Senator Dianne Feinstein of California silently resigned from her post
on the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee (MILCON) late
last week as her ethical limbo with war contracts began to surface in
the media, including an excellent investigative report written by
Peter Byrne for Metro in January. MILCON has supervised the
appropriations of billions of dollars in reconstruction contracts
since the Bush wars began.
Feinstein, who served as chairperson and
ranking member for the committee from 2001-2005, came under fire early
last year in these pages for profiting by way of her husband Richard
Blum who, until 2005, held large stakes in two defense contracting
companies. Both businesses, URS and Perini, have scored lucrative
contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last four years, and Blum has
personally pocketed tens of millions of dollars off the deals his
wife, along with her colleagues, so graciously approved.
Here's a brief rundown of the Feinstein
family's blatant war profiteering. In April 2003, the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers gave $500 million to Perini to provide services for
Iraq's Central Command. A month earlier in March 2003, Perini was
awarded $25 million to design and construct a facility to support the
Afghan National Army near Kabul. And in March 2004, Perini was awarded
a hefty contract worth up to $500 million for "electrical power
distribution and transmission" in southern Iraq.
But it is not just Perini that has made Feinstein and Blum wealthy.
Blum also held over 111,000 shares of stock in URS Corporation, which
is now one of the top defense contractors in the United States. Blum
was an acting director of URS, which bought EG&G, a leading provider
of technical services and management to the U.S. military, from the
neocon packed Carlyle Group back in 2002.
"As part of EG&G's sale price," reports
the San Francisco Chronicle, "Carlyle acquired a 21.74 percent
stake in URS -- second only to the 23.7 percent of shares controlled
by Blum Capital."
URS and Blum have since banked on the war in Iraq, attaining a $600
million contract through EG&G, which Sen. Feinstein permitted. As a
result, URS has seen its stock price more than triple since the war
began in March of 2003. Blum has cashed in over $2 million on this
venture alone and another $100 million for his investment firm.
And it is not just the Feinstein family that has benefited from the
war -- so too has the Democratic Party. Since 2000, the Democrats'
Daddy Warbucks has donated over $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial
Committee including leading Democrats including John Kerry, Robert
Byrd, Ted Kennedy, and even Barbara Boxer.
Feinstein's resignation from MILCON was the least the senator could do
to atone for profiting off the spoils of war. But Feinstein wasn't
trying to atone, she was trying to cover her tracks. If the Democratic
Party had any foresight whatsoever it would return all the Blood Money
donated by Blum. From there the Senate ought to hold hearings and
examine Feinstein's tenure as the chair and ranking member of MILCON
and analyze every single contract she approved which benefited her
husband's respective companies.
There is absolutely no question -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein has a
plethora of ethics violations she needs to account for at once.
Frank is Co-Editor
of Dissident Voice, and the author of Left Out! How
Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush. He edits
BrickBurner.org, the official blog of
Dissident Voice. He can be reached at:
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