Documents from the United States Air Force (USAF) reveal that Nancy Pelosi abused her position to fly family members for free in government aircraft.
Public interest group Judicial Watch obtained the documents in July 2011, which details flight manifests, expense summaries, copies of receipts and Congressional correspondence, and reveal a number of trips made by Speaker Pelosi in 2010.
The documents include:
- A May 6-10, 2010, Congressional Delegation to Afghanistan and Germany “to discuss issues of mutual interest in Qatar and Afghanistan, as well as conduct oversight on women’s issues (troops) in Afghanistan and to visit with US troops and meet with government officials in Germany.” The total cost of military travel was $204,135.00. The records indicate then-Speaker Pelosi made a personal request that the “maximum per diem allowance be made available at the enhanced rate of an additional $50.”
- Numerous trips were made by Speaker Pelosi between San Francisco and Andrews Air Force Base. Several of these trips included members of Speaker Pelosi’s family, including her husband, daughter, granddaughters and son-in law. For example, one “Staff Summary Sheet” detailing a January 4, 2010, flight from San Francisco to Andrews Air Force Base notes that Pelosi’s daughter Christina “owes for $99.00 (flight) and $7.82 (meal).” The documents suggest that the Speaker’s office was billed for the fees but do not indicate whether the bills were paid.
- A January 7-11, 2010, Congressional Delegation to Detroit, Michigan, for the expressed purpose of reviewing “the impact of congressional appropriations and policy in promoting innovation, technological development and job creation in US auto industry.” The Detroit trip required $24,336.60 in commercial air travel and an additional $10,046.87 in expenses. The Pentagon also paid for military escorts for the trip.
- One document notes that the mode of transportation for the trip would be “Comair and Milair,” (commercial air travel and military air travel). However, the only cost related to the military portion of the transportation detailed in the records is a $15,000 advance secured for ground transportation, meals and lodging. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) drove himself to Detroit and sought $228 in mileage reimbursement. A total of 24 House Members (16 Democrats, 8 Republicans), led by then-Speaker Pelosi and then-Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), were on the list of trip participants.
Judicialwatch.org reports: Overall, according to documents uncovered by Judicial Watch in January 2011, Pelosi used the Air Force aircraft for a total of 43 trips, covering 90,155 miles, from January 1 through October 1, 2010.
Judicial Watch, through FOIA, continues to pursue other records related to Pelosi’s use of Air Force aircraft.Previous documents obtained by Judicial Watch show the former Speaker’s military travel cost the USAF $2,100,744.59 over one two-year period — $101,429.14 of which was for in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol.
For example, purchases for one Pelosi-led congressional delegation traveling from Washington, DC, through Tel Aviv, Israel to Baghdad, Iraq May 15-20, 2008 included: Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Bailey’s Irish Crème, Maker’s Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewars scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey, Corona beer and several bottles of wine.
Judicial Watch also previously uncovered internal Department of Defense (DOD) documents email correspondence detailing attempts by DOD staff to accommodate Pelosi’s numerous requests for military escorts and military aircraft as well as the speaker’s last minute cancellations and changes.
For example, in response to a series of requests for military aircraft, one DOD official wrote, “Any chance of politely querying [Pelosi’s team] if they really intend to do all of these or are they just picking every weekend?…[T]here’s no need to block every weekend ‘just in case’…”
The email also notes that Pelosi’s office had, “a history of canceling many of their past requests.”
Judicial Watch also uncovered emails from the DOD that show the Pentagon worked hand-in-hand with congressional offices prior to releasing documents regarding congressional military travel under the FOIA.
These “heads up” emails involved FOIA requests filed by Judicial Watch, The Wall Street Journal, Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call, among other organizations, related to the use of military aircraft by a number of congressional members, including Pelosi.
Following numerous press reports documenting Pelosi’s misuse of military air craft, current House Speaker John Boehner announced that he would fly commercial between his home district and Washington, DC.
Nevertheless, Judicial Watch has initiated a separate investigation into travel since Republicans took control of the House.
“These documents further detail former Speaker Pelosi’s shameless abuse of military air craft during her tenure as House Speaker. Providing sweetheart travel deals for her adult children are an abuse of her high public office,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
“But this scandal is much larger than Speaker Pelosi, as the massive Detroit Auto Show junket shows. Members of the House are able to obtain permission from the Office of the Speaker for the use of military luxury and military-supported travel for congressional delegation trips. These trips, known as CODELs, have exploded in number and cost. Speaker Boehner needs to reform this abuse of our military’s assets. For all the recent talk about corporate luxury jets here in Washington, the American people might be surprised to learn the Air Force has an entire wing of luxury jets (in addition to President Obama’s Air Force One planes) for the use of congressmen and top administration officials.”
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