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Nancy Pelosi's Big Fat Jet

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Email rumor claims Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi uses a gas-guzzling, 200-seat jet to commute nonstop between Washington, D.C. and California three days a week at an annual cost to taxpayers of $5,760,000.

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

Email contributed by Ben L., Dec. 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 in this story is that when Nancy Pelosi took office as Speaker of the House in 2007, a request was sent on her behalf to the Department of Defense 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, which was submitted by House sergeant-at-arms Bill Livingood, was security.

No one specifically asked for a larger plane, however, much less a "big, fat 200-seat jet." Nor, in 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 Republican critics that only an Air Force C-40 (equivalent to a Boeing 737 jetliner) could consistently make the coast-to-coast trip without refueling (it was generally agreed that the smaller C-20 aircraft provided by the military to her predecessor, Speaker Dennis Hastert, could not).

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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'
NBCBayArea.com, 13 March 2009

Last updated: 11/05/10

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