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Demo Multi-Millionaire Pelosi Attacked For Pushing Pay Freeze For Federal Workers
SF Congress woman Nancy Pelosi was attacked in Congress for supporting a pay freeze for Federal workers. She and her billionaire friends are profiting off their control of the government while they attack public workers.
Demo Multi-Millionaire Pelosi Attacked For Pushing Pay Freeze For Federal Workers "Ms. Richardson angrily told Ms. Pelosi that, unlike her, some members needed the raise."
December 26, 2011
Economic Downturn Took a Detour at Capitol Hill
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON — When Representative Ed Pastor was first elected to Congress two decades ago, he was comfortably ensconced in the middle class. Mr. Pastor, a Democrat from Arizona, held $100,000 or so in savings accounts in the mid-1990s and had a retirement pension, but like many Americans, he also owed the banks nearly as much in loans.
Today, Mr. Pastor, a miner’s son and a former high school teacher, is a member of a not-so-exclusive club: Capitol Hill millionaires. That group has grown in recent years to include nearly half of all members of Congress — 250 in all — and the wealth gap between lawmakers and their constituents appears to be growing quickly, even as Congress debates unemployment benefits, possible cuts in food stamps and a “millionaire’s tax.”
Mr. Pastor buys a Powerball lottery ticket every weekend and says he does not consider himself rich. Indeed, within the halls of Congress, where the median net worth is $913,000 and climbing, he is not. He is a rank-and-file millionaire. But compared with the country at large, where the median net worth is $100,000 and has dropped significantly since 2004, he and most of his fellow lawmakers are true aristocrats.
Largely insulated from the country’s economic downturn since 2008, members of Congress — many of them among the “1 percenters” denounced by Occupy Wall Street protesters — have gotten much richer even as most of the country has become much poorer in the last six years, according to an analysis by The New York Times based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group.
Congress has never been a place for paupers. From plantation owners in the pre-Civil War era to industrialists in the early 1900s to ex-Wall Street financiers and Internet executives today, it has long been populated with the rich, including scions of families like the Guggenheims, Hearsts, Kennedys and Rockefellers.
But rarely has the divide appeared so wide, or the public contrast so stark, between lawmakers and those they represent.
The wealth gap may go largely unnoticed in good times. “But with the American public feeling all this economic pain, people just resent it more,” said Alan J. Ziobrowski, a professor at Georgia State who studied lawmakers’ stock investments.
There is broad debate about just why the wealth gap appears to be growing. For starters, the prohibitive costs of political campaigning may discourage the less affluent from even considering a candidacy. Beyond that, loose ethics controls, shrewd stock picks, profitable land deals, favorable tax laws, inheritances and even marriages to wealthy spouses are all cited as possible explanations for the rising fortunes on Capitol Hill.
What is clear is that members of Congress are getting richer compared not only with the average American worker, but also with other very rich Americans.
While the median net worth of members of Congress jumped 15 percent from 2004 to 2010, the net worth of the richest 10 percent of Americans remained essentially flat. For all Americans, median net worth dropped 8 percent, based on inflation-adjusted data from Moody’s Analytics.
Going back further, the median wealth of House members grew some two and a half times between 1984 and 2009 in inflation-adjusted dollars, while the wealth of the average American family has actually declined slightly in that same time period, according to data cited by The Washington Post in an article published Monday on its Web site.
With millionaire status now the norm, the rarefied air in the Capitol these days is $100 million. That lofty level appears to have been surpassed by at least 10 members, led by Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and former auto alarm magnate who is worth somewhere between $195 million and $700 million. (Because federal law requires lawmakers to disclose their assets only in broad dollar ranges, more precise estimates are impossible.)
Their wealth has created occasional political problems for Congress’s richest.
Mr. Issa, for instance, has faced outside scrutiny because of the overlap of his Congressional work and outside interests, including extensive investments with Wall Street firms like Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, as well as land holdings in his San Diego district. In one case, he obtained some $800,000 in federal earmarks for a road-widening project running along his commercial property.
Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat who is married to Teresa Heinz Kerry, set off an uproar last year when it was disclosed that he had docked his $7 million, 76-foot yacht not in his home state but in neighboring Rhode Island, which has no sales or use tax on pleasure boats. (Mr. Kerry, worth at least $181 million, voluntarily paid $400,000 in Massachusetts taxes after criticism.)
Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, was challenged about her wealth, as much as $196 million, by a member of her own party a few weeks ago. Representative Laura Richardson, a California Democrat who is among the poorest members of Congress with as much as $464,000 in debt, attacked Ms. Pelosi at a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting for endorsing a Congressional pay freeze, according to a report in Politico that was confirmed by other members.
Ms. Richardson angrily told Ms. Pelosi that, unlike her, some members needed the raise. Members now make a base pay of $174,000 and would automatically get a cost-of-living adjustment unless they were to decide, for a third straight year, to pass it up. Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said the rising Congressional wealth fuels public doubts about whether members are more focused on their constituents’ interests or their own investment portfolios.
“There’s always a concern that they can’t truly understand or relate to the hardships that their constituents feel — that rich people just don’t get it,” she said.
In an effort to gauge how directly the country’s economic problems affected lawmakers, The New York Times contacted the offices of the 534 current members (one seat is vacant) for an informal survey. It asked if they had close friends or family members who had lost jobs or homes since the 2008 downturn.
Only 18 members responded.
Half the respondents said they had close friends or relatives who lost homes, while the other half said their personal contact was limited to constituents who came for help.
Two-thirds said they had close friends or relatives who had been laid off or had shut down a business during the downturn. The rest knew no one in that category personally.
Representative Anna G. Eshoo, a California Democrat who took part in the survey, said several cousins in their 40s and 50s whom she considers brothers and sisters lost their jobs recently. Without college degrees, none have found work, and they have emphasized to her the importance of unemployment benefits.
“Personal stories are very powerful because it’s not a theory,” Ms. Eshoo said. “It’s not talking points of a party. These are people experiencing the harshness of what is an economic depression for them.”
Multimillionaires in Congress “view life through a different lens,” she said.
Ms. Eshoo herself has escaped the worries weighing on her cousins. While she reported being in debt in 2004, she is now worth an estimated $1.8 million, her financial reports show. She said the rise came mostly from the sale of a family home where she lived for 40 years.
“I was fortunate,” she said. “I’ve lived from paycheck to paycheck most of my life, and I’m a single mother.”
One likely cause of the rising wealth, political analysts say, is the growing cost of a political campaign. A successful Senate run cost on average nearly $10 million last year, and a successful House race was $1.4 million, significantly above past elections.
The prohibitive cost has inevitably drawn richer candidates who can help bankroll their own campaigns and attract donations from rich friends — while deterring less well-off candidates, political analysts say.
The data analyzed by The Times corroborated the idea that incoming members are in fact richer than those in the past. The freshman class of 106 members elected last year, including many Tea Party-backed Republicans, had a median net worth of $864,000 — an inflation-adjusted increase of 26 percent from the 2004 freshmen.
Once in Congress, members benefit from many financial perks unavailable to most Americans. Beyond a base salary of $174,000 — an increase of about 10 percent since 2004, somewhat less than inflation — members get extra pay for senior posts and generous medical and pension benefits, as well as accouterments of power often financed by taxpayers or their campaigns.
While the housing collapse nationwide has hurt many Americans, lawmakers still find the real estate sector the most popular place to park their money, statistics from the Center of Responsive Politics show, and members of Congress continue to profit from their investments there. Perhaps the most tantalizing but hotly debated factor in the rising wealth of Congress is lawmakers’ performance in the stock markets — and the question of whether they are using their access to confidential information to enrich themselves.
In a study completed this year, Mr. Ziobrowski at Georgia State and his colleagues found that House members saw the stocks they owned outperform the market by 6 percent a year. Their research from several years ago found that senators did even better, at 12 percent above average. The researchers attributed the performance to a “significant information advantage” that lawmakers hold by virtue of their positions and the fact they are not bound by insider-trading law.
However, a separate study last year by researchers at Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that the portfolios of lawmakers actually performed somewhat worse than average investors. It found that members did do better when investing in companies in their home districts or associated with campaign donors — suggesting that they benefited from their political connections — but still not as well as the average investor.
While concerns go back decades about lawmakers trading on confidential information, the issue drew renewed attention with a new book on the topic, “Throw Them All Out” by Peter Schweizer, and a “60 Minutes” report in November. Both linked high-level briefings that Congressional leaders received on the 2008 financial crisis and on health care to their purchase and sale of certain stocks.
Members insisted that they never traded on information that was not public, and some Congressional leaders pointed out that their investments were in blind trusts managed by professional advisers. Nonetheless, the publicity led some 90 members of Congress to call anew for a ban on insider trading.
