GOP Criticizes Pelosi's Water Project
Monday, May 7, 2007; 5:41 PM
WASHINGTON -- Republicans are accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of including a provision in a water redevelopment bill that could benefit property her husband owns in San Francisco.
Aides to the San Francisco Democrat denied any connection, noting that the waterfront improvements were requested by the Port of San Francisco and the four rental properties in question are at least a mile away.
Republicans, who raised the issue more than two weeks after the bill passed the House, offered no evidence of benefit to Paul Pelosi's real estate holdings.
"I don't have any facts to say anything untoward has been done here," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, chairman of the Republican Study Committee.
"She should explain to the American people what the earmark is all about and convince people there's no financial benefit to her," he said.
John Hart, a spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said that "on its face it appears to be a conflict of interest."
Pelosi's project was part of the $15 billion Water Resources Development Act that passed the House April 19 by 394-25 and pays for hundreds of projects around the country.
Pelosi's measure would authorize $25 million to improve San Francisco port areas, and also would put some areas off limits to navigation so cruise ships could dock.
Her investor husband gets rental income from four buildings in a nearby commercial district.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said that she added the projects to the bill at the request of the Port of San Francisco and that her husband's holdings were not a consideration. It's "speculative at best" that they would benefit, Hammill said.
"This is another baseless attack from a Republican minority seeking to distract from real issues of the day," said Hammill.
Since Pelosi became speaker in January, Republicans have sought to stir controversy over the size of the plane she uses to fly to California, wages paid by a tuna cannery owned by a company headquartered in her district, and her use of C-SPAN footage on her blog.
The Senate is expected to take up its version of the water projects bill Tuesday. The Senate bill wouldn't authorize money for port improvements but would put some San Francisco port areas off limits to navigation.