A Senator wanders outside of her issue area to propose a $25 billion appropriation for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to deal with home foreclosures. As it turns out, the FDIC had just hired her husband’s firm, CB Richard Ellis, to sell off foreclosures at what some view as over-generous terms.
It does not look good, as the Washington Times reports today on Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D, Calif.). And some believe that the contract stinks even aside from the senator’s involvement.
“From everything I know about it, it is a very sweet deal and went to somebody who is less than qualified in dealing with foreclosed residential properties. Their expertise is in commercial real estate,” said Cynthia Kenner, a Colorado real estate agent who specializes in selling bank-owned residential properties and last year helped sell more than 600 foreclosed properties. “There are companies that are more experienced in selling such properties than CB Richard Ellis,” she added.
The Senator responds:
Feinstein spokesman Gil Duran said there was no conflict of interest between Mr. Blum’s firm getting the contract and the senator’s legislation….”She was not aware of the contract before she introduced the legislation,” Mr. Duran said. “There is no evidence of any relationship or conflict between this foreclosure relief bill and the contract.”
Even if there is no impropriety, the involvement of congressional families in government contracting and lobbying makes the appearance of impropriety pretty much unavoidable. But those new ethics rules we got in the last Congress are pretty easy on this sort of thing — it’s more important to make sure that Washington Post reporters aren’t buying coffee for Hill staffers.