Mr. Pastor, the Arizona congressman, said he never relied on fancy stock investments to make money. He said the key to his good fortune was watching what he spends, paying off debts and, at age 68, collecting Social Security and a pension from his days as a county supervisor.
“I don’t see myself as a man of great wealth,” he said. “To say that I’m enjoying a millionaire’s lifestyle — well, I can tell you, I guess a millionaire’s income doesn’t go very far these days.”
Emmarie Huetteman and Derek Willis contributed reporting.
Corrupt Pelosi Got IPO Stock Options From Visa While Voting On Credit Card Legislation
Congress: Trading stock on inside information?
November 13, 2011 4:02 PM
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7388130n&tag=re1.galleriesteve Kroft reports that members of Congress can legally trade stock based on non-public information from Capitol Hill
Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7388130n&tag=re1.galleries#ixzz1dfsSknOL
Of course, good old politics gets its share, too. And then some.
There was another gathering across town Friday night - a much more exclusive one - at the Pacific Heights home of Gordon and Ann Getty. The $30,000-a-couple soiree for the national Democratic Party was hosted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The take: $1 million-plus, according to a partygoer.
How's that for economic stimulus?
Pelosi's PAC pays thousands to husband's firm
Erica Werner, Associated Press
Friday, October 3, 2008
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(10-03) 04:00 PDT Washington - --
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that it's "just foolish" to suggest that her husband is benefiting from tens of thousands of dollars one of her political committees is paying a firm he owns.
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The San Francisco Democrat also disputed the notion that the arrangement contradicts her support last year for legislation that would have banned spouses from benefiting, directly or indirectly, from political committees controlled by their husbands or wives.
Paul Pelosi has been treasurer of the speaker's PAC to the Future political action committee since last year, after the death of the previous treasurer. The PAC has paid his investment and consulting firm, Financial Leasing Services Inc., more than $50,000 since last year for accounting services and rent, plus at least $20,000 more in prior years.
Pelosi contended Thursday that she was merely complying with the law by reimbursing her husband's firm for what would otherwise amount to improper "in-kind" donations of services to her committee.
"My husband's not a political consultant or anything like that. It is just honoring the law to say if you use the facility, you have to pay for it. And everybody has to do that, and that's again in compliance with the law," Pelosi said.
"He would be happy not to have this on his turf I'm sure," she said. "No, it doesn't benefit my husband. That is foolish to say."
Pelosi's aides said they would review the arrangement after the election.
Many lawmakers pay spouses and other family members for fundraising and other campaign-related services, and it's perfectly legal. But the practice has become controversial in recent years after it arose as a factor in some congressional corruption investigations.
Last year Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Glendale (Los Angeles County), introduced legislation that would have banned the practice, and it passed the House by voice vote, with Pelosi's support, but never advanced in the Senate.
"Democrats are committed to reforming the way Washington does business. Congressman Schiff's bill will help us accomplish that goal by increasing transparency in election campaigns and preventing the misuse of funds," Pelosi said in a statement at the time.
Ethics watchdogs said that even if she was complying with the law, Pelosi had an obligation to hold herself to a higher standard.
"Having supported this bill and said that she agreed that immediate families shouldn't be on campaign payrolls, there shouldn't be payments to Paul Pelosi," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "I'm looking for leadership from Pelosi on this issue, not just for her to follow the technicalities."
In 2003, a different political action committee Pelosi ran was fined $21,000 for improperly accepting donations over federal limits.
The arrangement with Paul Pelosi's company was first reported Wednesday in the Washington Times.
"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will spend the early days of the August legislative recess wining and dining powerful corporate and political figures."
"Nancy Pelosi’s summer vacation" By Tom Eley
which quotes extensively from
James Brenahan at Politico at:
"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will spend the early days of the August legislative recess wining and dining powerful corporate and political figures."
"Pelosi will host a two-day “issues conference” for 170 elite guests, starting Friday at her multi-million dollar mansion in San Francisco’s exclusive Pacific Heights neighborhood, Politico's John Bresnahan reports. “The following day, Pelosi will shepherd her guests to a Napa Valley winery with buildings designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry; the speaker and her husband, investor Paul Pelosi, own a nearby vineyard worth between $5 million and $25 million, according to her annual financial disclosure report,” he writes."
