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Politics & Policy

Sen. Dianne Feinstein sues to access money to pay medical bills

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein arrives for a Senate briefing on China at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on February 15, 2023. | Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Sen. Dianne Feinstein filed a lawsuit Monday claiming she has been barred from accessing money in a trust created by her late husband that would help pay for medical bills related to a debilitating case of shingles that kept her away from Congress for months.

Feinstein’s late husband Richard Blum, a wealthy investor who died of cancer in February 2022, set up a marital trust for her in the event of his death in 1996, according to the lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court

The filing seeks to appoint the senator’s daughter, Katherine Feinstein, who is also noted as serving as an attorney on her mother’s behalf, as the trustee overseeing the disbursement of funds. 

“Senator Feinstein has incurred significant medical expenses, and she submitted a request to whom she believed to be the trustees of the 1996 Marital Trust for reimbursement of her medical bills,” the lawsuit states. “Despite the settlor’s intent to support his spouse after his death, the purported trustees have refused to make distributions to reimburse Senator Feinstein’s medical expenses.”

The lawsuit states that Feinstein received a notification in June that Mark Vorsatz, global Chairman and CEO at Andersen Tax, had submitted his resignation as co-trustee months earlier in March, and that departure took effect in mid-April. The notification added that the co-trustees going forward would be Mark R. Klein and Marc T. Scholvinck, both of whom previously worked with Blum.

However, Feinstein’s lawsuit claims that Vorsatz’s role as trustee should have terminated after Blum’s death, and two other men—Richard W. Canady and Gary Wilson—were supposed to assume the role of co-trustees, assuming that Vorsatz was properly appointed to the role when Blum was still alive.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Steven P. Braccini, an attorney for Klein and Scholvinck, wrote in an email that his clients were “perplexed” by the lawsuit, saying Sen. Feinstein was never denied any disbursement of funds. He added he had not seen evidence that Katherine Feinstein, who was a stepdaughter to Blum, has been granted power of attorney over her mother.

Braccini reportedly told the Times in an email that it’s unclear “why a sitting United States senator would require someone to have power of attorney over her.” He suggested this could be case of “a stepdaughter engaging in some kind of misguided attempt to gain control over trust assets to which she is not entitled.”

The lawsuit claims the senator is entitled to the entire net income of the trust and she should receive quarterly installments in which the trustee “may pay or apply principal for her health, education, support, or maintenance.”

Feinstein, who is 90 years old and has served in the Senate for 31 years, took a three-month leave of absence from Congress to deal with a case of shingles that left her hospitalized. 

She returned in May, but questions about her health—and her mental acuity, in particular—have persisted. Earlier this year, Feinstein announced she will not seek reelection in 2024.

The senator’s extended absence prompted Reps. Ro Khanna and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to call for Feinstein—the longest-serving current member of the Senate—to resign. Reps. Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee and Katie Porter are running to succeed her in the Senate.

Correction: This story has been updated to note that Katherine Feinstein was Richard Blum’s stepdaughter. Her mother, Dianne Feinstein, is 90 years old. 

Josh Koehn can be reached at