Ralph Nader wants Senator Diane Feinstein (D-California) to introduce legislation to put a halt to the sell off of United States Postal Service (USPS) buildings around the country.
In a letter, Nader calls on Feinstein to “introduce and champion a bill to immediately suspend all sales of postal properties throughout the country.”
As it turns out, Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum, is chairman of the C.B. Richard Ellis Group (CBRE), which has an exclusive contract to negotiate the sale of USPS real estate.
Investigative journalist Richard Byrne has dug into CBRE’s and Blum’s activities and written an expose, most recenty in e-book form, titled: Going Postal: U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Husband Sells Post Offices to His Friends, Cheap.
In his letter, Nader highlights a number of troubling issues raised by Byrne, including that in the first two years of CBRE’s contract with USPS, it sold 52 postal properties at $66 million less than their assessed value.
“Perhaps of greater concern,” Nader writes, “is that, according to Mr. Byrne, CBRE has sold 20 percent of the postal service’s real estate portfolio that has been sold to date to its own clients or business partners.”
Byrne says that the CBRE contract with USPS was renegotiated in 2012 so as to allow CBRE to negotiate on behalf of both the USPS and prospective buyers.
“How can the U.S. Postal Service reasonably expect that CBRE would obtain the highest possible value for postal properties if CBRE represents both sides of the transaction?” Nader asks.
Nader cites a June 2013 USPS Office of the Inspector General report that expressed concern about the potential for a conflict of interest when CBRE is allowed to negotiate on behalf of the seller, the USPS, as well as the buyer.
“Is it any wonder that you haven’t been particularly outspoken on this issue in light of the fact that you and your husband, Richard Blum, stand to gain generously from his connection to the sale of post offices throughout the country?” Nader asked Feinstein.
Feinstein’s Capitol Hill office did not return calls seeking comment.