"Bresnahan notes that the event is not a fundraiser, but a “donor maintenance” event, in which top contributors to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) will be given the chance to rub elbows with leading Democratic Party insiders. These include top Obama adviser David Axelrod; Obama economic adviser Mark Zandi (who served as economic adviser to John McCain in the 2008 elections); media pundit and former Clinton adviser James Carville; Rep. George Miller of California, who chairs the Education and Labor Committee; Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey, of the Energy and Commerce Committee; and Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus."
"To receive an invitation to the event, it is enough to have donated $30,400 to the DCCC during the last election cycle, a figure that also happens to be the maximum allowable contribution to a national party committee."
"“A donation to the DCCC of that size qualifies a donor to be part of the ‘Speaker’s Cabinet,’ a fundraising program that gives supporters expanded access to Pelosi,” Bresnahan says."
"Among those with such access are “Ann Getty Earhart, an heiress to the Getty oil fortune; Elizabeth Fisher, whose in-laws founded The Gap, the retail clothing giant; and Eugene Eidenberg, a former Carter White House staffer who is now a San Francisco venture capitalist,” according to Bresnahan. Paul Pelosi, the speaker’s husband, has as much as $50,000 in stock invested in one of Eidenberg’s firms, Granite Ventures."
"Nancy Pelosi, who belongs to the “liberal” wing of the Democratic Party, recently launched a bit of moralistic criticism in the direction of the health insurance industry in relationship to President Obama’s stalled health care “overhaul.”"
"“It's almost immoral what (insurance companies) are doing,” Pelosi said. “Of course they've been immoral all along in how they have treated the people they insure. They are the villains. They have been part of the problem in a major way.”"
"This serves as nothing more than a rhetorical smokescreen for the Obama health care counterrevolution, which seeks to ration coverage and gut Medicare assistance for the elderly. Every component of the plan championed by Obama and Pelosi aims to buffet the profit margins of the major players in the health care industry: the HMOs, the pharmaceuticals, and, of course, the insurers. (See: “The drug lobby demands, and gets, Obama pledge to protect health care profits”)."
"Pelosi’s professed outrage at the insurance industry does not hold up to even cursory examination. In the current election cycle, the insurance industry has been Pelosi’s third-largest donor, giving her $31,000. HMOs and pharmaceuticals contributed generously as well, handing over $17,500 and $15,000 respectively. The finance/insurance/real estate sector has been by far the largest donor to Pelosi’s DCCC, giving it so far $3.4 million in the current cycle."
For more, see
You cannot keep voting for these evil people and expect anything good to happen. You will have a good alternative to Pelosi, namely Cindy Sheehan, in 2010, who is for single payer healthcare, is not bought and paid for by big business, always opposes war and bailouts for big business and much more.
Nancy Pelosi, Right Wingers and a Bad Understanding of Napa
With the prospect prior to the last election and confirmation afterward that Representative Nancy Pelosi would be come Speaker of the House of Representatives, lots of attention is now being paid to the congresswoman from San Francisco. It turns out that much of that attention has been turned to the fact that Speaker Pelosi and her husband Paul own a vineyard in Napa.
But not just that she owns a vineyard. The folks writing on Right Wing blogs, for Right Wing Internet publications and those who comment on Right Wing blogs are fascinated by the report that Pelosi's small vineyard holdings apparently employ non-union labor. The Speaker's long defense of labor has spawned many to call her out on charges of "Hypocrisy". These charges can be found Here,Here, Here and Here.
I'm not so concerned about this. If you can find a politician anywhere who can't be charged in some small way with hypocrisy then you've probably found a dead politician.
What interests me about these writings is the way the writers and commentors tackle the wine industry in general. Specifically, I find THIS story that delves in deep to the finances of vineyards to come up with the conclusions that, among other things, Napa Grapegrower Andy Beckstoffer wants his Napa grapes to go into $10 and under wines, that Pelosi treats workers so bad they all quit and that it's possible Pelosi is laundering money through her vineyard.
Interestingly, the writer's source for this and other nonsense is identified only as "Our knowledgeable Napa Valley source."
I have to quote from this story...just because it's so damn funny:
" The congresswoman’s total planted grape acreage equals 9 acres x $13,500 income per acre of highest quality grapes = $121,500 total gross grape income for the two properties.
