Culture Of Corruption, Democrat Style

The new Congress has barely made it past its start before a new face has been put on lobbyist influence. Dianne Feinstein, the senior Senator from California, has resigned her leadership position on a subcommittee which put billions of dollars into her family’s business (via QandO):

SEN. Dianne Feinstein has resigned from the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee. As previously and extensively reviewed in these pages, Feinstein was chairperson and ranking member of MILCON for six years, during which time she had a conflict of interest due to her husband Richard C. Blum’s ownership of two major defense contractors, who were awarded billions of dollars for military construction projects approved by Feinstein.
As MILCON leader, Feinstein relished the details of military construction, even micromanaging one project at the level of its sewer design. She regularly took junkets to military bases around the world to inspect construction projects, some of which were contracted to her husband’s companies, Perini Corp. and URS Corp. …
As of December 2006, according to SEC filings and www.fedspending.org, three corporations in which Blum’s financial entities own a total of $1 billion in stock won considerable favor from the budgets of the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs:
* Boston Scientific Corporation: $17.8 million for medical equipment and supplies; 85 percent of contracts awarded without benefit of competition.
* Kinetic Concepts Inc.: $12 million, medical equipment and supplies; 28 percent noncompetitively awarded.
* CB Richard Ellis: The Blum-controlled international real estate firm holds congressionally funded contracts to lease office space to the Department of Veterans Affairs. It also is involved in redeveloping military bases turned over to the private sector.

Wasn’t it the Democrats who insisted that the Republicans jumped into bed with lobbyists and special interests? Well, now we have a senior Democrat who made sure that over a billion dollars of federal money got routed through her own checkbook, with her husband as proxy. When can we expect to see a Democratic investigation into this brand of corruption?
During the 2006 election, Feinstein’s party made a lot of hay out of non-competitve contracting by the government. Democrats railed especially about Halliburton, even though Halliburton won 95% of its contract dollars by full and open competition. Now we see that Feinstein herself had no problem with non-competitive practices, as long as it meant stuffing her own pockets with taxpayer money. Take a look at the percentages in the above. In 2005, CB Richard Ellis made $100 million in federal contracts, only half of which had been part of full and open competitive bidding.
When we talk about political corruption, this is exactly what we mean. Politicians who use their power and assignments to fill their own pockets with federal dollars corrupt our system and deserve to be tried in court for violating the public trust. Feinstein never should have sat on subcommittees that hand out federal contracts for markets in which her own family businesses compete. If the Democrats meant what they said in 2006, Feinstein provides an excellent test case for their new sense of ethics. They should expel her from the Senate and have California hold a special election to replace her. If they do nothing, then they have exposed themselves as the party of self-enrichment at the expense of taxpayers.

34 thoughts on “Culture Of Corruption, Democrat Style”

  1. Excellent post CE… A post that will not make the pages or air waves of the old media.
    The Democrats ran on a platform; made campaign promises. Yes, elections have consequences. These people sold themselves on specific promises; much like we watched with Republicans for the past 14 years. Now Democrats have a slight majority in both houses as a result of this past election; they are now in the drivers seat. The spotlight is now on them; elections have consequences for all folks.
    Let’s see what they do with Ms. Boxer. We have already seen what they did with Mr. Jefferson (promotion). We already know their intent with the “slow bleed”. We already know they intend to raise the taxes in historic proportions. I’d say these guys are off to a raging start.

  2. Wasn’t the US attorney that covered Feinstein home district one of the ones that was fired .. Lam .. I believe.
    Was the firing related to Feinstein’s troubles ?

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  4. I call them Mercenary Congress for a reason. Just out to get the money for themselves, their lobbyists, their brown-nosers, their sycophants and to hell with the Nation.
    And I *do* apply that very same criteria to the pork packed Republican bills and their inability to even *think* about what it takes to keep the warfighter supplied. They are incompetent, both parties… and disingenuous. And if this Congress eases up on a group that tried to assassinate President Clinton, I will call them suicidal.
    They are just not doing their jobs for the Nation, just for themselves and their supporters so that they can extract money from the budget for themselves. The Nation and the Public come *second* to that, and a distant, long lost second at that. And that is from *both* parties.
    Feinstein is just disgusting in this… but Jack Murtha who visits, by his own account, WRAMC every week or so and not doing anything about it for YEARS is beyond description. How dare he stand up for pork *first* and the wounded veterans of this Nation only in his complaints and not move one red cent from his district to WRAMC?
    Not a penny.
    Beyond description.

