Tuesday, March 23, 2021

How do public servants get rich? Look at Tennessee's Penny Schwinn and California's Dianne Feinstein.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn interned
for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (link)
by Rod Williams - This is not a news flash or a recent discovery, but government is corrupt from top to bottom.  Corruption is rampant.  Corruption is a way of life.  It is the norm.  People routinely benefit from political connections.  Congressman and senator come into office middle class or merely wealthy and leave super wealthy? How does this happen?

The US postal service is downsizing, long overdue in my view.  With social media, email, text, messenger, phone, fax, zoom, Facetime, What's App, direct deposit, Fed Ex, UPS and many other ways to conduct business and communicate, a downgrade of the money losing inefficient U.S. Postal Service seems way overdue.  I get few pieces of mail I really care about.  I mostly get solicitations for contributions and other junk mail.  I would not miss the post office and think it should be phased out entirely.  That is not the point of this post however.

The post office is closing some branches and  US has entered into a contract with a real estate firm to sell some 56 buildings that currently house these Post Offices. Many of these Post Offices are prime real estate in towns and cities across the country. It is estimated the sale will bring in about $19 billion. A regular real estate commission will be paid to the company that was given the  listing for handling the sales. That company is CBRE.

CBRE's Chairman is Richard Blum and he is also the founder and owner of Blum Capital, a private equity firm and one of CBRE’s largest institutional stockholders. Richard Blum is the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein. Now, is that just a coincidence?  Senator Feinstein and her husband stand to make about $1 Trillion  from the sale of these properties.  
To make what looks like a sleazy sweetheart deal even more sleazy, CBRE is not only making money off of the sale of the property by earning a real estate commission but has negotiated the sale of postal properties all around the country to its own clients and business partners, including to one of its corporate owners, Goldman Sachs Group.

Of course, Senator Feinstein says she had no influence over the process of picking the firm to dispose of Post Office real estate.  And, maybe there is no "smoking gun" to prove that she did, maybe she didn't, maybe there was no real quid pro quo or bribe or threat.  I think it kind of works on an informal basis.  I think it is a more of a "we look out for our own," mentality.  It is more of an understanding, than cash under the table. It is a you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours environment.

I think Democrats are more prone to be involved in this type corruption than Republicans, because more Democrats see government "service" as a lifelong career and are more favorably inclined to support big government.  Big government facilitates more opportunity for graft than limited government.  If one votes for massive spending bills then that opens the door for returned favors more so than if one votes against big spending bills.  However, Republicans are guilty too.  Also, this kind of friendly informal favor swamping and helping each other out courtesy of the tax payers is not restricted to Washington.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn has signed a contract for $8 million with a company for help with the state's reading initiative. Well, what do you know? Schwinn's husband works for that company.  Maybe it is all legal and proper but it sure seems wrong. 

For more on these stories see these links: linklink, link, and link

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