- Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, from California's 8th Congressional District
- One of the wealthiest members of Congress
- A key figure in the passage of Obamacare in 2010
- Former Speaker of the House of Representatives
See also: Democratic Party Congressional Progressive Caucus
Nancy Pelosi was born on March 26, 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland, the youngest of six children. Her father, Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., served as a Democratic U.S. congressman representing Maryland's Third District from 1939-47, and as the mayor of Baltimore from 1947-59. The D'Alesandro family home was a highly politicized place when Nancy was a child, constantly replete with mounds of brochures, placards and bumper stickers bearing political messages. “Our whole lives were politics,” Pelosi said in an interview many years later. “If you entered the house, it was always campaign time, and if you went into the living room, it was always constituent time.”
Nancy Pelosi graduated with a BA from Trinity College in 1962 and then interned for Democratic U.S. Senator Daniel Brewster of Maryland before moving, with her husband (Peter Pelosi), to San Francisco in 1969. From 1977-81, Mrs. Pelosi served as Democratic Party chairwoman for Northern California. From 1981-83, she was state chair of the California Democratic Party. And in 1985 she made an unsuccessful bid to become chair of the Democratic National Committee.
During the late 1970s and early '80s, Pelosi befriended Phillip Burton, the powerful Democratic congressman who had represented California’s Eighth District (which included most of San Francisco) since 1964. When Burton died in 1983, his wife, Sala, succeeded him in office. Three years later she was diagnosed with cancer and chose Pelosi to be her successor within the party, thereby assuring Pelosi the backing of the Burtons’ political allies. Mrs. Burton died on February 1, 1987, just a month after she had begun her second full term in office. In a special election to determine who would fill Burton's now-empty House seat, Pelosi narrowly defeated San Francisco supervisor Harry Britt and took office on June 2, 1987. She has held that seat ever since.
During her 1987 congressional race, Pelosi described herself as a “rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth person in the Democratic Party.” “I’m a hardened Democrat and have never voted for a Republican in my life,” she added. In some of her campaign literature, Pelosi derided the sitting U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, as a man who “has no compassion” and “has no vision.” “For the past two decades,” she boasted, “I have battled Ronald Reagan whenever he has attempted to disenfranchise people, jeopardize our environment or risk our future.... Now as a candidate for Congress, I want to bring my longtime battle with Ronald Reagan to the floor of the House of Representatives.”
OPPOSING THE FIRST GULF WAR
During the 1990 run-up to the first Gulf War, Pelosi staunchly opposed U.S. military action against Iraq and accused President George H. W. Bush of “illegally” carrying out his “ill-conceived policy of violence.” During a speech she delivered from the House floor, Pelosi explained that her opposition to military intervention was also based, in part, on environmental considerations. “The war cloud that would result from exploding oil fields and large-scale bombing of Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other countries in the Middle East would doom the environment for many years to come,” she said.
TIES TO THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA
On November 11 1995, Pelosi and fellow Democratic Congressman Ron Dellums were the keynote speakers at a public hearing on jobs and economic insecurity in San Francisco. The event was co-sponsored by the San Francisco Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the Full Employment Coalition.
In the 1996 Congressional elections, the DSA's Political Action Committee endorsed Pelosi's candidacy. “I pride myself in being called a liberal,” Pelosi said that year. “... I don’t consider myself a moderate.”
OPPOSING WELFARE REFORM
That same year, Pelosi strongly opposed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996—the famously successful welfare-reform legislation which was a cornerstone of the Republican Party's 1994 “Contract With America.”
CO-SPONSORING A JOBS BILL FAVORED BY COMMUNIST PARTY MEMBERS
In 1997 Pelosi co-sponsored Congressman Matthew Martinez's Job Creation and Infrastructure Restoration Act, which proposed to use $250 billion in federal funds for the establishment of union-wage jobs rebuilding infrastructure (e.g., schools, hospitals, libraries, public transportation, highways, and parks). Martinez had previously introduced this bill in 1995 at the the request of the Los Angeles Labor Coalition for Public Works Jobs, whose leaders were all supporters or members of the Communist Party USA.
TIES TO THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF LA RAZA
Pelosi has long had a close relationship with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). In 1998 the organization honored her with its Congressional Award, in recognition of her work on behalf of the Latino community. NCLR president Raul Yzaguirre praised Pelosi for “her outstanding record on human and civil rights.”
PELOSI AND IRAQ (1998-2002)
On December 16, 1998, Pelosi articulated her personal belief that Iraqi dictator “Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.” In October 2002, however, she voted against authorizing President George W. Bush to invade Iraq.
PUBLIC PRAISE FOR HARDLINE COMMUNISTS
In 2001, on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the late Harry Bridges (1901-90)—a former leader of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union who was later (in 1992) exposed as having been a longtime member of the Communist Party USA's Central Committee—Pelosi honored Bridges as a man who was “beloved by the workers of this Nation, and recognized as one of the most important labor leaders in the world.” Bridges' International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen's Union, Pelosi added, was “the most progressive union of the time.” As scholar Joshua Muavichik explains, Bridges had been directly approved for his Central Committee post by the Kremlin: “This means, plain and simple, that he had devoted his life to the service of the Soviet Union and its ruler, Joseph Stalin, one of the three greatest mass murderers of all time.” Pelosi’s praise of Bridges, Muravchik adds, does not mean that Pelosi was ever a Communist, but it did illustrate “Pelosi’s wretched record in judging who are history’s good guys and who are its bad.”
In 2001 as well, Pelosi also praised another prominent Bay Area socialist, Vivian Hallinan—whose husband, Vincent Hallinan, had co-founded the National Lawyers Guild's San Francisco chapter and had run for U.S. president in 1952 on the Progressive Party (which was a Communist Party front) ticket—as “a role model for many of us” and a “pioneer” in “a wide range of progressive causes.” In Pelosi’s view, “Vivian was devoted intellectually and passionately to many causes, well before they became popularly embraced.” Accuracy In Media's Cliff Kincaid notes that “these causes included support for communists in Central America during the 1980s, when Soviet- and Cuban-backed forces were subverting Central America through violence and terrorism and fighting for control of the region.” Indeed, Pelosi's tribute specifically lauded Mrs. Hallinan for having: (a) “opposed U.S. policy in Central America” under President Reagan; (b) “befriended Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s [Communist] Sandinista leader”; and (c) met with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The Hallinan family, it should be noted, was at one time under scrutiny by the California Senate Fact-finding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities for its efforts in promoting pro-Soviet propaganda.
MINORITY WHIP, DEMOCRATIC HOUSE LEADER
In 2001 Pelosi became House Minority Whip. The following year, she was named Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives, thereby becoming the first woman in American history to lead a major party in the U.S. Congress.
CAMPAIGN TO SMEAR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
Throughout the early 2000s, Pelosi's deep contempt for President George W. Bush steadily intensified. For example, in a May 2004 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle concerning Bush and the Iraq War, she said:
“Not to get personal about it, but the president’s capacity to lead has never been there. In order to lead you have to have judgment. In order to have judgment you have to have knowledge and experience. He has none. Bush is an incompetent leader. In fact, he’s not a leader. He’s a person who has no judgment, no experience, and no knowledge on the subjects that he has to decide upon.... They [the Bush Administration] are so pathetic; they are so in denial about their own ineffectiveness.... George Bush is in over his head.... It’s hopeless for George Bush. He has made it hopeless. In the private sector he would have been long gone.... He simply doesn’t have the capacity to lead us to a resolution in Iraq. We need a new commander in chief.”