  5. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that there are many liberals who don’t like Boxer’s behavior any more than we conservatives (but they’ll make the pro forma claim that she’s not all that bad because Republicans are worse; that’s just what childish and intellectually stunted people do). It’s not that they’re against spending, mind you, but I don’t think they don’t like members of Congress lining their own pockets from the public treasury.
    But they’re in the same boat as we are with many of our members of Congress, such as Foghorn Leghorn Lott, “Bridge” Stevens, and others: who else are they going to vote for? For example, though many of them would have preferred Lamont on the ticket, democrats voted for Lieberman because he didn’t have an (R) behind his name on the ballot. Many of us held out noses in ’06 and tripped the lever for RINOs because there’s no way in hell we’d vote for a filthy democrat.
    The two-party system we’ve evolved is good in that it prevents fractious coalition politics in the Congress, but it also sucks because it seriously limits choices in the voting booth.
    “Let’s see: I can vote for a crooked wardheeler who wants to tax the crap out of me to spend on porkbarrel, or I can vote for a crooked wardheeler who wants to borrow money like a college student with his first credit card to spend on porkbarrel. Decisions, decisions…”

  6. Culture of Corruption: Dianne Feinstein Edition

    Culture of Corruption: Dianne Feinstein Edition? By Good Lt, John Doe #18 HELLO, MSM? Echooooo… According to MetroActive, she resigned quietly (where was the MSM?) in January from a Military Construction Appropriations committee over a conflict of in…

  7. Sen Di Fi Has Hand In Cookie Jar

    Let’s see if the Republicans can find their “Hillary Shrill” voice to scream about the hypocrisy of it all

  8. “SEN. Dianne Feinstein has resigned from the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee.”
    …well, she did resign. I guess one could argue they are making an effort…
    …on the other hand, is that all their doing? No investigation?

  9. What’s your point? That corruption exists on both sides of the aisle? We know that already. Do you want to keep score to see which party is “more” corrupt? I doubt it. You’d lose.

  10. “Halliburton” Anyone?

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  11. The point is Jeffrey, that the Dems made anti-corruption their rallying cry in the last election. It’s the reason they’re in the majority now. Now they are in the spotlight and they aren’t looking any better under scrutiny than their Republican predecessors. Your argument – that we’re less corrupt than you – is laughable. Laughable because it entirely misses/avoids the point. The point is that corruption needs to be routed out and punished wherever it is found, and the Dems – now in the position of leadership – show their reformist zeal to be rather selective. Hypocrits!

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  13. Walking Away with Full Pockets

    Check out the story about SEN. Dianne Feinstein at Captain’s Quarters Yeah, like the MSM will be all over this! Yes, I’m being sarcastic. The media will ignore this as much as they do progress in Iraq.

  14. Jeffrey,
    Oh, I would bet money your side has more corruption.
    If you pay a little attention to the news and to the blogs, you discover quickly that the MSM puts much more scrutiny on corruption done by Republicans. For example, please review its coverage of Harry Reid’s shady land deals and ask yourself how the press would have covered that if he’d been a Republican. Would they have waited until after the elections to give him the scolding they ended up with?
    I don’t think so.
    I think they would have pulled all the stops trying to prevent him from being re-elected. It would have been headline news every day for weeks.
    So the GOP doesn’t have as much shelter as does your party. We cannot afford to have as many crooks as you.
    That’s fine by me.