"More curiously however, our California wine country source revealed that “the AVERAGE cabernet price, however, is only $1,850 per ton x 4.5 acres x 9 acres = $75,000 total gross income for the Pelosi grapes from average quality fruit. So as you can see, the congresswoman may have some explaining to do about who buys their grapes and why they may be getting such an extraordinary price for them.”
"We were also told that “her vineyards are ’postage stamp’ sized and basically ‘irrelevant’ to the industry -- small, nuisance-sized parcels that at best are difficult to contract with any winery, and are in areas not known to produce quality fruit within the Oakville district. It is marginal land, which is why it was not planted historically.”
"The Napa source told us that “the biggest grape grower on Skellenger Lane [where one of the Pelosi vineyards is located] is Andy Beckstoffer -- and he likes to price his grapes to sell in a $10 per bottle of wine, for goodness sake. This is hardly an indication of extraordinary grape quality!” [suggesting that Pelosi’s Skellenger fruit is average at best.]
"Pelosi’s actual approximate “wine-grape income” is between $75,000 for average fruit and $121,500 for top-line fruit, given their reported planted acreage, and provided their fruit is of average quality -- if less than average quality, then income is even lower, suggesting that there is need of an explanation unless they show significant rental income from the vineyard properties. If Pelosi's tax return shows more that $200,002 income for the two vineyards, then there may be a significant problem.]"
You've got someone speculating on why in the world Pelosi could sell her grapes, farmed in the MIDDLE OF NAPA VALLEY, for more than $1,850 per ton, then concluding that there "may be a significant problem" with what Pelosi has reported as income. Anyone want to offer me some Oakville appellation Cabernet for $1,850 per ton? PLEASE!!!
Pelosi and her husband Paul recently sold their acreage on Skellenger Lane in Napa, but still own property on Zinfandel Lane in the middle of Napa. The property is described has having vineyards and residences. In reading the conspiracy theorists who tend to comment on the Right Wing writers' stories there is some speculation on where the vineyard is actually located, who buys the grapes and even what the name of the winery is. Though the Pelosis have apparently gotten a permit to build a 5000 gallon winery the property on Zinfnadel Lane, it do not believe it is completed, up and running or even under construction.
There is no specific information on th Internet as to which piece of property on Zinfandel Lane is actually owned by the Pelosi's. However, I think I determined which it was by using the handy dandy Google search tool, Google satellite imagery and little common sense. I suppose I could have done the research down at the planning department in Napa, but that's not nearly as fun.
First, it appears that Liparita Winery in Napa has purchase the fruit from Pelosi's vineyard. Also, it appears that Jack Neal and Sons does the farming. The vineyard, if I am correct about its location, is in close proximity to vineyards owned by Heitz, Frogs Leap and Quintessa. This is hardly bad grape ground.
I suspect that over the next two years we will continue to hear a great deal about the "vineyard baroness" slash Speaker of the House. I suspect the issue of union labor will continue to arise. That's fine. That's politics. However, it would be nice if those doing their best to do some smearing of Pelosi would get their facts straight about the wine industry and grape growing.
Pelosi's Napa Business Scrutinized
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
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By Mark Matthews
Nov. 28 - KGO (KGO) -- Is it a blatant case of liberal hypocrisy or a hatchet job by conservative commentators? There is a story knocking around the darker forests of the Internet concerning a Napa Valley vineyard owned by soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who also happens to be one of the wealthiest members of Congress.
Nancy Pelosi has received awards from the United Farm Workers Union. She has accepted considerable campaign financing from unions. And yet the vineyard that she and her husband own in Napa is non-union. That's the gist of the allegation of hypocrisy, but it's far from the whole story.
The Pelosis' vineyard is about seven acres on the south side of St. Helena. On her financial disclosure statements Pelosi lists the vineyard at between $5 million and $25 million dollars. As Peter Schweizer of the Hoover Institution pointed out in his book, the Pelosis hire non-union labor.
Peter Schweizer, Hoover Research Fellow: "She has won the Cesar Chavez award from the United Farm Workers Union and yet they don't use members of the United Farm Workers Union to actually pick the grapes on their winery."
Schweizer calls it liberal hypocrisy. And with Pelosi set to become the next speaker of the House, his charges are getting a lot of attention.
Peter Schweizer: "Investors Business Daily has run a column on it. There's been a lot of people on talk radio that have talked about it."
But in Napa we found the facts don't fit Schweizer's claim. For starters, the Pelosis pay more than union workers are paid in the same valley -- that from the pastor at St. Helena's Catholic Church, a well known advocate for farm workers who's involved in labor negotiations with the same labor manager the Pelosis use.
