Officials at Judicial Watch, the watchdog organization that hunts down and exposes government misbehavior, say they have uncovered more extravagances on the part of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose office apparently told the Air Force members wanted chocolate-covered strawberries for Pelosi’s birthday.
Not just any chocolate-covered strawberries, either.
“Dark chocolate preferred,” said the instructions to the Air Force, which provided Pelosi with commuting services to and from California while she was Speaker of the House.
WND reported earlier when Judicial Watch documented that taxpayers were billed some $101,000 for Pelosi’s in-flight services, including food and liquor, over a two-year period.
Later, the organization suggested that federal officials were colluding on the “booze-gate” explanations because of a series of e-mails back and forth warning of coming document releases under the Freedom of Information Act.
Incidentally, the new House Speaker, Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, confirmed when he took the gavel from Pelosi as the GOP took the majority of the House in the 2010 election that he would commute to his Ohio district on commercial aircraft.
In a report today, Judicial Watch confirmed that old habits must die hard for Pelosi.
“The most recent documents uncovered by Judicial Watch include a Passenger Mission Activity chart detailing all of former Speaker Pelosi’s flights January 1 to October 1, 2010, as well as detailed shopping lists for some flights…” the report said.
“Pelosi used the Air Force aircraft for a total of 43 trips, covering 90,155 miles, from January 1 through October 1, 2010. The Air Force documented in-flight expenses for 22 of these flights totaling $1,821.33. The Air Force did not provide expense information for the remaining 21 flights,” Judicial Watch reported.
“Former Speaker Pelosi received chocolate covered strawberries as a birthday surprise on a March 26, 2010, flight. According to one internal Air Force e-mail sent on March 25, 2010: ‘The speaker’s office is requesting egg salad sandwiches on wheat toast with fruit (watermelon, etc) for desert (sic). It’s the speaker’s B-Day tomorrow so we’re also asking for something like chocolate covered strawberries (dark chocolate preferred)…’ The immediate response to the e-mail from another member of the Air Force staff: ‘Copy all. We’ll plan something for the birthday and take care of the meal,'” Judicial Watch reported.
There also was a reference to a flight “Deadhead to home station,” which typically means that after delivering Pelosi to San Francisco, the jet would return empty, at taxpayer expense, to Andrews Air Force Base.
Another document revealed an order for six raspberry chocolate cups, costing almost $16.
“Despite the media firestorm over her military travel abuses, Nancy Pelosi continued to use the United States Air Force as her own personal travel agency right up until her final days as House Speaker,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Nancy Pelosi demonstrated an alarming disregard for the men and women in the U.S. Air Force during her tenure as House Speaker. We are pleased that Speaker Boehner will not follow Pelosi’s corrupt example and will instead fly commercial. But this scandal is not only about travel by the Speaker of the House. Through the Speaker’s office, other members of the House are able to obtain permission for the use of military luxury travel for congressional delegation trips abroad. These trips, known as CODELs, have exploded in number and cost. Speaker Boehner needs to reform this abuse of our military’s assets. This is the right thing to do for the U.S. Air Force and for the American taxpayer.”
According to previous documents uncovered by Judicial Watch, 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.
For example, one receipt for “in-flight services” for the House speaker included a list that looked like a dream order for a wild frat party: Maker’s Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Bailey’s Irish Crème, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewars scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniel’s whiskey and Corona beer.
Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., later applauding Pelosi’s House rules-change that banned all members of Congress from flying first-class on the taxpayer’s dime, suggested that Pelosi, too, fly coach-class.
Posey said the move would spare taxpayers the $28,000 it costs per flight for her personal military aircraft when she travels back and forth to her home in San Francisco.
Pelosi had been added to the Judicial Watch list of Top 10 corrupt politicians because of her “sense of entitlement,” the group said.
WND also reported a year earlier Pelosi was shown to have been erratically canceling and scheduling flights, as one would with an on-call taxi service.
“We have … folks prepping the jets and crews driving in (not a short drive for some), cooking meals and preflighting the jets, etc.,” said one Department of Defense e-mail at the time.
Another official sent an e-mail questioning a series of Pelosi’s requests for aircraft.
“Any chance of politely querying [Pelosi’s team] if they really intend to do all of these or are they just picking every weekend?” it stated. “[T]here’s no need to block every weekend ‘just in case’.”
The e-mail noted that the speaker’s office had “a history of canceling many of their past requests.”
Judicial Watch said it obtained 2,000 pages of documentation on Pelosi’s travel expenses.
Among the highlights revealed:
- Pelosi used Air Force aircraft to travel back to her district at an average cost of $28,210.51 per flight. Of 103 Pelosi-led congressional delegations, 31 trips included members of the House speaker’s family.
- One delegation traveling from Washington, D.C., through Tel Aviv, Israel, to Baghdad, Iraq, May 15-20, 2008, “to discuss matters of mutual concern with government leaders” included members of Congress and their spouses and cost $17,931 per hour in aircraft alone. This flight included the purchase of the long list of alcoholic drinks.
- According to a “Memo for Record” from a March 29–April 7, 2007, delegation that involved a stop in Israel, the delegation “could only bring kosher items into the hotel. Kosher alcohol for mixing beverages in the delegation room was purchased on the local economy, i.e., bourbon, whiskey, scotch, vodka, gin, triple sec, tequila, etc.”
Judicial Watch also reported when e-mails obtained from the government revealed the Pentagon was checking with and informing members of Congress on specific documents it was proposing to release under the federal law.
“Why is the Pentagon colluding with congressional offices on FOIA requests?” wondered Fitton at the time. “There is absolutely no reason why politicians should have the ability to preview FOIA documents before they are released to the American people. These insider notification e-mails to Congress are inappropriate and should be stopped immediately.”