  15. Jeffrey Carr sez:
    “What’s your point? That corruption exists on both sides of the aisle? We know that already. Do you want to keep score to see which party is “more” corrupt? I doubt it. You’d lose.”
    No, we don’t know that already, because the mainstream media ignores all of the cases of corruption, both fiscal and ethical, on the Dem side. They’ve ignored the Sandy Berger story, and the William Jefferson story.
    Just as they ignored for many decades a Democrat named Lyndon Johnson’s corruption, which included a lengthy relationship with (gasp!) Halliburton. His widow still sits on their Board of Directors.

  16. Guys, guys! It’s irrelevant whether Jeffrey Carr is right and Republicans are more corrupt than the filthy democrats. Think about what he’s written:
    What’s your point? That corruption exists on both sides of the aisle? We know that already. Do you want to keep score to see which party is “more” corrupt? I doubt it. You’d lose.
    In other words, he doesn’t care that DiFi (apparently) was using her position as a US Senator to line her pockets. In his mind, Republicans are worse, so any crime a democrat commits isn’t worth noticing. Totally routine antics on Capitol Hill. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along…

  17. “some of which were contracted to her husband’s companies, Perini Corp. and URS Corp.”
    Thank heavens it wasn’t EVIL INC. (aka HALLIBURTON!)! Sen. Dingbat Trophy-Wife (D-CA) is only slobbering at the trough of an apparently, warm, fuzzy, Military Industrial Complex. I’m sure Code Pink will march on her office at any moment now. Waiting . . .
    “”awarded billions of dollars for military construction projects approved by Feinstein.”
    I’ve worked with the government acquisitions process, and I’d be in jail right now if I did what Sen. Dingbat Trophy-Wife here, did. But then, Democrats are more equal than I am, aren’t they?
    “micromanaging one project at the level of its sewer design.”
    Sen. Dingbat Trophy-Wife knows all about sewers – she’s a Democrat! She lives her entire life in a sewer and counts as her friends 1000s of rodents.
    “They should expel her from the Senate and have California hold a special election to replace her. ”
    That would work, though I would prefer to see her horsewhipped on the Capitol Lawn and then thrown into the Potomac Just different tastes, I guess.

  18. “If the Democrats meant what they said in 2006, Feinstein provides an excellent test case for their new sense of ethics. They should expel her from the Senate and have California hold a special election to replace her. If they do nothing, then they have exposed themselves as the party of self-enrichment at the expense of taxpayers.”
    capt, if you are on meds you missed your daily dose. if you are not on meds–get some. by the time the dems and difi spin this you will feel guilty. think reid, jefferson and murtha for starters.
    the difference between repubs and dems is that repubs feel guilty when they get caught. dems, they feel insulted. tell me, how many repub presidents could get bj’s from interns etc and remain in office. by the time the NYTimes got through with them neighbors would have burned down their house for starters……..
    as for difi, with my being from San Francisco, this is par for the course for all bay area politicians in washington and sacramento.
    they all get elected in landslides and barring murder convictions they always will.

  19. Indeed.
    In fact, the top single issue in the 06 elections, according to polls, was “corruption”. More so than Iraq, the economy, or health care.
    Dollar Bill Jefferson, Harry Reid, John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi, and now Feinstein…the same woman who made an ethical issue out of the legal actions of Alberto Gonzales is guilty of billions of dollars in graft.
    I’m with Ed here. Feinstein should resign immediately. If she does not, the GOP must go on the attack until she is gone.

  20. If Feinstein did something unethical, she needs to pay the price. Unlike some Republicans, I will not defend someone because there is a D behind her name. I never liked her anyway.

