Nancy Pelosi’s fight to not fund a border wall that eventually led to President Trump banning her from using military aircraft has inadvertently brought unwanted attention to just how much taxpayer money she has been spending on lavish trips. The Speaker certainly likes her dark chocolate and booze.
Pelosi’s trip to Italy and Ukraine from July 30 to Aug. 6, 2015, cost the Air Force $184,587.81, according to documents released Saturday under a 2015 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Judicial Watch. Her delegation was made up of other Democratic members of Congress, including California Rep. Anna Eshoo, after “token” Republican Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner pulled out last minute, reported The Washington Post in 2015.
Four family members, including Pelosi’s husband Paul Pelosi, were slated to go on the trip. The delegation was scheduled to dine at restaurants including James Beard American Restaurant in Milan, where a five-course meal cost up to $190, according to Fine Dining Lovers. The lawmakers also toured the Vatican and met up with Italian dignitaries, including President Sergio Mattarella and then-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, according to their itinerary.
Pelosi’s team apparently had some pretty specific requests for the Air Force officials working with them to coordinate the trip.
“You’re going lo love this …. CODEL Pelosi is requesting the crew they had on this earlier attached trip. Apparently they were very pleased with their service. I already told the escort chances were slim,” an unidentified Air Force official wrote in an email July 9, 2015.
Overall, Pelosi’s European excursion cost the Air Force about the same amount of money it would take to send a student to Harvard University for four years. Judicial Watch compared the trip to Republican Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s CODEL trip with multiple stops in east Asia in August 2015. The trip led by Gardner, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, cost at least $26,009.03 for commercial flights and per diems, according to records cited by Judicial Watch.
Judicial Watch has been uncovering Pelosi’s abuse of travel perks for some time.
Beginning in 2009, after the media failed to follow up on concerns raised about Nancy Pelosi’s use of luxury Air Force jets to travel between her congressional district and DC, Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information act requests exposed her abuse of this travel perk. Judicial Watch uncovered that Pelosi’s military travel cost the United States Air Force $2,100,744.59 over one two-year period — $101,429.14 of which was for in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol.
Judicial Watch also uncovered internal Defense emails detailing attempts by Defense Department staff to accommodate Pelosi’s numerous requests for military escorts and military aircraft, as well as Pelosi’s last minute cancellations and changes.
Other documents show the Pentagon sent “heads up” emails to members of Congress providing them with planned responses to FOIA requests about their travel filed by Judicial Watch, The Wall Street Journal, Congressional Quarterly, and Roll Call, among other organizations.
Judicial Watch’s work exposing Pelosi’s travel abuses resulted in her successor John Boehner declining to use Air Force luxury jets to travel to his Ohio congressional district. Last week, a spokesperson for new House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) confirmed with Judicial Watch that he has also declined to use Air Force jets to travel between his congressional district and Washington, DC.
In March 2010, Judicial Watch also pressured the House and the Senate Ethics Committees after the Wall Street Journal reported that members did not account for and improperly pocketed cash travel “per diem” advances. In December 2010, the House Ethics Committee refused to take action despite admitted violations of the rules regarding the use of taxpayer funds by members. And in June 2011, over a year after Judicial Watch’s complaint, the Senate Ethics Committee responded by merely reminding all members and staff to follow all of the rules regarding travel “per diems,” especially the rule requiring that unused cash be returned to taxpayers.
Purchases for one Pelosi-led CODEL on 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, Dewar’s scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin…
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) January 18, 2019
.@SpeakerPelosi used the Air Force aircraft for a total of 85 trips, covering 206,264 miles, from March 2, 2009 through June 7, 2010. Pelosi, her guests and Air Force personnel logged a total of 428.6 hours on these flights.
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) January 18, 2019
Image: The Conservative Brief