“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” ~P. J. O’Rourke
During the Bush stimulus package in 2007, an email began circulating about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s potential personal gain as a result of the changes to minimum wage.
Excerpts of the email with annotations is below:
“Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s home House District includes San Francisco. Star-Kist Tuna’s headquarters are in San Francisco, Pelosi’s home district. Star-Kist is owned by Del Monte Foods and is a major contributor to Pelosi. Star-Kist is the major employer in American Samoa employing 75% of the Samoan workforce. Paul Pelosi, Nancy’s husband, owns $17 million dollars of Star-Kist stock.“
There are loopholes in the legislation for members of congress that allow them to obscure some of the details of their personal investments. As a result, it is unclear whether or not a significant portion of the Pelosi’s $120,000,000 in investments currently include Del Monte or StarKist.
“In January, 2007 when the minimum wage was increased from $5.15 to $7.25, Pelosi had American Samoa exempted from the increase so Del Monte would not have to pay the higher wage. This would make Del Monte products less expensive than their competition’s.“
There is evidently no ‘smoking gun’ pointing to Pelosi as architect of the exemption from minimum wage increases at that time for American Samoa. Nancy Pelosi’s team has indicated that she has “little input” into the details of the bill, such as the American Samoa exemption, but reportedly did not say that she had no involvement whatsoever.
The final version of the bill did not exempt American Samoa from the minimum wage laws. It is unclear if the bill would have included the exemption, had the story not been shared/emailed regarding the Pelosi connection in 2007.
“Last week when the huge bailout bill was passed, Pelosi added an earmark to the final bill adding $33 million dollars for an “economic development credit in American Samoa”.
Democrat, Del. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega represents American Samoa in the House and is a nonvoting member, much like Democrat Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of DC. Faleomavaega fought to retain the exemption from minimum wage. He has received significant campaign contributions from StarKist.
Speaker Pelosi’s involvement is not clear. However, it is clear that she is tied to the economic success of American Samoa; the dominance of the tuna industry is strong enough there, that something like a change to the minimum wage could have a dramatic effect. The citizens of American Samoa do not have the financial power to influence the Speaker nor the Democrat Representative Faleomavaega, but StarKist/Del Monte does.
What we do know is this: Nancy Pelosi receives $234,000 per year in salary to represent the people of the San Francisco region in the House. As Speaker of the House, her power extends well beyond that, to a responsibility to the American people, in all territories and states. Her personal wealth is substantial, with $120,000,000 in her bank account. There are many others in the country, including President Trump, who have substantial wealth. The difference is that Pelosi has made her fortune under the guise of ‘serving the American people.’ Her public servant’s salary is not substantial enough to have amassed such a significant sum which begs the question whether or not her political power allowed her to gain financially and personally.
The accusations are not likely 100% true, but it is a fishy story nonetheless.
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” ~Carl Sagan
“Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.” ~George Bernard Shaw
“Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.” ~John Steinbeck
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” ~Lord Acton