  21. Yes cdem, we all defend Hagel, Specter, Snowe, McCain, etc. around here, no matter what they do.

  22. This is my first post here, so I don’t want to sound objectionable. But I think this all may be a little thin.
    I can speak personally, I think, about CB Richard Ellis. I used to be a commercial real estate broker in San Francisco, and regularly competed with CB. If these revenues are for consulting and/or brokerage services to government agencies – and they probably are – then this “non-competetive bidding” is just nonsense. Let me explain. Not every office space requirement goes through a full bidding process – just doesn’t happen. Sometimes, folks will hear XYZ agency is looking for representation, and then more than one firm will bid on the job. But not always.
    Alright, let’s take a government entity like the EDD. They need more office space. So, they call their broker who helped them with their requirement the last time – ’cause that’s what you do. They really do not want to bother with a beauty contest to find office space – way too time consuming – and there’s not enough perceived difference in any particular firm. (The commission is the same as any other firm, anyway – and it’s usually paid by the landlord.) It’s a little like bidding out where you buy copy paper from. You are not going to have an open bid between Office Depot and Staples. You just order some paper. The folks who are making this decision don’t know who Richard Blum is, much less that he’s married to a senator.
    Conversely, a broker is developing relationships with many different folks – some lawyers, some bankers, some government folks, etc. – in hopes of getting work finding people office space. That’s what he does. If he is going after EDD or anybody else, he’s not thinking, “Gee, I’ve got an in because Richard Blum is married to Dianne Feinstein.” There is so much separation it makes the connection meaningless. I bet more than 50% of the employees don’t even know who any of the shareholders of CB are!
    Finally, brokers switch firms quite a lot. The business usually goes with the person, not the firm. Sure, there’s a promise not to do that by the broker. But, the reality is that a firm can work with whomever they want, so it is, in practice, toothless.
    So, what are you all saying anyway? That a commercial real estate company can’t go after any gov’t clients in the normal course of business? I’m willing to bet quite a bit that no government agency gives a shot glass that a senator is married to the head of CB. Same is probably true for URS. They have to sell their services to someone. Government is a big client. They choose like everybody else. Who is the guy/gal in the trenches who is going to give me the best service?
    Possibly in a Corporate Services account where one firm handles all a company or gov’t entity’s work – then maybe. Still that’s pretty thin. It’s all about service, not who owns the company.
    Maybe I’m just not cynical enough. I’m pretty cynical, though. I just don’t see it. Not in this case.

  23. “the difference between repubs and dems is that repubs feel guilty when they get caught. dems, they feel insulted.”
    Truer words were never spoken.

  24. Can we now have a congrssional investigation, or better can we now have a full blown Justice Department investigation.
    Someone always has to slip in a comment about Haliburton when they have never been convicted of anything criminal. When mistakes are made they have caught most of them themselves, the pentagon the rest and reimbursement has been on the spot. Can’t say that about anyone else, can we?

  25. Pablo, while you may be correct on the mechanics of the issue, the salient point is that DiFi herself was aware of what she was doing, and had no problems with it. No shame atall. Whilst railing on any percieved Republican failing.
    Hypocricacy, thy name is Democrat.

  26. Ed, when you note the $100M in 2005 contracts, one is for CB Richard Ellis as the parent company in the amount of $2.5M, and the other is MIne Safety Appliances Co as the parent company for the other $97.5M with CBRE in some kind of affliation on one of the contracts (which isn’t indicated that I can seem to find in the list of contracts ).
    I checked both MIne Safety’s and CBRE’s annual reports and neither indicates any corporate affliation to the other. If there is none, then I would read the contract info as being nothing more than a joint or subsidiary relationship venture in connection to one or more of the contracts, which, from a somewhat more than brief search of the list of some 400+ contracts that constitute the $97.5M, I also couldn’t find.
    Over half, more like $83M of the $97M, was put out as full and open competition. Of that $20M or so only had one bidder — Mine Safety.
    At this point, and inconnection with CBRE related contracts, I don’t see where “In 2005, CB Richard Ellis made $100 million in federal contracts, only half of which had been part of full and open competitive bidding.” can stand as being accurate.
    As for the CBRE’s $2.5M as parent contractor, that is certainly cause for concern because of the Feinstein’s relationship to the company via Blum. Real estate services is a unique situation and also much more opaque in selection of leasing of office space, etc.

