Sen. Dianne Feinstein's husband, Richard Blum,
could well be called the Democrats' Daddy Warbucks. He's scored bundles from
war contracts. He has recently purchased a $16.5 million crib in San Francisco
and along with his wife has handed hundreds of thousands of dollars over to
fellow Democrats. Since the 2000 election cycle, Blum has contributed over $75,000
to the Democratic Senatorial Committee, and thousands more to individual Democrats,
including John Kerry, Robert Byrd, Joe Lieberman, Ted Kennedy, and Barbara Boxer.
Richard Blum's history as an entrepreneur began at the ripe age of 23 when
he began to work for the San Francisco brokerage firm Sutro & Company. Blum
quickly climbed the ranks and became a partner by the age of 30. According the
San Francisco Chronicle, "Blum proved that he had an eye for
fixer-upper properties when he led a partnership that acquired the struggling
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for $8 million – then sold it
to Mattel Inc. four years later for $40 million."
In 1975, Blum went out on his own and formed a brokerage agency. Today, Blum's
lofty firm, Blum Capital, holds positions in more than 20 companies, including
real estate giants, credit bureaus, and yes, even military contractors.
Blum sees himself as an altruistic capitalist, claims one of his ex-employees:
"He likes to go after companies that are down and out, and bring their
stock back to life. He thinks he's doing good." Blum shares a large stake
a civil construction company that is happily employed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But not all of Blum's war profits come from Perini. In 1975, his venture capital
firm went after fledging construction and design company URS
when the business was about to be bought out by another corporation.
Since then, Blum has increased his stock in URS, capitalizing on its recent
military contracts. Unlike Blum's dabbling with Barnum & Bailey, his current
profits aren't so safe for child consumption.
Here are the basics to date: Blum currently holds over 111,000 shares of stock
in URS Corporation, which is now one of the top defense contractors in the United
States. Blum is an acting director of URS, which bought EG&G,
a leading provider of technical services and management to the U.S. military,
from The Carlyle Group in 2002.
trusty advisers, past and present, include former President George H.W. Bush,
Baker, and ex-SEC Commissioner Arthur
Levitt, among other prominent neoconservatives and Washington power brokers.
URS and Blum have since banked on the Iraq war, scoring a phat $600 million
contract through EG&G. As a result, URS
has seen its stock price more than triple since the war began in March 2003.
Blum has cashed in over $2 million on this venture alone and another $100 million
for his investment firm.
"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."
The Carlyle Group has long been accused of exploiting its political connections
to turn a profit. And if Carlyle can come under the microscope for its government
ties and war profiteering, as it did in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11,
than surely Blum's URS ought to be subject to the same scrutiny.
Owen Blicksilver, Blum's spokesman,
claims his boss and Sen. Feinstein have never talked shop at home in their gated
mansion: "Mr. Blum and Sen. Feinstein have never had any discussions about
outsourcing, government contracts, or URS."
If this were a Republican senator's spouse scoring bundles off the spoils of
war and passing it along to fellow Republicans, the liberals would be up in
arms. But since Dianne Feinstein is a leading Democrat, mum's the word.
Partisanship trumps ethics.