Nancy Pelosi's "Big Fat Jet"

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Nancy Pelosi
Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Description: Email rumor
Circulating since: Nov. 2008
Status: False

Summary: Viral message claims Rep. Nancy Pelosi used a gas-guzzling, 200-seat jet to commute nonstop between Washington, D.C. and California three days a week when she was Speaker of the House at an annual cost to taxpayers of $5,760,000.

Text of forwarded email dated December 1, 2008:

Subject: Makes You Wonder

Pelosi's Footprint

Speaker of the House, Madame Pelosi, wasn't happy with the small private jet that comes with the Speaker's job. No, Madame Pelosi was aggravated that this little jet had to stop to refuel, so she ordered a Big Fat 200 seat jet that could get her back to California without stopping! Nancy's Big Fat Jet costs the American tax payers, thousands of gallons of fuel every week. She only works three days a week, but this gas-guzzling jet gets fueled every time she flies home to California...cost to the taxpayers about $60,000, one way!

Unfortunately we have to pay to bring her back on Monday night. Cost to us, another $60,000. Folks, that is $480,000 per month. That is an annual cost to the taxpayers of $5,760,000!

Madame Pelosi wants you and I to conserve our carbon footprint?! She wants us to buy smaller cars? And Obama wants us to get a bicycle pump and air up our tires!? What the %&$*% is going on here!?

Analysis: The nugget of truth buried in these allegations is that when Rep. Nancy Pelosi took office as Speaker of the House in 2007, House sergeant-at-arms Bill Livingood submitted a request to the Defense Dept. on her behalf for a military transport plane with the fuel capacity to fly nonstop from Washington, D.C. to Pelosi's home district in California under all weather conditions.

The reason cited for the request was security.

No one specifically asked for a larger plane, according to the available evidence, much less "ordered a big, fat 200-seat jet." Nor, in point of fact, did Pelosi use such a plane at an alleged annual cost to taxpayers of "$5,760,000." Documents obtained by the government watchdog group Judicial Watch reveal that between January 2007 and November 2008 Pelosi never used a military plane larger than a 12-passenger Air Force C-37 for any domestic flight.

The claim that she demanded a 200-seat aircraft apparently arose from the mistaken assumption on the part of Pelosi's political opponents that only an Air Force C-40 (equivalent to a Boeing 737 jetliner) could consistently make the coast-to-coast trip without refueling.

According to an Air Force spokesman, Pelosi only used a military jet larger than the one provided to her predecessor, Dennis Hastert, on one occasion — when no smaller aircraft was available. Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said she routinely used commercial airlines for travel when not on official business.

Sources and further reading:

Pelosi Seeks Upgrade for Government-Provided Plane
ABC News, 8 February 2007

House Sergeant-at-Arms Ordered Pelosi Plane
NBC News, 8 February 2007

Pelosi Travel Abuse? Case Not Proved
ABC News, 11 March 2009

Pelosi Aide Calls Diva Allegations 'Ridiculous', 13 March 2009

Last updated: 09/07/15