  27. Feinstein Follies

    Imagine, if you will, a senior Republican resigning from a committee due to conflict of interest such as this. The bias of the leftist media in this country continues to amaze me. It shouldn’t, but it still does. Can you envision how fast the Democra…

  28. Sorry, you’re way off the mark regarding Sen. Feinstein and her husband Richard Blum. And I will say at the outset that I’m a staunch republican (small “r”)–and a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (New York City chapter).
    I’ve spent over 20 years in the securities and investment management business, and while I don’t personally know Richard Blum, I know his business and reputation. Blum runs an investment management business–he’s a fiduciary for the owners of the assets he manages. If you want to call Feinstein’s relationship with her husband’s fiduciary responsibilities an “appearance of a conflict of interest,” then good for her resigning when the Democrats retook the majority. This is not a scandal–irrespective of any comparison to other faux scandals you care to make for partisan purposes.
    Let me be clear, Richard Blum doesn’t own Perini, URS, Boston Scientific, Kinetic Concepts (all publicly-traded companies), and billions of dollars (from government contracts) are not going into the “family business.” The “family business” is Blum Capital Partners LP, and related-named entities that are investment management fiduciaries. For the record, Blum is chairman of the board of directors of CB Richard Ellis, a real estate services company–a private company for which such “public” information is not readily available. Blum’s day-to-day activities are overseeing an investment management business, not managing the operating businesses in which he invests on behalf of others. Admittedly, a significant portion of Blum’s personal wealth will be tied up in his investment management business, as well as co-invested along with his clients assets–which is the standard, and expected, practice in the private investment management business.
    Furthermore, a review of the most recent proxy statement for Perini clearly refutes the idea that Blum, in concert with CEO Ronald Tutor, control 75% of the voting stock of Perini, as reported by The Center for Public Integrity (http://www.publicintegrity.org).
    When reporting on such matters, please do some research first, otherwise you end up sounding like the boy who cried wolf.
    And I’d be happy to fill in any gaps in knowledge surrounding this topic–follow-up questions encourged.

  29. I saw your same comment over at Don Surber’s Daily Mail blog at his “Feinstein blazes trail for women …” post. I didn’t bother to correct it there but I will here because it isn’t minor and you note you were in the Securities and Investment business which lends credence to the points you make.
    CB Richard Ellis is a public company listed on the NYSE as CBG. Therefore, it is not a private company in which Blum is Chairman of the Board and lots of its records would be publicly available. I will note it may have been private prior to sometime in 2004, which is as far back as the chart shows on Google and I couldn’t find the IPO date.
    As for Blum’s beneficial interest in, for example, Perini, the question hasn’t been what % he owns now but what he owned during the period 2001 – 2006. With a quick look at filings at the Perini website, it wasn’t hard to find that Blum, at one time in the 2003 timeframe, was listed as a 10% owner (it appears to be more than 15%) of the company stock.
    Was that the upper limit of Blum’s ownership or had it been more at some other time? I think it’s a good and relevant question regarding potential improprieties. It’s certainly not something to ignore or obfuscate by talking about conditions today. Why would you do that?

  30. Yup, Dusty, you’re right, CB Richard Ellis is a public company. My search on the WSJ site did not turn up a response–but the ticker CBG does turn up the correct result. (Should’ve Googled instead.) None the less, the article by the Metro paper alleges that Richard C. Blum owns two defense contractors–he does not.
    Even your own research turns up the fact that at one time 90% (or 85%) of Perini is owned by others. But even Blum doesn’t own the shares you’ve identified–they’re held in investment entities managed by Blum’s investment management business–but the assets are owned by others.
    In the same time frame you’ve referenced, the National Union Fire Insurance Company owned 20% of Perini. Does the CEO of National Union Fire Insurance own Perini? Of course not. This is silly.
    Of the hundreds of companies that Blum’s investment management business has invested in –on behalf of others as a fiduciary–and where a small number of them are involved in government contracting–you’re arguing that this is some sort of impropriety because his wife is one senator that votes on appropriation bills?
    Look, I’ll repeat myself. Politicians should avoid even the appearance of a conflict, and she resigned from the sub-committee when the Democrats retook the majority. But please, save your accusation about obfuscation when you’ve got something more than a fishing expedition to fall back upon.
    Hey, there might be some other facts that demonstrate an impropriety–even a scandal–but these don’t do that. I’m not defending Sen. Feinstein, I’m pointing out the faulty assertions.

  31. Chump of the Month: Dianne Feinstein & A Call To Action

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