by JEFFREY SCOTT SHAPIRO
The victor in yesterday’s California primary in the U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein, has long faced questions about potential conflicts of interest in Congress, according to Breitbart News sources.
Specifically, for at least 15 years, Feinstein has appeared to support government contracts that push federal funds toward companies co-owned or governed by her powerful, billionaire husband, Richard C. Blum.
Breitbart News found evidence of possibly inappropriate influence from the period when Feinstein served on the Military Construction Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee (MILCON), which supervises military construction and oversees quality of life concerns for veterans, including the building of clinics and hospitals for wounded soldiers and housing for military families.
APPROPRIATING FUNDS THROUGH THE U.S. SENATE MILITARY–CONSTRUCTION SUBCOMMITTEE
Financial disclosure reports from 2001-2005 indicate that MILCON–under Feinstein’s leadership–cleared appropriations that were eventually funneled as $1.551 billion worth of military construction contracts to URS Corporation, a San Francisco-based engineering services firm, and Perini (now Tutor Perini), both partially owned by her husband’s investment firms (and their investors) at the time (URS reportedly earned $791 million, and Perini earned $759 million).
Public records reportedly show that Blum paid only $4 a share for the Perini stock, but was able to sell three million shares in 2005 for $23.75 each. (Federal lawmakers are required to file financial disclosure statements under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. The forms are published each year to disclose any potential conflicts of interest with their or their spouses’ business decisions.)
The couple earned somewhere between $500,000 and $5M from capital gains on URS and Perini stock, and another $1.3M-$4M from CB Richard Ellis, a global real estate service company. In total, the couple’s worth rose $10 million to an estimated $40 million. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Blum has served on the corporate boards for both URS and CB Richard Ellis.
Brian Weiss, a press spokesman for Feinstein at the U.S. Senate, told Breitbart News that no conflict of interest existed. In a detailed e-mail response to questions, Weiss wrote the following:
Senator Feinstein sought the advice of the Senate Ethics Committee about whether any conflict existed. The committee indicated that Senator Feinstein could consider, debate and vote on appropriations bills in the subcommittee, the committee and full Senate. The Department of Defense awards contracts—not Congress. Senator Feinstein (and her staff) had no involvement in which entities were awarded military construction contracts.