After Bush's reelection in November 2004, Pelosi consulted with Silicon Valley marketing mavens on how the Democrats might go about popularizing their brand with the voting public. The advisors recommended that Pelosi and her fellow Democrats in the House and Senate boil down their many ideas to a handful of simple principles and priorities. This resulted in the formulation of the Democrats' so-called “Partnership for America’s Future,” which consisted of six major priorities. These were: “Real Security: at Home and Overseas”; “Prosperity: Better American Jobs, and Better Pay”; “Opportunity: College Access for All”; “Energy Independence”; “Affordable Health Care”; and “Honest Leadership and Open Government.”
Pelosi's advisors lauded these six ideas but warned the congresswoman that if she were to publicly unveil them at that time, they would fail to have the desired effect. “He is the President of the United States, you’re the minority,” the advisors explained. “You have so little power. You can’t compete unless you take him down a few pegs first. That’s the way it’s done in the private sector.” Thus the first two orders of business would be for the Democrats to: (a) conduct a ruthless smear campaign designed to erode President Bush's popularity as much as possible, and (b) clearly differentiate their own agendas from those of Bush. Then—and only then—would they roll out their campaign platform, which would be called “New Direction—Six for '06.”
Pelosi put this strategy into effect in early 2005, when President Bush announced that he was in favor of allowing taxpayers the option of investing a portion of their Social Security funds in non-governmental vehicles if they wished. Pelosi and Senate minority leader Harry Reid immediately tried to foment panic among senior citizens, charging that Bush was intent on “privatizing Social Security” and bankrupting seniors through high-risk private investments.
Another key element of the Democrat smear campaign against Bush was the charge—made relentlessly—that the president had led the U.S. into a disastrously ill-conceived war which he was wholly unqualified to prosecute. In June 2005 Pelosi referred to the Iraq War as a “grotesque mistake.” On another occasion, she expanded: “The president led us into the Iraq war on the basis of unproven assertions without evidence; he embraced a radical doctrine of pre-emptive war unprecedented in our history; and he failed to build a true international coalition.”
Yet another focal point of the Democrats' smear-Bush initiative was their excoriation of the president's allegedly ineffective—and even racially insensitive—response to Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005.
Undergirding Democratic criticisms regarding each of these issues was the constant refrain—led by Pelosi—that Bush and the Republicans had created a “culture of corruption, cronyism, and incompetence.” Steadily and inexorably, as author Rochelle Schweizer writes in her 2010 book She’s the Boss: The Disturbing Truth About Nancy Pelosi, “Pelosi’s strategy of demonize-and-destroy [moved] the needle of public opinion in the Democrats’ favor.” By the summer of 2006, with the midterm elections just around the corner, Bush's approval rating was a meager 38%.
Pelosi and her advisors calculated that the time was now right to announce their “New Direction—Six for '06” platform. The results were a spectacular success for the Democrats, who took control of the House of Representatives. And Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House, a post she held until 2010, when Democrats lost their majority in Congress.
GUEST SPEAKER AT “TAKE BACK AMERICA” CONFERENCES
In 2004 and 2006, Pelosi was a guest speaker at the annual “Take Back America” conferences which were organized by the Campaign for America's Future and the Institute for Policy Studies.
ASSERTING THAT TERRORISTS WOULD LEAVE IRAQ IF THE U.S. MILITARY WOULD WITHDRAW
In a 60 Minutes interview in late 2006, Pelosi suggested that the major reason why so many terrorists were in Iraq, was because of the American military presence there. “The jihadists [are] in Iraq,” she said. “But that doesn't mean we [the U.S. military should] stay there. They'll stay there as long as we're there.”
PELOSI ON GLOBAL WARMING
After becoming Speaker of the House, Pelosi grew increasingly outspoken on the issue of global warming, a purportedly ominous phenomenon which she attributed to the carbon emissions associated with human industrial activity. Among other things, she predicted that global warming would eventually cause political volatility across the planet as refugees fleeing the effects of climate change moved from nation to nation.
Pelosi wholly discounts the ideas of those who disagree with her regarding either the reality or the genesis of global warming. Indeed, her position on the matter is as non-negotiable as religious dogma. In April 2007, for instance, Pelosi proclaimed that her environmental policies were consistent with the Old Testament scripture: “To minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.” “We must move quickly,” she added, “to honor God’s creation by reducing greenhouse gas pollution in the United States and around the world.” The method by which such an effect could best be achieved, in Pelosi's estimation, was government intervention via extensive regulations and massive taxes on polluters.
In the summer of 2008, Pelosi again gave voice to her impatience with anyone whose view on global warming differed from her own. When Republicans fought to lift the moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration, the congresswoman declared: “I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet. I will not have this debate trivialized by [the Republicans’] excuse for their failed policy.”
Notably, Rochelle Schweizer points out that “Pelosi’s drive to hammer Big Oil has a flip side” rooted in her own quest for personal profit. Writes Schweizer: “[Pelosi] has invested in green companies such as Clean Energy Fuels Corporation [owned by oilman T. Boone Pickens], purchasing shares valued at $50,000 to $100,000 in an auction when Pickens publicly launched Clean Energy, in May 2007. In short, the Speaker stands to profit personally from the anti-oil, pro-green energy policies she has pushed as House Speaker.”
OPPOSING THE MILITARY SURGE OF 2007
In January 2007, Pelosi strongly opposed President Bush's decision to deploy an additional 21,500 troops in a military “surge” designed to turn the tide of the Iraq War—which had devolved into a bloody quagmire—back in America's favor. Along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the House Speaker condemned the plan: “Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain.” Instead, Pelosi called for “the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months.”
In February 2008 Pelosi declared the surge a “failure” that had “not produced the desired effect.” But in fact, the surge proved to be a monumentally important strategy that finally enabled the U.S. to emerge victorious in the war. Prior to the surge, it had not been uncommon for 3,000 or more Iraqi civilians and security-force members to die at the hands of terrorist violence during any given month. By May 2008, the monthly mortality figure stood at 19, and it then fluctuated between 7 and 25 deaths per month over the ensuing 14 months.
PELOSI APPOINTS A SENIOR POLICY ANALYST OF GEORGE SOROS
On February 8, 2007, Pelosi appointed Joseph Onek, a senior policy analyst for George Soros's Open Society Institute, to be her senior counsel.
MISEPRESENTING OFFICIAL U.S. AND ISRAELI POLICY IN AN UNAUTHORIZED TRIP TO SYRIA
In April 2007 Pelosi traveled to Damascus to discuss foreign-policy issues with Syrian President Bashar Assad. She made this trip against the wishes of President Bush, who said that it sent “mixed messages” and undermined U.S. policy vis à vis what he called “a state sponsor of terror.” Pelosi's purpose for making the trip was to pressure the Bush administration to open up a direct dialogue with the Syrian government. After her meeting with Assad, the congresswoman told reporters: “We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace.”
Former State Department official Robert F. Turner saw Pelosi's Damascus trip as a felonious violation of the Logan Act of 1798, which calls for a prison sentence of up to three years for any American who, “without authority of the United States,” tries to influence a foreign government's behavior as regards any “disputes or controversies with the United States.”
After her trip to Syria, Pelosi also told reporters: “[Our] meeting with the president [Assad] enabled us to communicate a message from [Israeli] Prime Minister Olmert that Israel was ready to engage in peace talks as well.” But in fact, Olmert had conveyed no such sentiment. Israel's position remained what it always had been: its participation in peace talks with Syria was contingent upon the latter ending its support for terrorism.
SPEAKING TO THE YOUTH ARM OF THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS
In June 2007, Pelosi was a featured speaker at the third annual National Student Conference of Campus Progress, the youth arm of the Center for American Progress.
CALLING PRESIDENT BUSH “A TOTAL FAILURE”
In July 2008 Pelosi characterized President Bush as “a total failure” who had lost “all credibility with the American people on the war, on the economy, on energy, [and any other issue].”
