Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Corrupt Cardinal

Senator Dianne Feinstein may have spent her years as the top Democrat, a Cardinal, on one of the Senate Appropriation Committee's key subcommittees sliding contracts under the table to her husband's companies.

Although the story has bounced around the blogosphere in recent months, ever since Senator Di-Fi unexpectedly resigned from the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies ("Milcon") subcommittee a few months ago, it is finally drawing attention from blue-blooded media, including The Hill.

If the inferences finally coming out about what she did while on Milcon prove true, she may be on the way to morphing from a respected senior Democrat into another poster child for congressional corruption.

The problems stem from her subcommittee activities from 2001 to late 2005, when she quit. During that period the public record suggests she knowingly took part in decisions that eventually put millions of dollars into her husband’s pocket — the classic conflict of interest that exploited her position and power to channel money to her husband’s companies.
Even liberal watchdogs are turning:
Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington, or CREW, usually focuses on the ethical lapses of Republicans and conservatives, but even she is appalled at the way Sen. Feinstein has abused her position. Sloan told a California reporter earlier this month that while "there are a number of members of Congress with conflicts of interest … because of the amount of money involved, Feinstein’s conflict of interest is an order of magnitude greater than those conflicts."
There's more of that, finally
And the director of the Project on Government Oversight who examined the evidence of wrongdoing assembled by California writer Peter Byrne told him that “the paper trail showing Senator Feinstein’s conflict of interest is irrefutable.”
Normally Senators are supposed to be shielded from the names of the companies that will be the beneficiaries of the contracts being awarded, this to prevent crooked contracts.

In Senator Feinstein's case, though, there was a little extra assistance provided by one of her assistants, her legal advisor!, who happened to be, through stroke of good fortune, her husband's business partner! He thoughtfully slipped her a list of the contracts their company was seeking. Sort of like a crib sheet.

The Hill notes that Senator Feinstein's net worth increased about $10 million in the year before she resigned, the year they sold the business. Literally and figuratively.

Duke Cunningham (R-CA) went to jail for less and remains there today.

But, of course, Republican crooks are held to higher standards.

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