Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

July 2, 2013

Fact Check: Feinstein's husband and U.S. Postal Service

Q: Does Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum, own a company that has an exclusive contract to sell United States Postal Service property?

A: Blum has an interest in the CBRE Group, which won a competitive contract to sell postal properties. He is chairman of CBRE’s board and owns an investment firm that holds less than 5 percent of its stock.

Full question

Is this true?

The US has entered into a contract with a real estate firm to sell 56 buildings that currently house U.S. Post Offices. The government has decided it no longer needs these buildings, many of which are located on prime land in towns and cities across the country.

The sale of these properties will fetch billions of dollars and a handsome 6 percent commission to the company handling the sales. That company belongs to a man named Richard Blum. Who is Richard Blum you ask?

Full answer

It is true that Richard Blum has a financial relationship with the real estate firm contracted to sell United States Postal Service properties. However, this viral e-mail gets some details — including the name of the real estate company — wrong.

In July 2011, the Postal Service entered into an exclusive contract with the real estate firm CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. (CBRE) to sell surplus Postal Service properties. Blum, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s husband, is the chairman of the company’s board of directors. As a member of the board of directors, he received $157,000 in cash and stock awards from CBRE Group in 2012.

His investment firm, Blum Capital Partners, L.P., is also the real estate firm’s fifth-largest institutional shareholder. As of May 2013, it held more than 15 million shares worth an estimated $3 billion. However, this amounts to about 4.5 percent of CBRE Group’s total shares. CBRE Group is the largest commercial real estate firm in the world. Its Postal Service contract is responsible for a fraction of that revenue, and just a fraction of that fraction is passed on to shareholders.

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