ABORTION AND PELOSI'S CATHOLIC FAITH
In 2008, Pelosi sparked controversy by asserting that “doctors of the [Catholic] Church” were in disagreement over when exactly human life begins, and stating that abortion “continues to be an issue of controversy” in the Church. In response to Pelosi's utterly unfounded claims, a number of U.S. bishops publicly scolded the congresswoman and pointed out that the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion dated back to the first century.
Pelosi has repeatedly cited the doctrine of free will as a justification for choosing abortion. On January 13, 2010, San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer stated outright that Pelosi's claim was “entirely incompatible with Catholic teaching.”
At a June 2013 press conference, a Weekly Standard reporter asked Pelosi to clarify her position on abortion in the wake of the recent trial of Kermit Gosnell, an abortionist who was convicted of killing a number of newborn babies after they had survived attempted abortions. “What is the moral difference between what Dr. Gosnell did to a baby born alive at 23 weeks and aborting her moments before birth?” the reporter asked. Pelosi dismissed the question and equated Gosnell’s actions with pro-life activists’ condemnation of abortion. “What was done in Philadelphia was reprehensible and everybody condemned it,” she said. “For them to decide to disrespect a judgment a woman makes about her reproductive health is reprehensible. Next question.” When pressed for an answer, Pelosi said: “As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics. And that’s where you’re taking it and I’m not going there.”
In response to Pelosi's comments, Father Frank Pavone, the national director of the pro-life group Priests for Life, wrote Pelosi an open letter saying:
“Public servants are supposed to be able to tell the difference between serving the public and killing the public. Apparently, you can’t. Otherwise, you would have been able to explain the difference between a legal medical procedure that kills a baby inside the womb and an act of murder.... Abortion is not sacred ground; it is sacrilegious ground. To imagine God giving the slightest approval to an act that dismembers a child he created is offensive to both faith and reason. And to say that a question about the difference between a legal medical procedure and murder should not ‘have anything to do with politics’ reveals a profound failure to understand your own political responsibilities, which start with the duty to secure the God-given right to life of every citizen. Whatever Catholic faith you claim to respect and practice, it is not the faith that the Catholic Church teaches. And I speak for countless Catholics when I say that it’s time for you to stop speaking as if it were.”
PELOSI'S PROFLIGATE SPENDING OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS
In April 2009, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), a non-partisan government watchdog group, named Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as its 2008 “Porkers of the Year” because of their consistent record of fiscal irresponsibility.
In her 2010 book She's the Boss: The Disturbing Truth About Nancy Pelosi, author Rochelle Schweizer writes:
“In 2009, Pelosi dropped $30,610 of taxpayer money on food and beverage, $2,740 on bottled water and, between June and October alone, $2,993 on flowers. She also spent $5,000 on flowers as House minority leader in 2006. Granted, these expenses, though excessive, involve legitimate factors like schmoozing dignitaries and officials, as Pelosi’s congressional offices are apt to remind critics. But what about a $10,000 contract she paid to have former Clinton White House speechwriter Heather Hurlburt write the speech she would deliver before the Israeli Knesset? Or the 51 workers on her payroll during the third quarter of 2006, compared with the 35 people [whom previous House Speaker Dennis] Hastert employed?”
In December 2009 Pelosi led at least 20 members of Congress (and many of their spouses and children) on an all-expenses-paid trip to attend a global-warming summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. The delegation was so large, that three military jets were required to transport its members. A number of senators and staffers also made the trip, courtesy of taxpayer dollars, via commercial airliners, and many of them stayed at 5-star hotels in Copenhagen. Although Pelosi was personally responsible for deciding who went the summit, she subsequently refused to answer any reporters' questions regarding the cost of the trip.
According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, during 2008-09 Pelosi incurred expenses of some $2.1 million for her use of Air Force jets for travel—including $101,429 for in-flight expenses such as food and alcohol. She regularly used Air Force aircraft to travel back-and-forth between Washington and her home district, at an average cost of $28,210.51 per flight. And, of 103 Pelosi-led congressional delegations during the two-year period, 31 trips included members of her family.
PELOSI'S LIES ABOUT WATERBOARDING
In the aftermath of the Bush administration, Pelosi repeatedly characterized waterboarding—an enhanced-interrogation technique which the CIA had used on a handful of high-value terrorist suspects during the Bush years—as a form of torture that was wholly incompatible with American values and unacceptable under any circumstances. Moreover, she called for punitive action against those in the Bush administration who had deemed waterboarding appropriate. In response to suggestions that Pelosi herself may actually have been aware of waterboarding's use for several years, the congresswoman told reporters on April 23, 2009: “We were not—I repeat—were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used. What they did tell us is that they had some … Office of [Legal] Counsel opinions, that they could be used, but not that they would.”
Then, in May 2009 it was learned that as early as September 2002, the CIA had actually briefed Pelosi herself about its use of waterboarding in certain circumstances, and that the congresswoman had never subsequently raised any objection. Pelosi responded to these reports by accusing the CIA of “misleading the Congress of the United States.” “They mislead us all the time,” she said.
Then it was learned that in February 2003—six months after Pelosi's September 2002 briefing—one of Pelosi's top aides, Michael Sheehy: (a) had attended a CIA briefing in which the actual mechanics of waterboarding were described in detail, and in which it was revealed that waterboarding had been used on al Qaeda operational planner Abu Zubaydah; and (b) had told Pelosi what had been discussed in the briefing. Pelosi finally acknowledged all this in a tense press conference on May 14, 2009.
PELOSI SPEAKS AT A CAMPUS PROGRESS CONFERENCE
In July 2009 in Washington, DC, Pelosi spoke at a Campus Progress Conference on terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Other speakers included Bill Clinton, Kathleen Sebelius, and Van Jones.
THE FIGHT FOR OBAMACARE
Pelosi has long depicted her political opponents as heartless monsters and/or uninformed fools. Recall, for instance, how she trivialized the views of Republicans who disagreed with her regarding global warming (see above). The congresswoman treats her opponents on the issue of healthcare with the same dismissive contempt. “Listen, I go on the floor of the House every day and deal with people who don’t want to give health care to poor little children in America,” she once said during the effort to pass Obamacare into law. “We’re trying to get a job done.”
Because she holds her adversaries in such low regard, Pelosi is quite comfortable with the process of trying to forcibly ram legislation through the political pipeline. “Nancy really doesn’t care about Republicans, because she doesn’t believe the whole bi-partisan thing exists,” says one of Pelosi’s close associates. “Her attitude is, ‘God bless their souls, but these people … just don’t agree with us.’” This attitude was clearly on display in January 2010, when Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid were leading the rancorous process by which Democrats were seeking to pass healthcare reform. At that time, Pelosi articulated her determination to enact the new legislation: “You go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole-vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. But we’re going to get health care reform passed for the American people.”
In the summer of 2009, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter asked Pelosi whether she believed that there was “legitimate grass-roots opposition” to the Democrats' healthcare plan. Characterizing that opposition as something contrived by wealthy Republican elites rather than ordinary Americans, Pelosi replied, “I think they are Astroturf”—a term connoting her adversaries' alleged lack of authenticity. She then likened conservatives who had been heckling pro-Obamacare Democrats at town hall meetings, to Nazis: “They're carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on healthcare.”
On another occasion (in September 2009), Pelosi compared vocal opponents of Obamacare to people who had committed violence in the congresswoman's hometown many years earlier. In an emotional news conference, with her voice breaking, Pelosi said: “I have some concerns about some of the language being used, because I saw this myself in the late '70s in San Francisco; this kind of rhetoric was very frightening, and it created a climate where violence took place.” She was referring to the 1978 killings of Harvey Milk (the first openly gay member of the city's board of supervisors) and progressive mayor George Moscone.
