Letter in Liberty, June 2007, pp. 5-6

Can It

The April Reflections include a couple of pieces of misinformation about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that should be corrected.

First, Tim Slagle states (p. 7) that Pelosi is a hypocrite because of "her request for a private 737 jet." As the House Sergeant at Arms Bill Livingood reported in a February 8 statement, it was he who requested a 757 (not a 737) for Pelosi. Pelosi did not request any particular kind of aircraft, nor demand one capable of non-stop flights. Livingood wrote: "In a post 9/11 threat environment, it is reasonable and prudent to provide military aircraft to the Speaker for official travel between Washington and her district. The practice began with Speaker Hastert and I have recommended that it continue with Speaker Pelosi. The fact that Speaker Pelosi lives in California compelled me to request an aircraft that is capable of making non-stop flights for security purposes, unless such an aircraft is unavailable. This will ensure communications capabilities and also enhance security. I made the recommendation to use military aircraft based upon the need to provide necessary levels of security for ranking national leaders, such as the Speaker. I regret that an issue that is exclusively considered and decided in a security context has evolved into a political issue."

Second, Gary Jason states (p. 15) that "Pelosi managed to tack on an exemption [to the minimum wage increase] for American Samoa, because the big tuna-canning companies StarKist and Del Monte (which pay Samoans $3.26 per hour) screamed that they would be hammered by the new wage standard" and "StarKist, by the way, happens to have its corporate headquarters in her home district." In fact, Pelosi didn't "add" this exemption--it has been present in every proposed minimum wage increase (as well as previous minimum wage law) for over a decade, long before Del Monte acquired StarKist, which is the largest employer in American Samoa. Del Monte, which is headquartered in San Francisco, has given contributions almost exclusively to Republicans, and nothing to Pelosi or the major Democratic committees. There was previously also an exemption for the Northern Marianas Islands (for which Jack Abramoff lobbied), which is phased out over two years in the new increase.

It would be appreciated if Liberty contributors and editors would make greater efforts to verify the accuracy of Republican talking points before repeating them in print. I can go watch Fox News if I want that kind of misinformation--I prefer not to see it in this magazine.

Jim Lippard
Phoenix, Ariz.