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PolitiFact: No, Nancy Pelosi Doesn't Demand to Fly On a 200-Seat Boeing 757 Jet With Taxpayer Money

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference in Washington on June 11, 2020. (AP)

*This story is reported by Patrick Orsagos for Politifact.

Claim: Nancy Pelosi ordered a 220-seat Boeing 757 to fly to her home state, costing taxpayers nearly $5.8 million annually.

 

If your time is short:

  • In 2008, the House sergeant-at-arms inquired about whether Pelosi could have access to a C-32, a military version of a Boeing 757, as her predecessor Dennis Hastert did following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
  • Pelosi did not request it or frequently use it.
  • Pelosi has flown commercial airlines since 2011.

 

A claim that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi uses an expensive Boeing 757 jet to shuttle her between California and Washington, D.C., each week has been circulating for more than a decade.

But it’s no more true today than it was in 2008, when FactCheck.org first vetted it.

A March 25 Facebook post shared thousands of times claims that Pelosi, D-Calif., insists on flying in a 220-seat Boeing 757 to her home state, costing taxpayers nearly $5.8 million annually. 

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The post states that Pelosi ordered the Boeing 757 jet because the smaller Air Force C-20B jet that’s normally made available to the House speaker could not make it across the country without stopping to refuel. 

Did the speaker order this? And are taxpayers really paying almost $5.8 million annually for her to travel to and from work? The answer is no.

A spokesperson for Pelosi told PolitiFact, "Speaker Pelosi travels by commercial air. This is false." 

Pelosi did fly on the larger plane during her first stint as speaker, spokesperson Drew Hammill said, from 2007 to 2011, due to security precautions set in place following the Sept. 11 terror attacks. After that, however, she began routinely flying commercial flights. She became speaker again in January 2019.

The speaker has been spotted flying on commercial airlines recently. In July 2019, CNN’s senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, tweeted a photo of Pelosi sitting in coach on a Delta plane in Detroit. 

CNN’s senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, tweeted a photo of Pelosi sitting in coach on a Delta plane in Detroit.

 

This isn’t the first time this particular rumor was spread about Pelosi’s flying habits. 

When FactCheck.org reported on this claim in 2008, it found that the rumor dates back to 2007, when Pelosi first became speaker. Bill Livingood, then the House sergeant-at-arms, asked the Air Force and the Defense Department for a plane that could transport Pelosi across the country without stopping to refuel. The House sergeant-at-arms is the chamber’s top law enforcement and security official.

Pelosi’s predecessor, Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., had access to an Air Force C-20B, a small 12-seater that he used to travel to his home district, as well as a larger plane — a C-32, a military version of a Boeing 757 — that was made available to him following 9/11. But FactCheck.org found that while Livingood inquired about the bigger plane, Pelosi herself didn’t request or often use this larger jet.

In 2010, FactCheck.org and PolitiFact also debunked claims of Pelosi raking up a $100,000 bar tab on her plane rides.

Our Ruling 

A viral post on Facebook claims that Nancy Pelosi ordered a 200-seat Boeing 757 jet to fly from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco, costing taxpayers $5.8 million annually. 

Pelosi did not request such a plane. And the post leaves out important context that would explain why the U.S. government provided a larger plane for the speaker of the House. It also ignores the fact that Pelosi flies on commercial airlines. 

We rate this statement False. 

Our Sources

Facebook, Steven Beardsley, March 25, 2020 

FactCheck.org, Nancy Pelosi’s Personal Jet, December 28, 2008

FactCheck.org, Pelosi’s Party Plane, March 4, 2010

PolitiFact, Michele Bachmann Accuses Pelosi of spending $100,000 on alcohol for flights, September 21, 2010

Email and phone interview with Drew Hammill, Nancy Pelosi spokesperson, May 26, 2020 and June 11, 2020

Jeff Zeleny, Tweet, July 22, 2019

Judicial Watch, Judicial Watch Uncovers New Documents Detailing Pelosi’s Use of Air Force Aircraft, January 28, 2010 

The Washington Post, The Trump-Pelosi State of the Union duel, annotated, January 23, 2019