In October 2009, a CNS News reporter asked Pelosi, “Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?” Unable to answer the question, Pelosi simply dismissed it and said: “Are you serious? Are you serious?” When the reporter replied that he was in fact serious, Pelosi shook her head and proceeded to take a question from another reporter. Pelosi's press spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, later told CNS News: “You can put this on the record. That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question.”
One of the ways in which Pelosi tried to advance the Democrat healthcare-reform bill was by claiming that much of it could be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy. As Rochelle Schweizer notes:
“How [Pelosi] developed the income surcharge reveals how passing her agenda expeditiously was more important than any numbers related to the solvency of the plan. Initially the new taxes would strike adjusted gross incomes of $280,000 for individuals and $350,000 or more for families. Pelosi said, 'I’d like it to go higher than it is.' She wanted to raise the thresholds to $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for families so she could call it a 'millionaire’s tax.' Pelosi explained, 'When someone hears, two, they think, Oh, I could be there, because they don’t know the $280,000 is for one person. It sounds like you’re in the neighborhood. So I just want to remove all doubt. You hear $500,000 a year, you think, My God, that’s not me.'”
In January 2010, Pelosi did everything in her power to help President Obama violate the pledge he had made during the 2008 campaign, when he had told voters that “we’ll have [health-care reform] negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so the people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who is making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.” In early January 2010, Pelosi announced that the House and Senate would devise the final healthcare bill “behind closed doors, according to an agreement by top Democrats.”
In March 2010, Pelosi stated that she wished to avoid a House vote on healthcare reform because the legislation would surely be defeated in that chamber. “Nobody wants to vote for the Senate bill,” she said. Thus she supported the so-called "Slaughter solution." Under this plan, the House would vote on a procedural motion—that is, the “rule” that is supposed to govern debate on a matter going before the House. In this case, a “self-executing rule” would be used that would “deem” the Senate version of ObamaCare to have been passed. Thus lawmakers would be able to vote to approve the Senate version of the healthcare legislation—complete with unpopular add-ons such as Senator Ben Nelson’s "Cornhusker Kickback" and Senator Mary Landrieu’s "Louisiana Purchase"—and then be able to tell their constituents that technically all they had done was approve a procedural motion.
Also in March 2010, Pelosi told the National Association of Counties' annual legislative conference: “You’ve heard about the controversies, the process about the bill ... but I don’t know if you’ve heard that it is legislation for the future—not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America. But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it—away from the fog of the controversy.”
In a March 2010 interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Pelosi explained how Obamacare would liberate many Americans to pursue their dreams: “Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer, a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance. Or that people could start a business and be entrepreneurial and take risks, but not be job-locked because a child has a child has asthma or diabetes or someone in the family is bipolar. You name it, any condition is job-locking.”
Pelosi would subsequently revisit this theme numerous times:
- In May 2010 she said that Obamacare was “an entrepreneurial bill, a bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care.”
- In February 2014 the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report indicating that Obamacare would result in a net loss of some 2.3 million jobs nationwide within seven years. The report said that because Obamacare gives substantial subsidies to people below certain income thresholds—subsidies that are funded by all the people above those thresholds—many Americans would choose to work less, or to not work at all, in order to limit their incomes and thus continue to have their healthcare subsidized. Pelosi depicted the CBO report as something positive, telling reporters: “What we see is that [thanks to Obamacare] people are leaving their jobs because they are no longer job-locked. They are following their aspirations to be a writer; to be self-employed; to start a business. This is the entrepreneurial piece. So it’s not going to cost jobs. It’s going to shift how people make a living and reach their aspirations.... [T]his was one of the goals. To give people life, a healthy life, liberty to pursue their happiness. And that liberty is to not be job-locked, but to follow their passion.”
- In a February 5, 2014 news release, Pelosi again emphasized: “Yesterday, the CBO projected that by 2021 the Affordable Care Act will enable more than 2 million workers to escape 'job-lock'—the situation where workers remain tied to employers for access to health insurance benefits.”
Addressing a group of bloggers in March 2010, Pelosi made reference to the fact that the Obamacare bill she was seeking to pass was merely the first phase of a larger effort to bring about ever-greater government control over the American medical system: “My biggest fight has been between those who wanted to do something incremental and those who wanted to do something comprehensive. We won that fight, and once we kick through this door, there'll be more legislation to follow.” Shedding further light on what such additional legislation might entail, Pelosi said: “I have supported—when I say support, [I mean] signs in the street, advocacy in legislatures—I have supported single payer [i.e., a healthcare system run entirely by the federal government] for longer than many of you have been—since you've been born, than you've lived on the face of the earth. So I think, I have always thought, that was the way to go.”
Pelosi revisited the theme of a single-payer healthcare system in October 2016 when, in response to a reporter who asked whether she was concerned about the high cost of Obamacare premiums, which were unaffordable for many middle-class people who did not qualify for government subsidies, she said: “I wanted single-payer. I mean, I wanted a—I’d love a single-payer, but we’re not—I wanted a public option, which would address that. But we’ve never done anything, whether it was Social Security, Medicare and the rest where we haven’t said how does this— let’s see how it works, and let’s improve it. But no, I wouldn’t worry about that.”
GUEST SPEAKER AT GREEN JOBS CONFERENCE
In May 2010 Pelosi was a guest speaker at a green-jobs conference of the Blue Green Alliance.
At the Catholic Community Conference on Capitol Hill on May 6, 2010, Pelosi said that she had told Catholic cardinals, archbishops, and bishops to speak about the importance of comprehensive “immigration reform” from their pulpits, and to tell their parishioners that such reform would serve as “a manifestation of our living the gospels.” At the same event, Pelosi suggested that her religious beliefs regularly influenced her public-policy decisions on a wide range of issues, including immigration: “My favorite word is the Word, is the Word.... And ... we have to give voice to what that means in terms of public policy that would be in keeping with the values of the Word.”
In 2013, Pelosi was one of 28 California congressional representatives (all Democrats) who supported the Trust Act, state legislation designed to make it more difficult to deport immigrants residing in the U.S. illegally. The 28 Democrats sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown urging him to sign the bill if it reached his desk.
In a December 2013 interview with Telemundo regarding immigration law, Pelosi said: “Our view of the law is that ... if somebody is here without sufficient documentation, that is not reason for deportation. If somebody has broken the law, committed a felony or something, that’s a different story.” Pelosi's position was contrary to federal law, which holds that those who are in the U.S. without authorization—either because they illegally crossed the border or they overstayed their visas—are deportable. Drew Hammill, Mrs. Pelosi’s spokesman, called the Speaker's comments “a restatement of her long-held belief that being an undocumented immigrant is not a basis for deportation.” Hammill also asserted that Pelosi wished to pass a new law legalizing illegal immigrants in order to put to rest all controversy about the matter. Pelosi added: “I think that there is discretion in the law as to the implementation, enforcement of the legislation that is calling for these deportations.”
In an April 2014 interview with Politico, Pelosi likened the deportation of foreigners living illegally in the United States to the forced internment of some 110,000 ethnic-Japanese Americans during World War II. Said Pelosi:
“I’ll be very honest with you: Looking at the numbers at some point, in terms of how people are treated and deported and families separated and the rest, this has a scent of Japanese internment. It’s really a black mark.... I believe that if [immigration] status is the violation, then that should not be even in the scheme of things as to whether somebody would be deported or else you would be deporting 11 million people, which doesn’t make any sense.”
In June 2014—in the midst of a sudden, massive influx across America's southern border by more than 50,000 unaccompanied, illegal-immigrant minors hailing from Central America—Pelosi visited a holding place (for the border-crossers) in southern Texas and then made the following remarks:
“What we just saw was so stunning. If you believe as we do that every child, every person, has a spark of divinity in them and is therefore worthy of respect, what we saw in those rooms was [a] dazzling, sparkling array of God's children, worthy of respect. So we have to use ... the crisis ... as an opportunity to show who we are as Americans, that we do respect people for their divinity and worth....”
