FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Democrats’ Daddy Warbucks

by JOSHUA FRANK

 

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 in Perini, 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. Carlyle’s trusty advisers, past and present, include former President George H.W. Bush, James 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.

JOSHUA FRANK edits the radical news blog www.BrickBurner.org and is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, published by Common Courage Press (2005). Josh can be reached at BrickBurner@gmail.com.

 

 

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @brickburner

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail