Posts Tagged ‘conflict of interest’

Today’s Must Read: WashTimes Probes Feinstein, Blum

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Reason #357 why Dianne Feinstein won’t run for governor: Today’s Washington Times carries a boffo investigative report detailing the senior senator from California’s legislative efforts “to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband’s real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms.”

Reporter Chuck Neubauer drills down in great detail to examine the coincidence of timing involved in Feinstein’s actions and the awarding of a lucrative contract to the commercial real estate firm headed by Dick Blum, her investment banker husband. His piece reports that spokesmen for Feinstein and for Blum’s firm insist neither did anything improper, and that the DC power couple make “an intensive effort” to maintain a wall between their financial interests.

The Dianne and Dick show may be as pure as the driven snow on this and every other Blum business eruption over the years, but the political bottom line was delivered in the WashTimes story by Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group:

The episode “highlights the problem of a senator with a spouse who has extensive business interests that intersect frequently with the federal government,” Sloan said. “Even if there is no actual conflict of interest, it often has the appearance of a conflict.”

As a political matter, the financial machinations of the deal matter far less than the fact that Feinstein again finds herself in a defensive posture, trying to explain her public actions in light of his private business dealings. It’s a story that has surfaced in various forms since the two wed when she was still mayor of San Francisco, and erupted periodically as she’s climbed the political ladder.

Should Feinstein choose to abandon the comforts of Georgetown for the rigors of the California campaign trail and run for governor next year, this and every other of the myriad deals Blum has consummated while she’s held high office, including those examined here and here will immediately become fodder for every mad dog opposition researcher, investigative gunslinger, skeptical political writer and tin-foil-hat blogger in the state, to the detriment of her characteristically earnest efforts to hold forth on the virtues of “governing from the center.”

We just sayin’.