By Randall Holcombe • Tuesday May 28, 2013 11:34 AM PDT •
The US Postal Service is selling hundreds of properties in prime locations across the country to help them deal with their financial difficulties. In the past, the USPS has used multiple real estate agents to sell their properties, but in 2011 the USPS signed a contract with CBRE Group to be the sole provider of real estate services, nation-wide, for their sales.
The Chairman of CBRE Group is Richard Blum, the husband of California Senator Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein says she did not influence the USPS either to break with past precedent and use an exclusive broker, nor to have her husband’s firm get that exclusive contract.
Even if there was no direct influence, the fact that Congress oversees the USPS, coupled with the fact that it is common knowledge that Feinstein and Blum are married, means that there must be a conflict of interest here. Regardless of the law, it is unethical for Blum to receive this contract from the USPS, and the deal is especially dubious because it is an unprecedented exclusive contract.
Such a brazen conflict of interest in this sweetheart deal seems almost too far-fetched to believe, but Snopes.com says it is true.