Suggesting that America and Mexico were not entities entirely distinct from one another, Pelosi also said: “This is a community with a border going through it.” Moreover, she indicated that she wanted to become personally involved with caring for the children: “I'm a mother of five. I have nine grandchildren. I wish that I could take all those children home with me.”
In a July 2014 appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe program, Pelosi again addressed the issue of the young people who were illegally crossing the border into the U.S.: “I reference the Conference of Bishops' statement in which they say baby Jesus was a refugee from violence. Let us not turn away these children and send them back into a burning building. That's the bishops, so we have to do this in a way that honors our values but also protects our border and does so in a way that the American people understand more clearly.”
During a House debate on August 2, 2014, Republican lawmakers moved to pass a border-security bill as well as legislation designed to end President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which permitted hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants under age 30—and who first came to the U.S. as minors—to remain in America without fear of being deported. Pelosi reacted angrily to a floor speech from Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pennsylvania). “You know something that I find quite interesting about the other side?” Marino said. “Under the leadership of the former Speaker [Pelosi], and under the leadership of their former leader [Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland)]—when in 2009 and 2010, they had the House, the Senate and the White House, and they knew this problem existed. They didn’t have the strength to go after it back then. But now are trying to make a political issue out of it now.” Soon after Marino made those remarks, Pelosi stood up and shouted at him off-microphone, wagging her finger at him and calling him an “insignificant person.” Afterward, Marino said: “If she considers another elected member of Congress insignificant, I can only imagine what she thinks of the millions of hard working Americans who send us to Washington with the simple expectation that we work to secure our borders.”
SPEAKING AT AN “AMERICA'S FUTURE NOW” CONFERENCE
In June 2010, Pelosi was a guest speaker at an “America's Future Now” Conference hosted by the Campaign for America's Future and the Institute for Policy Studies.
PELOSI CALLS UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AN ECONOMIC “STIMULUS”
In July 2010, Pelosi stated that unemployment insurance “is one of the biggest stimuluses to the economy.” “Economists will tell you,” she continued, “this money is spent quickly. It injects demand into the economy and is job-creating. It creates jobs faster than almost any other initiative you can name, because again, it is money that is needed for families to survive, and it is spent. So it has a double benefit. It helps those who've lost their jobs, but it also is a job creator.” Pelosi would reiterate these themes in December 2011.
SUPPORTING THE “GROUND ZERO MOSQUE”
In August 2010, Pelosi spoke out in favor of Faisal Abdul Rauf's Cordoba Initiative, a proposal to build a 13-story, $100 million Islamic Center just 600 feet from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan. Criticizing opponents of the project, the congresswoman said: “There is no question that there is a concerted effort to make this a political issue by some. And I join those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque being funded [and] ginned up.”
SUPPORTING BIG GOVERNMENT AND WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION
In an October 2010 speech to the United Steelworkers union, Pelosi gave voice to her unwavering belief in big government and wealth redistribution: “We're talking about addressing the disparity in our country of income, where the wealthy people continue to get wealthier and some other people are falling out of the middle class when we want to bring many more people into the middle class, But that disparity is not just about wages alone. That disparity is about ownership and equity. Its all about fairness in our country.”
HYPOCRISY REGARDING THE KILLING OF OSAMA BIN LADEN
On May 3, 2011, after it was announced that U.S. Navy SEALs had located and killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Pelosi said the following: “The death of Osama bin Laden marks the most significant development in our fight against al-Qaeda.... I salute President Obama, his national security team, Director Panetta, our men and women in the intelligence community and military, and other nations who supported this effort for their leadership in achieving this major accomplishment.... [T]he death of Osama bin Laden is historic....”
Those remarks, however, were a stark contrast to what Pelosi had said on September 7, 2006, when she derided President George W. Bush for allegedly having become distracted from the goal of finding bin Laden: “[E]ven if [Osama bin Laden] is caught tomorrow, it is five years too late. He has done more damage the longer he has been out there. But, in fact, the damage that he has done, is done. And even to capture him now I don’t think makes us any safer.”
SUPPORTING OCCUPY WALL STREET
In October 2011, Pelosi expressed support for the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street movement which was spreading to numerous cities across the United States. Said Pelosi: “God bless them for their spontaneity. It's independent ... it's young, it's spontaneous, and it's focused. And it's going to be effective.... The message of the protesters is a message for the establishment everyplace. No longer will the recklessness of some on Wall Street cause massive joblessness on Main Street.”
PELOSI AND ISLAMISTS
In May 2012, Pelosi appointed Faiz Shakir, a former member of the Harvard Islamic Society and the longtime editor-in-chief of ThinkProgress, to be her senior advisor and media director.
On May 16, 2012, Pelosi headlined a high-dollar fundraiser that was attended by U.S.-based Islamist groups and individuals affiliated with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. One of the donors at the event was Nihad Awad, co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
In January 2013, Pelosi appointed Nadeam Elshami, her longtime communications director, to be her chief of staff. Elshami had formerly worked for Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). Elshami’s Egyptian mother, Zainab Elberry, is a Tennessee-based Muslim activist who lobbied for construction of a mega-mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; supported the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak; and helped organize the radical Islamic Center of Nashville.
PELOSI ON GOVERNMENT SPENDING AND TAXES
In a February 10, 2013 television interview, Pelosi said it would be wrong for the federal government to cut any funding for such items as education, science, and food safety. She claimed that America's budget deficit “isn't so much a spending problem as it is a priorities [problem]”—i.e., the items on which tax dollars are spent. In the same interview, she said it was “almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem.” Rather, she explained, there was “a government deficit problem”—the implication being that additional tax revenues were needed. The following day, White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked whether President Obama agreed with Pelosi's assertion. Carney replied, “Of course, the president believes that we have a spending problem,” adding that the problem was “specifically driven” by health care spending.
In March 2013, Pelosi categorized tax breaks for businesses as forms of “spending” that needed to be cut:
“Tax cuts are spending. Our whole budget is what, $3.5 trillion? So, when we talk about reducing spending, we certainly must, and we certainly have--$1.6 trillion in the previous Congress, $1.2 of it in the Budget Control Act. But spending is subsidies for big oil, subsidies to send jobs overseas, breaks to send jobs overseas, breaks for corporate jets. They are called tax expenditures. Spending money on tax breaks. And that’s the spending that we must curtail as well.”
In a September 22, 2013 interview with CNN, Pelosi stated that Republican-led efforts to rein in government spending were pointless because there was nothing left to cut in the $3.8 trillion federal budget. “The cupboard is bare,” she said. “There’s no more cuts to make. It’s really important that people understand that. We cannot have cuts just for the sake of cuts.”
LYING ABOUT OBAMACARE
At a June 6, 2013 press conference, Pelosi responded to news reports that, contrary to earlier claims by Barack Obama and Pelosi herself, Obamacare would cause health insurance premiums to rise dramatically for many people purchasing their own insurance in the individual market: “I don't remember saying that everybody in the country would have a lower premium.” But in fact, during a July 1, 2012 appearance on Meet The Press, Pelosi had stated that because of Obamacare “everybody will have lower rates.”
In November 2013—amid immense public outrage over the fact that Obamacare regulations were, contrary to the repeated assurances of President Obama and the Democrats, forcing insurers to cancel the existing healthcare plans of millions of Americans—Pelosi was asked whether she owed an apology to the formerly insured who had been misled. She replied, “Did I ever tell my constituents that if they liked their plan they could keep it? I would have if I’d ever met anybody who liked his or her plan. But that was not my experience.”
