Claim: The husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein chairs a company that brokers sales of USPS facilities.
The sale of these properties will bring in billions of dollars and, with that, millions of dollars in commissions for the one Company that is in charge of handling the sale and negotiation of the new leases.
What makes this such a matter of concern is that the company that the Government has contracted with to conduct the sales (and the corresponding leases for the new locations of the displaced post offices) is owned by Richard Blum.
Does that name mean anything to you? Maybe it should
In 2011, the CB Richard Ellis Group (now CBRE Group, Inc.), the world's largest commercial real estate services firm, was awarded an exclusive contract to market USPS facilities, which CBRE touted by announcing: "Historically, USPS has worked with multiple real estate service providers. The new contract enables USPS to consolidate these activities with one service provider."
This award has been the subject of some controversy, as CBRE's Chairman of the Board is Richard C. Blum, the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein, who represents the state of California in the U.S. Senate.
Although it is true that Blum is both CBRE's chairman and the spouse of a U.S. senator, it is not accurate to say that he is "solely in charge" of CBRE, nor that he "owns" the company. CBRE is headed by President and Chief Executive Officer Robert E. Sulentic, and CBRE is a public company whose shares are owned by many different individuals and institutional stockholders. (It is true, however, that Blum Capital, a private equity firm founded by Richard Blum, is one of CBRE's larger institutional stockholders.)
Owner Holdings Link http://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/cbg/institutional-holdings
Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, columnist
"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. 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," said Brian Weiss, Feinstein's communications director.
In 2012, Feinstein voted for an amendment to a postal reform bill that would have temporarily halted post office closings. The amendment was defeated in the House.
Both the Postal Service and CBRE insisted the 2011 contract was competitively bid. The Postal Service is an independent agency that reports to Congress, but there is no indication Congress plays any role in the awarding of contracts.
While CBRE handles the transactions, it does not advise the Postal Service which facilities to put on the market, I was told by both sides.
Maiman, Bruce. "How Congress Undercuts the Postal Service."
The Sacramento Bee. 16 April 2013.
Ross, Andrew S. "Grim Outlook for Post Office Buildings." San Francisco Chronicle. 8 February 2013.