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Friday, December 1, 2023

Dianne Feinstein’s Lengthy Struggle Over Management of Late Husband’s Property


For years, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has been engaged in an extended and painful public drama about her well being and skill to do her job, as she winds down a storied profession as a lawmaker and a former mayor of San Francisco.

Now, Senator Feinstein can also be navigating an more and more bitter authorized and monetary battle that pits her and her daughter, Katherine Feinstein, towards the three daughters of her late husband Richard C. Blum, who was a rich financier.

In a single authorized dispute, the household is combating over what’s described as Senator Feinstein’s want to promote a seaside home in an unique neighborhood in Stinson Seaside, north of San Francisco. In one other disagreement, the 2 factions are at odds over entry to the proceeds of Mr. Blum’s life insurance coverage, which Senator Feinstein says she must pay for her rising medical bills.

For these near Senator Feinstein, the wrestle over Mr. Blum’s property has exacerbated a latest and regrettable chapter that has marred the twilight of an extended and profitable public life and that has raised issues about her potential to handle her personal affairs.

“The monetary battle is one other factor that makes the tip of her profession unhappy to individuals who have identified her within the excessive factors of her profession,” mentioned Jerry Roberts, writer of the biography “Dianne Feinstein: By no means Let Them See You Cry.” It was revealed in 1994, two years after she was elected to the Senate.

Raised in affluence, Senator Feinstein has lengthy been among the many wealthiest members of Congress. She was wealthy in her personal proper in 1980 when she married Mr. Blum. After she entered the Senate, she positioned securities right into a blind belief that’s valued at between $5 million and $25 million, in accordance with her most up-to-date monetary disclosure required of lawmakers.

Mixed, the couple’s fortunes flourished to an extent that eclipsed even the senator’s prior lifestyle. Her fundamental residence is a 9,500-square-foot mansion within the upscale San Francisco neighborhood of Pacific Heights. Their trip properties, till just lately, included the 36-acre Bear Paw Ranch in Aspen, Colo., which bought in March for greater than $25 million, and a seven-bedroom Lake Tahoe compound that bought in late 2021 for a reported $36 million. Present holdings embrace a property on the Hawaii island of Kauai and a house in Washington, D.C.

Among the many backdrops to the combat over Mr. Blum’s property, nevertheless, are questions in regards to the extent of his fortune, in addition to the out-of-pocket value of house well being care that Senator Feinstein has acquired since her bout with shingles earlier this yr.

Throughout his lifetime, Mr. Blum, Senator Feinstein’s third husband and a personal fairness magnate, was usually referred to in public accounts as a billionaire. Nevertheless, individuals aware of the household’s funds dispute that characterization and say that Mr. Blum’s wealth was lower than some heirs had anticipated. Mr. Blum’s associates mentioned that the pandemic lower deeply into his investments, notably his in depth holdings in inns.

Senator Feinstein, 90 and in her sixth time period within the Senate, has lengthy been in frail well being with rising reminiscence and cognition points. When she returned to work earlier this yr after a monthslong absence due to shingles and varied problems, her additional decline shocked colleagues. She has relied on a cadre of aides with a purpose to operate within the Senate, whilst she has resisted calls to relinquish her seat earlier than her time period expires after subsequent yr’s election.

The 2 lawsuits have been filed by Katherine Feinstein, 66, Senator Feinstein’s solely baby, who has energy of legal professional over her mom’s authorized affairs. The primary lawsuit, over the seaside home, says the property is in disrepair, that Senator Feinstein now not needs to make use of it, and that she needs to promote it this summer season or fall.

Earlier in her profession, the seaside home supplied a particular refuge from the rough-and-tumble world of politics, and she or he retreated there after dropping the 1990 race for governor of California. The three-bedroom house dealing with Bolinas Lagoon occupies practically a half-acre of sand in a gated group whose residents over time have ranged from old-money San Franciscans and hippie artists to celebrities just like the novelist Danielle Metal and members of The Grateful Useless. In Might, a home of comparable dimension in the identical group bought for greater than $6 million.

The go well with additionally accused Mr. Blum’s daughters of looking for to make use of the seaside home at Senator Feinstein’s expense and to restrict her potential to dump components of the belief with a purpose to enhance the worth of their inheritance after Senator Feinstein’s dying.

The second lawsuit, which challenges whether or not the trustees have been correctly appointed, issues Mr. Blum’s life insurance coverage proceeds and claims that the funds, that are speculated to be disbursed via a belief, have been held again by the trustees. The go well with says that Senator Feinstein has “incurred vital medical bills” and that regardless of Mr. Blum’s “intent to assist his partner after his dying, the purported trustees have refused to make distributions to reimburse Senator Feinstein’s medical bills.”

In response, a Bay Space lawyer representing the 2 trustees — Michael R. Klein, a longtime lawyer for Mr. Blum, and Marc T. Scholvinck, who was chief monetary officer of Mr. Blum’s non-public fairness agency — mentioned the 2 had by no means refused to pay any cash to Senator Feinstein. The lawyer, Steven P. Braccini, additionally recommended that Katherine Feinstein, a former Superior Courtroom decide in San Francisco who’s now on the town’s fireplace fee, was appearing out of non-public pursuits and never out of these of her mom.

“My purchasers are perplexed by this submitting,” Mr. Braccini mentioned in a press release. “Richard Blum’s belief has by no means denied any disbursement to Senator Feinstein, not to mention for medical bills.”

Katherine Feinstein didn’t reply to requests for remark.

The assertion mentioned that the trustees haven’t been supplied with documentation displaying that Katherine Feinstein had been appointed energy of legal professional. And, in an obvious try to lift questions on Senator Feinstein’s capability to signify her personal pursuits within the lawsuit, it mentioned: “Nor has Katherine made it clear, both on this submitting or on to my purchasers, why a sitting United States senator would require somebody to have energy of legal professional over her.”

The assertion went on: “Whereas my purchasers are deeply involved, all of us stay hopeful that that is merely a misunderstanding that may be rapidly resolved, quite than a stepdaughter partaking in some type of misguided try to achieve management over belief property to which she just isn’t entitled.”

Regardless of the household’s wealth, associates mentioned, there was some anxiousness over the distribution of property and issues from the senator and her daughter about the price of the in depth house care that Senator Feinstein has required, which will not be lined by insurance coverage.

When she was homebound in San Francisco recovering from shingles, housekeepers and residential well being aides cared for Senator Feinstein full time beneath her daughter’s oversight, in accordance with greater than a half dozen household associates and advisers who requested to stay nameless as a result of they weren’t approved to publicly talk about the senator’s household affairs.

When she returned to work earlier this yr, a longstanding well being aide accompanied Senator Feinstein to Washington, two associates mentioned. The senator’s daughter and son-in-law have helped her handle her private funds for a few years, the chums added.

Adam Russell, a consultant for Senator Feinstein, mentioned, “It is a non-public authorized matter. Senator Feinstein and her workplace gained’t have any remark.”

Willie Brown, a former mayor of San Francisco and a longtime good friend of the Feinstein household, mentioned that the feud over funds in all probability displays longstanding animosity between Katherine Feinstein and Mr. Blum’s three daughters. “There wouldn’t have been any subject, frankly, if there was mutual love between all of the individuals,” he mentioned.

Mr. Brown continued, “I frankly would depend upon the readability of thought that the daughter has demonstrated prior to now.” He referred to as Katherine Feinstein a “sensible lady, an excellent decide” and mentioned she “wouldn’t have taken no matter steps she has taken with out some severe must have that carried out, frankly, on behalf of her mom.”


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