The media continues to pound a false Washington Times report accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of wasting government resources by “demanding permanent access to a large military jet for herself, her staff, other Members and supporters.”
In fact, Pelosi’s office has stated repeatedly, from the beginning, that “it is up to the Air Force to decide what type and size of plane will be required,” and that she “will not use the plane for political travel.”
Conservatives have tried to bolster their attack by claiming that former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) only used his military aircraft for official business. The Washington Times quoted an unnamed “former Hastert aide” saying Hastert “did not use military planes for political trips or regularly transport his family.” But Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynne Sweet says that isn’t true:
On Sunday, Oct. 1, Hastert’s team was scrambling to contain the escalating fallout from the Foley page scandal.
That day, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), then the chairman of the page board, had gotten an urgent phone call from Stokke. The Hastert team wanted Shimkus to return to Washington immediately from his home in southern Illinois in order to appear at a press conference on Monday with the Speaker, and they did not want to deal with commercial flight schedules.
So at 8 p.m. that day, Shimkus arrived at the military side of the Scott Air Force Base near Belleville to board the Speaker’s jet that had been dispatched for him.
The plane then headed to an airport near Aurora, Ill., to pick up Hastert, who had been weekending at his home in Plano, before flying on to Washington.
That Monday, Hastert and Shimkus headlined a press conference in the Capitol to talk about the Foley resignation.
For those who don’t remember, Shimkus is the former House Page Board chair who learned of Foley’s inappropriate emails and then refused to inform the Democrat on the board, Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI).
Pelosi said today she will fly commercial rather than use the aircraft offered by the Pentagon, which cannot reach her home district in California without stopping to refuel.