Going Postal: U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband sells post offices to his friends, cheap, by Peter Byrne. Kindle Edition available on Amazon.com (accessible on any Mac or tablet). An excerpt is here.
The husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has been selling post offices at bargain basement prices — often to his own business partners. That’s the conclusion reached by award-winning journalist Peter Byrne after a year-long investigation. His report is entitled Going Postal U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband sells post offices to his friends, cheap.
Senator Feinstein’s husband is Richard C. Blum, the chairman of CBRE Group Inc., the largest commercial real estate firm in the world. In 2011, the Postal Service awarded Blum's company an exclusive contract to sell off postal real estate in cities and towns across America.
Byrne's in-depth investigation details the many apparent conflicts of interest driving the CBRE deals. It brings to light a scathing government audit of Blum's contract that is being ignored by the Obama administration. It’s based on information gathered through numerous requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and extensive analysis of invoices, tax records, and government reports, as well as many interviews.
The investigation reveals how Senator Feinstein pressured the Postmaster General to stop a postal construction project, and to favor the interests of a developer working with her husband's firm. We learn that the post office executives in charge of Blum's contract have been up to financial shenanigans of their own.
Byrne’s investigation has uncovered evidence of multiple conflicts of interest and problems with post office sales supervised by Blum's company. Among its findings are the following:
- CBRE appears to have repeatedly violated its contract to sell postal properties at or above fair market values.
- CBRE has sold valuable postal properties to developers at prices that appear to have been steeply discounted from fair market values, resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars in public revenue.
- In a series of apparently non-arm's-length transactions, CBRE negotiated the sale of postal properties all around the country to its own clients and business partners, including to one of its corporate owners, Goldman Sachs Group.
- CBRE has been paid commissions as high as 6 percent by the Postal Service for representing both the seller and the buyer in many of the negotiations, thereby raising serious questions as to whether CBRE was doing its best to obtain the highest price possible for the Postal Service.
- Senator Feinstein has, herself, lobbied the Postmaster General on behalf of a redevelopment project in which her husband’s company was involved.
Byrne’s report also explains why the Post Office is not really broke and how powerful forces on Capitol Hill are angling to franchise the U.S. Mail monopoly.
Peter Byrne is an investigative journalist and science writer based in Northern California. His work has been published by Mother Jones, Salon, Wired, Scientific American, and numerous other publications. His earlier series exposing U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein's conflicts of interest — "Senator Warbucks" — was a finalist for the 2008 Investigative Enterprise Award by Investigative Reporters and Editors and received awards from the California Newspaper Publisher's Association and Project Censored. Byrne’s work has been honored by many other awards as well.
Byrne's research and writing on various topics have been funded by the National Science Foundation, Foundational Questions Institute, American Institute of Physics, The Nation Institute, and the Fund for Investigative Journalism. Research for Going Postal was funded by a grant from the William James Association in Santa Cruz, California.
Mr. Byrne can be reached at www.peterbyrne.info.