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.”
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.
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.
Pelosi has long professed her deep commitment to fair labor practices for workers vulnerable 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.
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 promises 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.
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.
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.
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.”
On December 22, 2020, Pelosi and/or her husband Paul, the head of a venture capital firm, paid between $500,000 and $1,000,000 to purchase 25 call options of Tesla Inc., an electric vehicle and clean-energy company. Over the course of the next five weeks, the value of Tesla shares rose from $640.34 to more than $890 apiece. Pelosi’s purchase raised ethical questions, in light of President Joe Biden’s “Buy American” executive order of January 25 which included a plan to replace the U.S. government’s fleet of cars and trucks with American-made electric vehicles — a measure that would be of great benefit to Tesla. By purchasing her Tesla call options when she did, Pelosi may have violated the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012,which forbade members of Congress and all government employees from using non-public information in order to gain private profit.
a) Acronym “DAIS”: Do As I Say, Not As I Do, by Peter Schweizer (New York: Doubleday, 2005)
b) Acronym “STB”: She’s The Boss: The Disturbing Truth About Nancy Pelosi, by Rochelle Schweizer (2010, Kindle Edition)