Monsignor John Brenkle, St. Helena Catholic Church: "So I know exactly what his pay scale is."
And Monsignor Brenkle says the Pelosis pay a $1.25 an hour more than workers at Napa's biggest union winery.
Monsignor John Brenkle: "I don't think she has the possibility of finding other union workers here in the valley."
Of the more than 300 vineyards, fewer than four are union, and most of the farm workers in the Napa Valley get paid better. St. Helena is a town rich with wine and the money that it has generated.
We heard the same from workers who say they're making between nine and 10 dollars an hour. Angel Calderon, the manager of a farm workers camp, says migrant workers in Napa get much more than union workers in the Salinas Valley or the Central Valley.
Angel Calderon, farm worker camp manager: "It's the truth, it's the truth. They pay better wages right here in Napa Valley."
Calderon manages one of three camps subsidized by Napa growers. For $11 dollars a day, workers get a clean place to live and three meals a day, access to doctors and dental care. But all of that aside, if Nancy Pelosi wanted to have union workers she could not ask the union for a contract. It's illegal and has been since 1975.
A spokesman for the United Farm Workers Union explains.
Marc Grossman, United Farm Workers Union: "It is patently illegal for any grower to even discuss a union contract, which is the only way you can supply union workers, without the workers first having voted in a state conducted secret ballot election."
I asked Peter Schweizer, the Hoover Research fellow, if he had researched those facts before he called Pelosi a hypocrite.
Peter Schweizer: "It's really for her to explain why there is this inconsistency. It's not my responsibility to go and find out how every single particular circumstance is handled on the Pelosi vineyard."
The 1975 Agricultural Labor Relations Act is pretty clear, what Peter Schweizer suggests would be illegal. Growers like Pelosi can't just hire workers from a union, but workers can unionize on their own and then negotiate with growers after they have organized. Schweizer told me this morning he would call me back and clear this all up -- he hasn't. We've left several messages.
Today, Nancy Pelosi's press secretary said this account is riddled with errors and clearly wasn't fact-checked. Well, it's been fact-checked now.
Aug. 6, 2009
Pelosi to Wine and Dine Big Party Donors
Politico: House Speaker Hosts "Issues Conference," Seeks to Raise $25M for Democrats During Congressional Recess
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(The Politico) This story was written by John Bresnahan.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moves in a rarefied world of high society and high-level politics - and nothing underscores that fact quite like her plans for the August recess.
Pelosi will spend next weekend quietly tending to top party donors and political allies at a series of private events in Northern California.
The two-day "issues conference" starts next Friday night with a dinner for roughly 170 guests on the back lawn of Pelosi's multimillion-dollar home in the fashionable Pacific Heights neighborhood in San Francisco.
The following day, Pelosi will shepherd her guests to a Napa Valley winery with buildings designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry; the speaker and her husband, investor Paul Pelosi, own a nearby vineyard worth between $5 million and $25 million, according to her annual financial disclosure report.
There's nothing unusual about leaders using recess to fund- and friend-raise. Before leaving town last week, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor raked in $1.1 million for fellow Republicans at a lobbyist-heavy fundraiser on Capitol Hill.
And Pelosi's staff notes that her California session will involve more than just schmoozing with the wealthy and well-connected. The speaker will lead policy discussions on health care, energy reform and the economy, among other topics. Scheduled to speak are Obama adviser David Axelrod, CNN commentator and former Clinton adviser James Carville and Mark Zandi, an economic adviser to Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign who has been providing advice to the Obama White House.
More than a dozen other House Democrats will be in attendance, too, including Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey, a key player on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee; Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller of California, Pelosi's closest ally in the House; Xavier Becerra ofCalifornia, vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus; and Joseph Crowley of New York and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, two up-and-coming Democrats who have previously found themselves in Pelosi's doghouse but are moving to get back into her good graces.
The weekend event is technically not a fundraiser. In the parlance of fundraising pros, it's known as "donor maintenance," a "thank you" from Pelosi to those who have given generously to her and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. To be invited, one must have raised money for the DCCC, been a longtime friend of Pelosi's or contributed $30,4000 to the DCCC this cycle. The maximum an individual may give to a national party committee in any one year.