ADVOCATING A U.S. MILITARY ATTACK ON SYRIA
On September 3, 2013, Pelosi explained to reporters why a U.S. military attack on Syria, where more than 100,000 people had already been killed during a 30-month civil war that continued to rage, was now justified by the fact that the Syrian regime had apparently used chemical weapons to kill some 1,400 people (including perhaps 400 children) on August 21. Said the congresswoman:
“My five-year-old grandson, as I was leaving San Francisco yesterday, he said to me, Mimi, my name, Mimi: War with Syria. Are you yes war with Syria, [or] no war with Syria. Now he's five years old. And war, he's saying war. I mean, we're not talking about war; we're talking about an action. Yes war with Syria, no with war in Syria? I said, 'Well, what do you think?' He said, 'I think no war.' I said, 'Well, I generally agree with that, but you know, they have killed hundreds of children, they've killed hundreds of children.' And he said, five years old, 'Were these children in the United States?' And I said, 'No, but they're children wherever they are.'
“So I don't know what news he's listening to or—but even a five year old child has to—you know, with the wisdom of our interest, how does it affect our interest. Well, it affects our interests because, again, it was outside of the circle of civilized behavior. It was, humanity drew a line decades ago that I think if we ignore, we do so to the peril of many other people who could suffer.”
PELOSI ON HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR ABORTIFACIENTS
In July 2014, Pelosi reacted angrily to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which upheld the religious rights of companies not to offer health-insurance coverage for certain forms of birth control (i.e., “emergency contraception” that some people consider to be abortifacients). “That court decision was a frightening one,” said Pelosi, “that five men should get down to specifics of whether a woman should use a diaphragm and [whether] she should pay for it herself, or her boss. It's not her boss' business. The business is whatever his business is, but it's not what contraception she uses.”
Fox News coomentator Megyn Kelly subsequently offered her legal analysis of Pelosi’s attempt to “stoke resentment,” noting that in 1973 Roe v. Wade was decided by a majority of men: “Does Ms. Pelosi think those justices were ill-equipped to fairly decide that case? Or is it only when a judge disagrees with Ms. Pelosi that his gender is an issue. If Speaker John Boehner made a similar comment about the female Supreme Court justices, Nancy Pelosi would be crying sexism—and that’s what she is guilty of here.” Calling Pelosi’s claim a “gross misrepresentation,” Kelly added: “News flash: all birth control that was legal before this decision remains legal today. The high court simply found that a religious freedom law which was co-sponsored by none other than—wait for it—Nancy Pelosi, sometimes protects corporations from being forced to violate their religious beliefs.”
PELOSI ON THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT
In late July 2014, while the Israeli Defense Forces were engaged in a significant military operation designed to stop the terror group Hamas's relentless firing of potentially deadly rockets from Gaza into Israel, Pelosi was interviewed by CNN's Candy Crowley. In the course of the interview, Pelosi said that the U.S. must look to Qatar, a staunch ally and funder of Hamas, for advice in bringing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to a peaceful end. Said the congresswoman: “[T]his has to be something where we try to have the two-state solution, that we have to support... [Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud] Abbas and his role as a leader there. We have to support Iron Dome to protect the Israelis from the missiles. We have to support the Palestinians and what they need. And we have to confer with the Qataris, who have told me over and over again that Hamas is a humanitarian organization, maybe they could use their influence to—” At that point, Crowley interrupted Pelosi to ask: “The U.S. thinks they're a terrorist organization though, correct? Do you?” Pelosi responded affirmatively: “Mmm hmm.”
OPPOSING USE OF AMERICAN TROOPS TO FIGHT "ISIS" TERRORISTS
On September 17, 2014—after the barbaric terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) had overwhelmed the Iraqi military and taken control of vast swaths of that country's territory—Pelosi said that a return of U.S. ground troops to Iraq would only exacerbate the violence. “I don’t think the American people are up for it,” she explained. “I don’t know that it would even achieve success to send troops in. But whatever it is, I’m against [troops on the ground].”
When a reporter subsequently asked what she would do if President Obama suddenly decided that a troop deployment was absolutely necessary, Pelosi replied: “Well what would be the purpose? What is the purpose? Our purpose is not to engage in civil war in Syria and our purpose is not to continue the war in Iraq—our purpose is to stop ISIS from its brutality.” She then paraphrased a quote from the late political theorist Hannah Arendt to make her point: “People think that one more act of violence is going to stop violence, but instead it’s like a flywheel that just keeps producing more violence.... The worse it gets there, the less reason I think we should send in troops. Just an endless flywheel.”
PELOSI LIES ABOUT OBAMACARE ARCHITECT JONATHAN GRUBER
In early November 2014, MIT professor Jonathan Gruber -- who, by his own account, "helped write the federal [Obmacare] bill" and "was a paid consultant to the Obama administration to help develop the technical details as well" -- became a source of great controversy when video clips of some of his past speeches on Obamacare came to public attention. Most notably, Gruber boasted that he and the Democrats had knowingly and repeatedly lied about key aspects of the legislation so as to deceive American voters, whom the professor characterized as "too stupid" to realize what was happening.
At a November 14, 2014 press conference, Pelosi tried to downplay Gruber's devastating comments by first saying that they "were a year old, and he has backtracked from most of them." Shortly thereafter she added: "I don’t know who he [Gruber] is. He didn’t help write our [Obamacare] bill. So, with all due respect to your [the reporter's] question, you have a person who wasn’t writing our bill, commenting on what was going on when we were writing the bill, who has withdrawn some of the statements that he made. So let’s put him aside."
But soon after Pelosi issued this statement, the Washington Post reported that in November and December of 2009, Pelosi’s own office had cited Gruber’s analysis of the legislation as an authoritative source substantiating Democrat claims that the bill would lower health insurance premiums for millions of people. In fact, Pelosi herself (in 2009) personally cited Gruber as an authority: "We're not finished getting all of our reports back from CBO, but we'll have a side-by-side to compare. But our bill brings down rates. I don't know if you have seen Jonathan Gruber of MIT's analysis of what the comparison is to the status quo, versus what will happen in our bill for those who seek insurance within the exchange. And our bill takes down those costs, even from now, and much less preventing the upward spiral."
When Pelosi's obvious familiarity with Gruber was reported in the media in November 2014, the congresswoman's office told the Washington Post that she had simply "meant that she didn't know Gruber personally." As Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill put it, the minority leader "said she doesn’t 'know who he is,' not that she’s 'never heard of him.'"
PELOSI CONDEMNS REPUBLICANS, BASED ON FAKE TWITTER POSTS
In February 2017, Pelosi reacted gleefully to news reports indicating that President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, General Michael Flynn, was resigning amid allegations that two months earlier -- during the period between the 2016 presidential election and the January 2017 presidential inauguration -- he had engaged in a phone conversation with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, wherein the two may have discussed the possibility of the incoming Trump administration lifting sanctions against Moscow. Then, on February 14, 2017, a pair of fake tweets -- falsely purporting to have been written by Flynn -- appeared on Twitter, saying: “While I accept full responsibility for my actions, I feel it is unfair that I have been made the sole scapegoat for what happened. But if a scapegoat is what’s needed for this administration to continue to take this great nation forward, I am proud to do my duty.” That same day, Pelosi appeared at a press conference and said the following:
"I didn't know, until I heard from our colleague [Rep. Elijah Cummings] that the tweet of General Flynn was 'scapegoat..' Scapegoat. Do you know what a scapegoat is? That means that, in a community where people want to absolve themselves of guilt, they get a goat and they heap all of the ills onto the goat, and then they run the goat out of town. So the inference to be drawn from his statement is that other people have blame that should be shared in all of this. The good news is that General Flynn is gone, because he was totally inappropriate, wrong for the job. But the questions that arise are even bigger. I have a tweet I'm going to make, I'm telling my staff right now. It's not 'scapegoat.' It's 'stonewall.' And that's exactly what the Republicans in Congress are doing.... We want to know, by what authority did General Flynn have these conversations [with Kislyak], and who did he report to after that?..."
