Daughter Has Power of Attorney Over Congress' Oldest Member

Questions arise at revelation over control of Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's legal affairs
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2023 12:08 PM CDT
Daughter Has Power of Attorney Over Congress' Oldest Member
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks during a confirmation hearing on July 12 on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)

Dianne Feinstein turned 90 last month, but the Democratic senator is still punching in for duty on Capitol Hill, despite not-so-subtle whispers about her cognitive abilities and overall health. Now, a new revelation has emerged via the New York Times, which reports that Feinstein's only child, 66-year-old daughter Katherine Feinstein, holds power of attorney over her mother's legal affairs, and that she has filed two lawsuits against the elder Feinstein's co-trustees. That information emerged amid a larger narrative in the Times on a dispute between the Feinsteins and Dianne Feinstein's three stepdaughters over the estate of her late husband, Richard Blum.

The complaints filed on Dianne Feinstein's behalf argue that the senator's two co-trustees—a Blum lawyer and the CFO of his private equity firm—weren't properly appointed; that they held back funds from Blum's insurance to take care of Feinstein's medical needs; and that Feinstein has the right to sell a summer beach house that's fallen into disrepair. Steve Braccini, an attorney for the co-trustees, notes his clients are "perplexed" they've been sued. He adds that he's seen no proof that the younger Feinstein has power of attorney, "nor has Katherine made it clear, either in this filing or directly to my clients, why a sitting United States senator would require someone to have power of attorney over her." A Feinstein rep, meanwhile, tells the Times: "This is a private legal matter. Senator Feinstein and her office won't have any comment."

Insider notes the "incredible power" Feinstein still wields in the Senate, including a seat on the Intelligence Committee, which she once chaired, and the Appropriations Committee. On Twitter, now known as X, online pundits debated the import of someone else wielding control over Feinstein's affairs, reports Newsweek. "Oh hell no way. If she is not [of] sound mind to make decisions for herself then she can't make decisions for her constituents either," one commenter wrote. Another observer, however, noted, "Power of Attorney just means if Feinstein can't make health or legal decisions for whatever reason, her daughter can. She's 90 years old, it'd be irresponsible not to have a document on what happens if she is nonresponsive." (Feinstein has said she won't seek reelection in 2024, but some want her to resign sooner.)

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