A donation to the DCCC of that size qualifies a donor to be part of the "Speaker's Cabinet," a fundraising program that gives supporters expanded access to Pelosi. In addition to the annual Napa weekend, Pelosi also will personally provide at least one more private briefing for these maxed-out donors.
According to campaign reports filed by the DCCC, at least 170 individuals, as well as a handful of Native American tribes, reached that maximum donation threshold as of June 30. San Francisco and Bay Area bigwigs are prominent among the collection of big DCCC supporters, including Ann Getty Earhart, an heiress to the Getty oil fortune; Elizabeth Fisher, whose in-laws founded The Gap, the retail clothing giant; and Eugene Eidenberg, a former Carter White House staffer who is now a San Francisco venture capitalist. Paul Pelosi owns up to $50,000 in stock in the investment firm that Eidenberg helped co-found, Granite Ventures, according to Pelosi's annual disclosure report.
Pelosi's aides are tight lipped about who will go to this year's event, but the guest list is expected to include Phil Angelides, a Pelosi ally who unsuccessfully ran against California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006; Steve Elmendorf, a prominent Democratic lobbyist; Dick Gephrdt, the former House minority leader and Democratic presidential candidate; Richard and Judy Guggenhime, Pelosi's close friends and neighbors; Michelle Lerach, wife of the now-imprisoned plaintiff attorney Bill Lerach; George Marcus, a Bay Area commercial real estate broker; Heather and Tony Podesta, a Washington power couple; Marc Stanley, chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council and a big party fundraiser; Steve and Mary Swig, Pelosi friends and financial backers; and Brian Wolff, Pelosi's longtime fundraising and political guru who is now a lobbyist for the Edison Electric Institute.
Altogether, more than 165 guests have already committed to attend the Pelosi weekend, according to informed sources.
"Speaker Pelosi has spent years developing and keeping engaged a broad network of support from the best and brightest minds across America, and they care deeply about the issues facing the country and the Democratic agenda," said Jennifer Crider, the DCCC's deputy executive director and Pelosi's political director.
Pelosi, though, will not allow PAC representatives to attend her weekend soiree, and it's not a chance for lobbyists to curry favor with the speaker, so relatively few take part. In the words of one past attendee, "They don't cut any deals [at this event], so those looking to do so are discouraged from coming."
Since her initial run for Congress in 1987, Pelosi has forged an eclectic mix of political and financial supporters - a blend of Bay Area elites, Washington power players, labor unions, progressive corporate execs, trial lawyers, "old money" families from both coasts and Paul Pelosi's business connections. And the veteran Democratic lawmaker has mined this group with enormous success, for herself and for her party.
Pelosi goes out of her way to court these donors. Her personal touches include frequent gifts of flowers - orchids are her favorite - or chocolate. She will call a sick family member of a big contributor or reach out to her supporters for their take on important policy issues.
"She is very good at the personal, retail level of this stuff," said Steven Kazan, an Oakland-based attorney specializing in asbestos litigation. Kazan cut a $30,400 check to the DCCC in February but isn't sure if he will get to Pelosi's weekend gathering.
Kazan is among the wealthy Pelosi backers who take their cues from the speaker when it comes to giving money to House incumbents and candidates.
"With the House of Representatives, I long ago decided that I could not figure out what races were important," said Kazan, who is constantly hit up for campaign donations. "When someone calls [for a campaign donation], I tell them, 'Nancy Pelosi is my leader. If your name is on her list, I'll give you some money. If it's not, I'm real sorry, but take it up with Nancy.'"
Junior Democrats like Reps. Zack Space of Ohio, Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio, Dina Titus of Nevada, Michael Arcuri of New York, Betsy Markey of Colorado, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Steve Driehaus of Ohio, John Boccieri of Ohio and Suzanne Kosmas of Florida have received tens of thousands from Pelosi's friends and supporters.
Republicans have derided conservative and moderate Democrats who accept money from Pelosi's friends for buying into her "San Francisco values" such as support for gay rights, abortion rights and an end to the U.S. military presence in Iraq.
Pelosi's aides and backers dismiss the GOP criticism as misguided and unrealistic. They say that it is the role of a modern speaker to help his or her vulnerable members raise money for their reelection campaigns, especially in a tough political environment.
Pelosi has committed to personally raising $25 million for the DCCC this cycle, and party sources say she has already heped take in $10.7 million, with more than 14 months to go before the midterm elections.
Pelosi voted for the TARP which included a bailout for AIG which she had stock in. More double dealing.