When an aide finally whispered to Pelosi that the Flynn tweets were fake, she appeared to be stunned. “What do you mean it’s fake?” she asked.
PELOSI'S MASSIVE WEALTH, GREED, & HYPOCRISY
Pelosi is one of the wealthiest members of Congress. She and her husband have a combined net worth of more than $25 million. According to her 2011 financial disclosure statement, Pelosi received between $1 million and $5 million in partnership income from Matthews International Capital Management LLC, a group that touts its “singular focus on investing in Asia.”
Using Her Political Influence to Manipulate Taxpayer Money and Enrich Herself
In August 2014, the Washington Free Beacon revealed how Pelosi for years had used her political influence to steer more than $1 billion in taxpayer funds to a real-estate-development deal that had greatly enriched her and her husband, Paul. The details are as follows:
The Pelosis have long had a close financial relationship with Marc Benioff, the CEO of an enormous cloud-computing corporation called Salesforce. In addition to his work with Salesforce, Benioff is also a Democratic Party mega-donor who not only bundled some $500 million for President Barack Obama’s presidential reelection campaign in 2012, but also donated an additional $300,000 to Democratic candidates, party organs, and interest groups. Nancy Pelosi and her PAC have been among the recipients of Benioff's many donations.
Paul Pelosi, Nancy's husband, has been a longtime major shareholder in Salesforce. He first invested in the company in 2000, when he purchased between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in a private offering four years before Salesforce's Initial Public Offering. Then, on June 23, 2004, Salesforce debuted on the stock market at a modest $3.75 per share.
Meanwhile, in a 2004 real estate deal, Farallon Capital Management, the San Francisco hedge fund established by billionaire environmentalist and Pelosi supporter Tom Steyer, took ownership of approximately 2 million square feet of commercial space in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood. Over the next 10 years, Pelosi worked tirelessly to steer well over a billion federal taxpayer dollars—in the form of earmarks, federal funding agreements, and stimulus disbursements—to a project aimed at expanding the city’s Third Street Light Rail line in that same Mission Bay locale. This expanded rail line, which went into operation in early 2007, caused the value of Mission Bay real estate to skyrocket.
Notably, two stops along the extended light rail line were situated approximately three blocks from a four-story office building owned by Paul Pelosi—a property that generated between $100,000 and $1 million in rental income for Pelosi each year. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), high-quality mass transit like the Third Street Light Rail line can increase nearby property values by “over 150 percent.” “There’s a sweet spot for obtaining the maximum transit premium: two to four blocks away is ideal,” says NAR.
In 2010, the aforementioned Salesforce—the company in which Paul Pelosi has long been heavily invested—paid $278 million to purchase 14 acres of land in Mission Bay, within 3 or 4 blocks of the expanded Rail line, with the intention of building a new campus there. The seller was Alexandria Real Estate Equities, which had previously purchased the land from FOCIL-MB, a division of Farallon Capital Management.
In the fall of 2012, Pelosi managed to secure an astounding $967 million in federal funding for the Third Street light rail project. Just over a year-and-a-half later—in April 2014—Salesforce, abandoning its original plan to construct a new facility in Mission Bay, sold its Mission Bay land to the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association for a large profit over and above what it had paid in 2010. This meant a massive financial gain for Salesforce and its investors, one of whom was (and still is) Pelosi’s husband. As of mid-August of 2014, Salesforce was trading at almost $53 per share—roughly a sixteen-fold increase over its original price. Paul Pelosi's stake in the company at that time was worth between $500,000 and $1 million.
Choosing Profit Over the Environment and the Poor
In the early to mid-1990s there was a heated debate in San Francisco and Washington about what would be the fate of the Presidio, the former Bay Area military facility that the Pentagon was closing. Situated on 1,488 acres of spectacularly beautiful natural landscape, the land had become a major burden to taxpayers. One study estimated that closing the Presidio and giving it to the National Park Service (as occurred in 1994) could save taxpayers $74 million per year.
What would ultimately be done with the land, however, remained an open question. Some Bay Area activists wanted to convert some of the Presidio's barracks and other buildings into affordable housing units. Many environmentalists were wholly agreeable to this, so long as no new structures were built on the land. Developers, by contrast, saw this as a waste of potentially prime real estate (worth some $4 billion) and warned that turning it into low-income housing might depress property values in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Siding with the developers, Pelosi wrote legislation that allowed the Presidio to be privatized and converted into a real estate complex. Notably, the Pelosis owned several real estate investments near the Presidio, meaning that they stood to profit handsomely from any new development.
Meanwhile, the environmentalist groups that traditionally had professed deep concern about excessive development were essentially bought off with highly favorable leases on what would become some of San Francisco's most desirable and expensive commercial real estate. Peter Schweizer, author of Do As I Say, Not As I Do, writes:
“One big winner was the Tides Foundation, famous for making grants to environmentalist and radical causes. Tides was given a cheap lease on more than seventy thousand square feet at the Presidio and created a for-profit subsidiary to lease space to others at the park. They called it the Thoreau Center, and soon they attracted groups like the Wilderness Society, the Institute for Global Communications, and the Energy Foundation. Some staff members of these groups were even invited to live in renovated apartments in the park. In one instance, the executive director of a local nonprofit got to move into a house on the Presidio. These nonprofit organizations now enjoy long-term, cheap leases on some of the most prime real estate in the world.”
The story had a particularly happy outcome for the Pelosis, who in 1997—soon after the opening of the aforementioned Thoreau Center—sold one of their nearby commercial buildings for several million dollars.
Rochelle Schweizer, author of She's The Boss: The Disturbing Truth About Nancy Pelosi, writes:
“[I]n the fall of 2005, [Pelosi] abruptly took up the pro-tech banner when she met with her friend and ally John Chambers, Cisco’s president and CEO, and others to develop a plan to expand the tech industry through, among other measures, federal funding for research and education.... Pelosi’s 12-page plan aimed to double the funding for the National Science Foundation and for broadband Internet access over five years, generate 100,000 engineers, mathematicians and scientists over four years, and permanently extend and increase the research and development tax credit.”
By 2006, Cisco was creating two initiatives to combat greenhouse gas emissions. Rochelle Schweizer explains:
“One was an effort to reduce travel-related emissions at Cisco by reducing the need to travel for meetings through the development and use of high-definition virtual meeting technology (Cisco TelePresence). The other initiative was the Connected Urban Development initiative [CUD, of which a founding member was Pelosi's son, Paul Pelosi Jr.]. The CUD is an effort to 'reduce carbon emissions by introducing fundamental improvements in the efficiency of the urban infrastructure using information and communications technology.' This would reduce carbon emissions related to congestion and traffic delays. CUD established a partnership with the cities of Amsterdam, Seoul and San Francisco to pilot these technologies. It was with San Francisco that CUD partnered to create the Connected Bus, a green city bus that features free Wi-Fi and screens that can tell riders their current location, arrival time and the amount of greenhouse gases they are reducing by taking the bus.”
On September 17, 2007, all parties involved in the creation of Connected Bus made their final commitment to the project. Less than two months later—between November 7 and December 31, 2007—Pelosi made 4 purchases of Cisco stock, expanding her Cisco holdings from the $15,000-to-$50,000 range to somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million.
Pelosi subsequently attached a $980,000 earmark to the 2008 Transportation and Housing & Urban Development Bill, to be “used for the rehabilitation of approximately 10 percent” of the San Francisco Transportation Agency's bus fleet. This would allow for the production of more Cisco Connected Buses, either with earmarked funds or with cash freed up by Pelosi’s earmark.
