Yes, the “new” Speaker of the House of Representatives for the upcoming Congress has yet to be chosen. But odds are that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will receive the gavel from current and outgoing Republican Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Even though Pelosi hails from the “old school” Democrats and a new breed of even more liberal Democrats are populating the majority party in Congress, Pelosi is the odds-on favorite to be Speaker. How so? She has amassed the reputation of being the best fundraiser by far for her party, has shown through her years in office her total commitment to the Democrat Party, and probably too because she knows where all the Democrat Party skeletons are hidden! (She probably hid a few herself)
As we prepare for the changing of the guard, I thought it beneficial for us to take a look forward to a Pelosi Congress by looking back to the way the House under her leadership — and specifically as House Speaker — operated in years past. Yes, “She’s Baaaack!”
Nancy: Who Is She?
Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi, born March 26, 1940, is an American politician serving as the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives since 2011, representing California’s 12th congressional district. She previously served as the 52nd Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011, the only woman to do so. Her ascent to House Speaker also made her the highest-ranking female politician in the history of the United States. She is the odds-on favorite to replace outgoing speaker Paul Ryan.
A member of the Democratic Party, Pelosi represents California’s 12th congressional district which consists of four-fifths of the city and county of San Francisco. She served as the House Minority Whip from 2002 to 2003, and was House Minority Leader from 2003 to 2007, holding the post during the 108th and 109th Congresses under George W. Bush. After the Democrats took control of the House in 2007 and increased their majority in 2009, Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House. After the Democrats lost House control in the 2010 elections, Pelosi was elected as the Democratic Leader by House Democrats and therefore the Minority Leader in the Republican-controlled House from.
During and after her tenure as Speaker, Pelosi was perceived as a contentious political figure, with Republican candidates frequently trying to tie their Democratic opponents to Pelosi and with moderate Democrats seeking to show their moderate bona fides by expressing opposition to Pelosi. Pelosi is expected to run for Speaker of the House of Representatives on the opening of the 116th U.S. Congress on January 3, 2019. If reelected Speaker, Pelosi would become the seventh individual to return to the Speakership on non-consecutive terms of office and the first since Sam Rayburn in 1955.
Speaker Pelosi was mired in a host of scandals during her years in the House. It is fair to say, however, that Pelosi and other Democrats are not on an island which contains ALL Congressional and other D.C. scandals. But Pelosi’s illustrate really well the apparent “in-your-face” attitude from many lawmakers on the left.
We detail just a segment of some of her scandals here. However, probably the most visible, obvious, and talked-about scandal involving Pelosi was a legislative one. Who can ever forget this:
While the Obamacare incident was really bad, it is just one of many under the watch of Pelosi.
Nancy Pelosi’s husband bought up to a quarter million dollars of stock in SunEdison (a now financially troubled green energy company that has just recently emerged from bankruptcy) just weeks before it announced a major 2014 acquisition that sent its stock price soaring. SunEd’s 2014 purchase of wind energy company First Wind “further bolstered the reputation of the company,” wrote one market-watcher at the time. “Perhaps unsurprisingly, SunEdison’s stock soared 29% on news of this acquisition alone.”
Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, had invested just in time. He bought between $100,000 and $250,000 in SunEdison stock on Oct. 24, 2014, according to congressional financial disclosures. The company announced its First Wind acquisition on Nov. 17, just 3 weeks after Paul Pelosi’s stock purchase. Coincidence?
Pelosi has previously been accused of trading stock based on information gleaned through her official duties. A law passed in the wake of the SunEd controversy prohibits members of Congress from using nonpublic information for personal gain. Language in that measure was informally dubbed the ‘Pelosi Provision.’
A report from the Washington Free Beacon revealed that Pelosi is alleged to have enriched herself and her husband, Paul, through her efforts to “steer taxpayer funds” to a San Francisco-area light rail project. Pelosi’s support for the project caused local real estate prices to escalate such that a large parcel of land owned by “high-dollar Democratic donor” Marc Benioff’s company received a huge profit upon selling it to the Golden State Warriors of the NBA. Pelosi’s husband is also a significant investor in the company.
Pelosi pushed for taxpayer subsidies for the rail project for over ten years, and that project did much to boost the real estate market in the area, according to commercial real estate experts. The report says that “liberal billionaire hedge fund manager” Tom Steyer — best-known for funding millions of dollars for national television ads promoting the impeachment of President Trump — may also have been further enriched through Pelosi’s efforts to provide federal subsidies to the project. Let’s see: Tom Steyer, who is a billionaire Democrat activist who hates Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, former House Speaker who wants her job back, and a financial windfall for both through the use of taxpayer subsidies. Sound familiar?
Overall, according to documents uncovered in January 2011, Pelosi used US Air Force corporate aircraft for a total of 43 private trips, covering 90,155 miles, from January 1 through October 1, 2010. Previous documents 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. 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.
Previously uncovered internal Department of Defense (DOD) documents email correspondence detailed 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.”
In investigations into Pelosi’s rampant use of military planes at taxpayer expense, documents further detail former Speaker Pelosi’s abuse of military aircraft when House Speaker. She provided sweetheart travel deals for her adult children. But it did not stop there. 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, exploded in number and cost under House Speaker Pelosi.
As a footnote here: 1) Pelosi complained to the Air Force that the jet first offered for her trips back-and-forth from D.C. to San Francisco was not sufficient for her needs. How so? It had to refuel during each trip. She demanded a replacement jet that could fly non-stop from Washington to the Bay Area. When her demands were made public, there was a huge outcry, especially in light of her abuse of taxpayer funds for her private jet flights.
