Rep. Nancy Pelosi
First, it was the $101,000 that taxpayers spent for in-flight food and alcohol for then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s travels in 2008-2009.
Then, early last year, she requested that strawberries be provided for a special treat on her Air Force transport because it was her birthday. Not just any strawberries: chocolate-covered strawberries. “Dark chocolate preferred.”
Now there’s a follow-up report from Judicial Watch, the government watchdog group that hunts for and prosecutes government misconduct, that more taxpayer money – hundreds of thousands of dollars – were spent in the months before Pelosi handed the gavel over to Rep. John Boehner as Republicans took control of the House.
Among the receipts: $130 from a Detroit store for popcorn, cheese puffs, Hershey’s milk chocolate kisses, peanuts, Snickers minis, Nilla wafers, ginger snaps, mixed nuts, dry roasted peanuts, M&M peanuts, Kraft caramels and crackers.
That order apparently was connected to a congressional delegation trip to Detroit that cost some $24,000 in air travel expenses plus another $10,000 in miscellaneous expenses.
Judicial Watch said the records, which are linked on its website, include flight manifests, expense summaries, copies of receipts and congressional correspondence for Pelosi’s trips in 2010.
There’s not a grand total for the expenditures because of the nature of the reporting: Sometimes there were reimbursements listed for members of Pelosi’s family traveling with her, and it was unclear whether those reimbursements were paid.
The individual files of 50 to 100 pages of details are posted online in three parts:
The details include information on a May 6-10, 2010, trip 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.”
Tab for the military travel? $204,135.
And Pelosi “made a personal request that the ‘maximum per diem allowance be made available at the enhanced rate of an additional $50.’”
Also uncovered were “numerous” trips by Pelosi between San Francisco and Andrews Air Force Base.
Part of the tab for alcoholic drinks on a congressional trip arranged by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
“Several of these trips included members of Speaker Pelosi’s family, including her husband, daughter, granddaughters and son-in-law.”
That Detroit trip? Costs were $24,336 for commercial air travel and another $10,046 in “expenses.”
The Pentagon also paid for military escorts for the trip, the report noted.
“Overall, according to documents uncovered by Judicial Watch in January, Pelosi used the Air Force aircraft for a total of 43 trips, covering 90,155 miles, from Jan. 1 through Oct. 1, 2010. Judicial Watch, through the Freedom of Information Act, continues to pursue other records related to Pelosi’s use of Air Force aircraft.
Earlier reports on her travel whims documented that she spent $2.100,744.59 in military travel costs in a single two-year period. That included $101,429.14 taxpayers paid for “in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol.”
“For example, purchases for one Pelosi-led congressional delegation traveling from Washington, D.C., 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 reported.
Later, the organization suggested that federal officials were colluding on the “booze-gate” explanations because of a series of emails back and forth warning of coming document releases under the Freedom of Information Act.
The emails uncovered by Judicial Watch revealed the Pentagon was working hand-in-hand with congressional offices prior to releasing documents regarding congressional military travel under 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,” Judicial Watch said.
Incidentally, the new House Speaker, Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, promised 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 airlines.
Even so, Judicial Watch said it has been monitoring travel since Republicans took control of the House.
Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., took the earlier announcement about the expenses as an opportunity to suggest Pelosi 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 email at the time.
Another official sent an email 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 email 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.
“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,” he said.