Richard Blum and Dianne Feinstein

Insiders of the Week, Oct. 15 2013

Written by Adam English
Posted October 15, 2013

Insiders of the Week

feinstein and blumMeet Sen. Dianne Feinsten and her husband, Richard C. Blum.

She is widely panned for her attempts to squash inquiries into NSA programs and her draconian weapon ban proposals.

We could fill this entire article with what she has done, but for now, we'll focus on what Peter Byrne uncovered in his new book, Going Postal.

Blum chairs C.B. Richard Ellis (CBRE) which has the exclusive contract to negotiate sales for the Postal Service's $85 billion real estate portfolio.

Byrne uncovered evidence of CBRE selling postal service properties far below assessed values and fair market values, creating tens of millions of dollars of losses.

In Seattle, WA, CBRE sold a post office building in 2011 for $8 million that was assessed at $16 million.

In St. Paul, MN, it sold a 17-story office building for $20 million under the assessed value in 2009. 

A total of 20% of its postal portfolio was sold to its own clients and partners, including one of its corporate owners, Goldman Sachs Group. 

CBRE does the appraisals as well, which is highly unorthodox. The Postmaster has refused to disclose CBRE's appraisals from Freedom of Information Act requests. The information is not sensitive or confidential.

Real estate industry ethics require agents to get the best deal for their clients (in this case, the USPS), not for their business partners and owners. 

CBRE was originally contracted to represent only the interests of the Postal Service. In 2012, it's contract was amended to allow it to negotiate on behalf of the USPS and buyers.

Senator Feinstein has lobbied the Postmaster General on behalf of a redevelopment project in which her husband's company was involved as well. 

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