So what have former and current House Speakers have and do about their air travel? Former Speaker John Boehner flew commercially. Current House Speaker Paul Ryan flies commercial between his home and D.C., skipping private jet usage. Incidentally, Air Force private jet flight for House Speakers IS allowed, but neither Boehner nor Ryan uses it.
There is nothing wrong with finding good investment opportunities or investing successfully in startup companies or even in real estate trading. That’s not what Pelosi and her husband did to get wealthy. The Pelosi family made most of their wealth through Insider trading. She is privy to information she wouldn’t otherwise have if not for her position in Congress, and she uses this so that her husband can create active trades which have made millions of dollars.
In the meantime, Pelosi leads the throng of Democrats who clamor for Trump to release his tax records. So, why doesn’t Pelosi give over her financial and tax records? Why doesn’t every Democrat who has a problem with Trump’s taxes bring out their own documents in a show of solidarity? After all, they’re more than content to spread Trump’s business every which way. People seem to forget that during the 2012 Presidential campaign, Pelosi and other members of Congress refused to release their tax returns and that was brought to light.
Facing questions about why she and other top Congressional officials won’t release their tax returns, Pelosi downplayed her previous demands for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to release his, calling the issue a distraction. Pelosi had strongly urged Romney to provide further disclosure of his tax returns. But while maintaining Romney should release more documents because of “custom” and “tradition,” Pelosi when facing media demands for HER tax returns said the issue “was trivial compared with economic issues.” She responded, “We spent too much time on that. We should be talking about middle-income tax cuts,” Pelosi said after answering two questions about the issue.
The Minority Leader faced questions about the issue after a McClatchy News report showed only 17 of 535 Members released their tax returns when asked.
Bringing back memories of these Pelosi scandals and the unethical if not illegal abuse of her position in Congress for personal enrichment for herself, her husband, and friends and campaign contributors simply leave a bad taste in the mouths of American citizens. Is it any wonder that the approval ratings for members of Congress hover close to single digits. And yet they still are re-elected again and again and go on taking advantage of political might and power at every opportunity. Why does its allowance continue?
It’s simple: Washington D.C. is so far removed from the sight and minds of most Americans, unless a scandal that negatively impacts Americans personally occurs, politicians are most often given a free pass. Shame on us! How can any of this be rectified if WE don’t do it? It is foolish to expect that someone who is allowed to cheat the system again and again with no accountability would stop cheating! Congressional actions by many that have been exposed prove that point. What is horrifying is to think that even with the multiple scandals we discover, how many remain unknown to us? Honestly, we’d probably all gasp if we knew.
We must stop burying our heads in the sand. Americans must begin to hold our elected officials accountable for all the improprieties they are guilty of and for all the financial waste of taxpayer dollars that are included. How?
- Term Limits. House members at the establishment of our government were elected from towns and villages for two-year terms. They would then return home to be replaced by local citizens for a two-year term in D.C. Without term limits, we watch daily as politicians become “career politicians” who make a lifetime of milking the system for every dime and bit of power they can get — AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE! We must stop the gravy train and get our officials back to just serving the people;
- Outlaw lobbying. Very few who serve in Congress leave Congress poor, or even in the same financial class as the day of taking their oath of office. Almost every member of Congress becomes a millionaire. How? In addition to personal enrichment when serving, most end their political careers as D.C. Lobbyists who open doors to the clients of D.C. firms who seek special access to lawmakers and those firm pay big bucks to receive that access. It is common for former members of Congress — who at most make $174,000 a year when in office — to make $1 million + per year as lobbyists;
- Tie the total compensation of every member of Congress to the total compensation for those in similar positions in the private sector. Base salaries in Congress may compare disproportionately to the advantage of those in the private sector. But when the expense accounts and health and retirement benefits are included, members of Congress have a much shorter path to financial security than their private sector counterparts — often guaranteed government income for life. Members of Congress should have NO different path to retirement and health security than Americans that are not in government;
- Members of Congress who violate any federal statutes or violate any tenets of their fiduciary responsibility to Americans in general, and their voting constituents in particular, should be publicly chastised, fined severely, and expelled from Congress for any multiple infractions. What specifically would comprise these infractions? The House and the Senate each have disciplinary and ethics committees already with written rules and written violation penalties defined. The details of any such infractions and any and all penalties assessed must be immediately made public while being investigated and after findings and whatever penalties are carried out. This process is critical. Without transparency to the public, the process would continue to be “prisoners guarding the prisoners.”
Will any of this happen? CAN any of this happen? The answer to both is “Probably Not.” Why? Congress has the power to write or not-write legislation, personally follow Congressional guidelines, and hold or refuse to hold themselves and fellow members accountable. It’s too easy for them to just push the ball down the road not making any waves. “Quid pro quo” is pretty much the everyday occurrence. Term Limits would stop that ball from rolling, but Congress would have to pass Term Limit laws. Do you think that will happen? It’s doubtful. After all: Congress gets to decide how much they make personally, how much they can each receive in personal benefits, and the budgets for their offices, including staff payroll. AND THEY JUST TELL US HOW MUCH WE NEED TO SEND TO THEM TO PAY FOR THESE!
Don’t forget: they’re not like you and me. When our checking accounts get emptied, we must wait until the next paycheck. If you’re a member of Congress and the “candy store” — the Treasury — gets empty, they just raise the debt limit and borrow some more money! You and I get to pay the bills AND PAY THE INTEREST ON THE MONEY THEY BORROW.
Sounds like a pretty good deal……for them!