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Spin Control

More on forwarded e-mails with bad info

In response to Sunday’s column on e-mails that pass along stuff that just ain’t true, Reader Tina Wynecoop sent a copy of a missive she’s received several times about Nancy Pelosi’s luxury jet.

The e-mai carries a subject line of “FW: Queen Nancy’s 757” and includes a photo of what it calls a USAF Boeing 757. It talks about Pelosi demanding a luxury jet to fly across country instead of the “small private jet” a speaker normally gets, so she ordered a Big Fat 200 seat jet, which costs $60,000 for each trip to California and another $60,000 back, and she makes one every weekend, so that’s $480,000 a month and $5.7 million a year, all while demanding people use less fuel and raise taxes.

“YOU WILL NEVER SEE THIS IN ANY NEWSPAPER IN THE COUNTRY! THEY HAVE NO GUTS…” it says.

You won’t, in fact, see this in The Spokesman-Review, because so much of it isn’t true. But it was checked by several news agencies when it first surfaced last fall, and if you want to know what they found, go inside the blog….


OK, first, the obvious tip off that the e-mail writer doesn’t do much research is the label in the picture. The Air Force does own a few 757s from Boeing, but they don’t call them a 757. They call them a C-32.

Next, the speaker’s office has had access to a military plane for many years for trips tied to congressional business (reaching back to a speaker some local readers might remember, Tom Foley). But neither Pelosi nor her predecessors  have their own plane…they use what’s available from the Air Force pool. But they also fly commercial for some business.

After Sept. 11, the White House wanted the speaker to travel more on Air Force planes for security reasons because the speaker is second in line to the president. So the speaker at the time, Republican Dennis Hastert, generally used an Air Force C-20B jet, which is similar to a Gulfstream III. That plane could make it to Hastert’s home district in Illinois without refueling, but can’t always make it to Pelosi’s home district in San Francisco without stopping to refuel. (Depends on headwinds.) Stopping to refuel adds some element of risk to the security.

When the House Sergeant at Arms Bill Livingood asked in 2007 for a plane that could make the trip without refueling, the Air Force said one jet in its pool at Andrews Air Force Base that can do that is the C-32, often used by the vice president and the first lady, and she could use it when it was available. The White House agreed.

(Remember, since this was 2007, that was the Bush White House. Livingood was first appointed by Republicans.)

It is a pretty nice jet; it doesn’t have 200 seats, but it does have a pretty luxurious stateroom.

Pelosi has used the C-32 on occasion, but usually uses the C-20B or a slightly larger military version of a Gulfstream V.

As for the number of trips and the “cost” the e-mail writer computes, an ABC News report in March said that Pelosi made less than one trip per month back to San Francisco on a military jet. By comparison, her predecessor Hastert made weekly trips back to Illinois, mostly using an Air Force plane.

If this isn’t enough, and you’re dying to read more, check out:

The FactCheck.org dissection of a Judicial Watch report from March.

An ABC News report that says the claims don’t prove out.

A CNN report on Livingood’s request for a non-stop plane.

A FactCheck.org overview of the rumor, that has been kicking around for a while.




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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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