Feinstein has real power. Blum has serious money. For 27 married years, the politician and the investor have excelled professionally while facing periodic queries about Blum's far-flung investments.
The latest round now comes powered by the Internet, fanned by activists on both right and left. The partisans find common cause in questioning Feinstein's role in Pentagon spending while Blum was investing in defense firms.
Critics have accused Feinstein of having a conflict of interest by serving through last year as chairwoman and ranking member of the Senate's military construction appropriations subcommittee at the same time that her husband had financial interests in two firms that rely on defense contracts.
The Senate panel approves some $16 billion annually for military construction projects.
Until 2005, Blum had major holdings in two firms, URS Corp. and Perini Corp., that rely on defense contracts.
Perini received $200 million in federal contracts from 2000 to 2006, primarily with the Army, according to records compiled by the private watchdog group OMB Watch. URS received $1.8 billion worth of contracts -- primarily Air Force, Army and Navy -- during the same period.
Feinstein's spokesman, Scott Gerber, declared that the senator has always 'acted appropriately' and within the Senate's ethics guidelines. He sternly denounced suggestions of conflict, first raised in articles published in the Bay Area's free Metro weekly newspaper, and noted that the Pentagon, not Congress, decides who is awarded contracts.
'The story is filled with inaccuracies, errors and distortions,' Gerber said, 'and it has been pushed by the right-wing bloggers.'
Actually, the story has migrated from left to right and back again.
It was the left's turn again, when female anti-war protesters gathered outside Feinstein's
home. Code Pink leader Medea Benjamin declared that Feinstein and Blum 'have profited from this war' in San Francisco . Iraq
On the right, the conservative group Judicial Watch announced its own probe. The Washington-based group, which filed myriad lawsuits against the
administration, is now preparing Freedom of Information Act requests into the URS and Perini contracts. Clinton
'We've commenced an investigation,' Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
Comment: I found this interesting because Feinstein is coming under attack by both leftists and conservatives. But its highly unlikely Feinstein will be investigated because one, the MSM is looking the other way; and two, the aristocrat club in the U.S. Senate is a tangled web of mutual profiteering in which few would be willing to cast the first stone. Cleaning this mess up will have to come from the States and repealing the 17th amendment.
- Available on Topix from Centre Daily Times, published Friday Apr 13
- Bloggers, activists raise questions Sen. Dianne Feinstein, husband - Knight Ridder Washington Bureau