A Self-Professed Champion of Unions, Pelosi Hires Non-Union Workers
Pelosi has long professed her deep commitment to fair labor practices for workers vunerable to exploitation. For example, she has supported the AFL-CIO's Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union and its efforts to organize across the United States. The congresswoman's self-identification as a champion of workers has won her much acclaim from some of America's most influential labor unions. As Peter Schweizer wrote in 2005:
“In early 2003, Nancy Pelosi stepped up to the podium to receive the Cesar Chavez Legacy Award from the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation. Chavez, of course, was the migrant worker and activist who founded the United Farm Workers [UFW]. As a revered icon of the labor movement (and a hero to her many Hispanic constituents), Pelosi never misses an opportunity to praise him or encourage his canonization. Pelosi wants a national holiday honoring Chavez and has nominated him several times to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. She was a grand marshal of a large San Francisco parade marking his seventy-fifth birthday, and every year she issues a statement on that day. She has declared him 'one of America’s greatest advocates for justice and equality, and a model of service to others.' She applauds his efforts 'in achieving fair wages, pension benefits and medical coverage for hundreds of thousands of working families.'”
But Schweizer, citing Pelosi's failure to hire union workers for her own business ventures, shines a bright light on the congresswoman's massive hypocrisy:
“Apparently, however, these fundamental rights do not apply to families that may be picking grapes in Pelosi’s own vineyards. Congresswoman Pelosi and her husband own a vineyard in the Napa Valley, on Zinfandel Lane in St. Helena, worth almost $25 million.... This is prime grape-growing soil, and the Pelosis make good money from their harvest, between $200,000 and $2 million a year according to financial disclosures.
“The Pelosis don’t pick the grapes themselves, of course; they hire outside firms to handle it. In recent years they have used several different harvesters, but they all have something in common: None have contracts with the UFW. The Pelosis sell their grapes to the non-union wineries Liparita Cellars and Roche. (Some of these wines made with Pelosi cabernet sauvignon grapes sell for more than $100 a bottle in restaurants.) In recent years the Pelosis have also held stakes in two other wine enterprises—Ravenswood Winery and the Charlore Wine Group (a consortium of smaller growers). Neither of these makes the UFW list as a 'union-label' company.
“The Pelosis cannot be ignorant of this. They are very familiar with the wine industry and Pelosi herself is well acquainted with Cesar Chavez’s story. The fact that they don’t insist on UFW labor when making their wine investments or picking their grapes tells us what they really think of him.
“Pelosi has made supporting labor unions a cornerstone of her public career. She says unions are absolutely necessary because 'collective bargaining efforts … have been so effective in promoting a balanced, cooperative relationship between labor and management.' She is a regular fixture at labor meetings and appears onstage at the AFL-CIO meeting every year as a keynote speaker. In 2004 she made a point of saying, 'Thank you all for fighting for America’s working families. And thank you for fighting to end the union-busting, family-hurting, exporting jobs presidency of George W. Bush.' Needless to say, organized labor has been the largest source of Pelosi’s campaign funds in the last three elections, offering up a total of $769,000 in PAC contributions.”
Pelosi and her husband also own a chain of restaurants and a luxury hotel in Napa Valley, and all of their employees at these facilities are likewise non-union.
Pelosi's Golf Course/Country Club and Its Violations of Environmental Regulations
In 1996, Pelosi, her husband, and fewer than 10 other partners wanted to build what they said would be a fully public golf course and country club on a 275-acre plot of land outside of San Jose, California, called the CordeValle Country Club. In order to get approval to build on these 275 acres, they would have to comply with some very stringent county environmental regulations. Before long, they learned that two species of animals which were very common on the land in question—the California tiger salamander and the Western pond turtle—were designated as endangered species. Under normal circumstances that did not involve one of the most influential members of the U.S. Congress, this would have meant that any type of development activity on this land was out of the question.
But the Pelosis struck an agreement with local regulators, where, in exchange for permission to build their golf course, they pledged set up some holding ponds to serve as a habitat wherein the aforementioned endangered species could survive. The golf course eventually opened in 2000 and became highly lucrative—$250,000 for private memberships and $400,000 for corporate memberships. But the Pelosis never followed through on their promise to build the holding ponds. In addition, for seven years they also failed to file any of the environmental reports required by the California Fish and Wildlife Commission. A 2004 County Environmental Compliance Report found a host of environmental problems on the Pelosis’ golf course.
Further, the Pelosis also failed to honor their commitment to make the golf course fully public. Indeed, members of the general public were finding it almost impossible to get access. When the San Jose Planning Commission issued a 2003 report suggesting that the Pelosis and Lion's Gate Limited—their golf-development partner group—had engaged in “fraud” by making pronmises it had no intention of fulfilling, the Pelosis hired some lobbyists to address the matter. These lobbyists applied strong pressure on the Planning Commission, which ultimately agreed to drop its objections and simply asked the Pelosis to hold a children's-charity golf tournament at their facility once a year.
Hypocrisy on Job Outsourcing
Saying that “all American workers deserve a chance at the American dream,” Rep. Pelosi has long condemned the outsourcing of “manufacturing jobs” to foreign countries by allegely greedy corporations. But the Pelosis' investment portfolio containds no investments in any domestic manufacturing companies. Instead it has extensive holdings in dozens of companies—e.g., Cisco, Sun Microsystems, Apogee Networks, and Netclerk—that outsource jobs and have non-unionized workforces.
On April 19, 2007—just three months after Pelosi had become Speaker of the House and had vowed to cleanse Congress of its corruption—the House passed a water resources bill which included a $25 million Pelosi earmark to fund renovations in the Embarcadero port area of San Francisco. These renovations were highly beneficial to anyone who owned land in the vicinity. One such individual was Paul Pelosi, owner of four commercial real-estate properties near the Embarcadero that generate a combined rental income exceeding $3 million per year.
Hypocrisy on Charter Schools
Pelosi is one of the National Education Association's favorite political figures because, like the NEA, she opposes charter schools and vouchers, preferring instead to maximize funding for public schools. But at one time, Pelosi and her husband owned some $100,000 worth of stock in Beacon Education Management, a contractor that managed 25 charter schools in five states as well as Washington, DC. In fact, a 2001 Securities and Exchange Commission filing listed Paul Pelosi as an officer of the company.
Evading Campaign Finance Laws
According to Rochelle Schweizer:
“Pelosi has attempted to sidestep federal laws enforced by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). For example, in 2002, she had two political action committees (PACs): the Team Majority and PAC to the Future. Federal law forbids PACs from contributing more than $5,000 per election to a single candidate or receiving more than $5,000 annually from a given donor. Federal law also stipulates that multiple PACs controlled by a single person are affiliated and need to abide by these restrictions as if they were one PAC; in other words, Pelosi’s two PACs could not collectively give more than $5,000 per election to a given candidate or collectively receive more than $5,000 a year from a given donor. One might think that Pelosi, as a leading proponent of campaign finance reform, would use her two PACs correctly in accordance with these rules. But instead, she gave more than two dozen candidates the $5,000 maximum contribution from both Team Majority and PAC to the Future, violating federal law. Team Majority returned more than $100,000 it had collected beyond federal limits, earning her fund-raising committee a $21,000 fine in 2004.”
PELOSI'S RECORD IN CONGRESS
Pelosi is a former member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, to whose executive committee she was named in 2002. For an overview of Pelosi’s policy positions and voting record on key pieces of legislation during her years in the House of Representatives, click here.
SOURCES CITED IN THE FOOTNOTES BELOW:
1) Do As I Say, Not As I Do, by Peter Schweizer (New York: Doubleday, 2005) (Acronym: DAIS)
2) She's The Boss: The Disturbing Truth About Nancy Pelosi, by Rochelle Schweizer (2010, Kindle Edition) (Acronym: STB)
 STB: Loc. 663-69
 DAIS: p. 137
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