t want this process to be tainted by the possibility that there is any favoritism involved — whether it’s to the husband of a powerful Democratic senator or someone close to the Bush administration,” Wexler said.
“In the end, you want a process that is competitive, accountable and open. It’s the only way there will be confidence the process is not larded by cronyism or inside deals.”
Both Blum and Feinstein — along with representatives of both URS and Perini — said all the deals have been on the up and up.
“Sen. Feinstein has no say or involvement whatsoever in how (Defense Department) contracts are awarded,” said Blum spokesman Owen Blicksilver.
In 2004, it was reported by SF Gate, that the URS Corp. would oversee repairs to Iraq’s communications system, hospitals and courthouses under contracts worth a total of $27.7 million. The contracts were awarded late Wednesday to a joint venture of URS and the Louis Berger Group of New Jersey.
URS and Berger won’t make the repairs themselves. Rather, they’ll serve as management, making sure the work runs smoothly and stays on budget. Other firms will do the actual labor.
A Pentagon spokesman, however, said that political connections were not part of any of contract awards, which were based instead on cost and the ability of each company to do the work.
“Politics is not an evaluation criterion,” said Army Maj. Gary Tallman.
Feinstein spokesman Howard Gantman said the California Democrat was not involved in URS winning its contracts.
“Sen. Feinstein played no role in that,” he said.
Much of URS’ business is tied to military spending. A division of URS, for example, won a $163 million contract on Wednesday from the U.S. Navy for engineering services.