Judicial Watch hides facts in attack on Pelosi flights

Judicial Watch hides facts in attack on Pelosi flights

Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL

Judicial Watch has received much attention from the usual right-wing outlets for its recent mini-report claiming that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spent $2 million in taxpayer money on Air Force aircraft. The press release seems rather deliberately underwritten, suggesting that much, if not all, of that money was spent solely on Pelosi and her immediate family -- for example, their press release's headline states that Pelosi's "Military Travel Cost the United States Air Force $2,100,744.59 over a Two-Year Period." But the release later discloses that the data is actually for "103 Pelosi-led congressional delegations" -- i.e., the congressional delegations set up through the Speaker's office, many of which included other members of Congress as well -- not her personal travel. WorldNetDaily, for one, took that bait.

Judicial Watch is also completely silent about the passenger lists for these CODELs -- perhaps because some of them include Republican members of Congress and their spouses. For instance, Judicial Watch highlighted a May 2008 CODEL to Israel and Baghdad that "included members of Congress and their spouses and cost $17,931 per hour in aircraft alone," as well as a copious stash of alcoholic beverages. Unmentioned by Judicial Watch was that Republican Reps. David Dreier and Adam Putnam were also on that trip (Republican Leader John Boehner was originally scheduled to go as well but later withdrew). Republican members also brought their spouses on Pelosi-led delegations to Europe in 2007 and Europe and India in 2008.

In highlighting how some of these Pelosi-related trips "included members of the House Speaker's family," Judicial Watch curiously fails to mention that family members traveling on Air Force aircraft are generally required to reimburse the government for the cost of flights and food, paying the price of a coach ticket on a commercial airline. Indeed, the authorizations from Pelosi's office for members of her family to travel on CODELs make clear that the "[t]ravel is on a reimbursable basis."

Also glossed over: Pelosi's predecessor as House speaker, Republican Dennis Hastert, also authorized members to bring family members on CODELs. Indeed, the Freedom of Information Act documents Judicial Watch posted to support its attack on Pelosi bear this out -- for instance, a request by Hastert for a 2006 CODEL to Greece, India, and Vietnam shows that of the congressmen going on the trip, all but one were Republican, and all but one brought their wives, including Hastert himself.

Even though Republican Hastert arranged and went on junket-esque CODELs, and even though Republicans were on numerous CODELs arranged by Pelosi, Judicial Watch sees fit to bash only Pelosi.

This appears to be nothing more than the latest round of smearing Pelosi as a prolific abuser of the House speaker's travel privileges. That falsehood-laden accusation was debunked.

WorldNetDaily, Judicial Watch
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