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Q&A: Evidence doesn't support Pelosi tuna rumors

Evidence doesn’t support rumors about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Star-Kist Tuna.

Associated Press

Evidence doesn’t support rumors about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Star-Kist Tuna.

Fishy Pelosi rumors false

We received an e-mail regarding allegations about Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from a reader who said "we should fire our entire government and get honest people in there to run our country like it was years ago. . . . for the people and not for their pockets." The e-mail suggested Pelosi blocked passage of an increase in the minimum wage for American Samoa because her husband invests heavily in Star-Kist Tuna (made in that territory) and because Del Monte, which was Star-Kist's parent company until late 2008, has contributed heavily to her. "And Pelosi has called the Bush government corrupt?" the e-mail asks.

A special touch to this e-mail includes this headline: "SNOPES validates the below."

Some background: Snopes ( is a Web site that looks into urban legends for truthfulness. It does a terrific job at separating fact and fiction, and this e-mail tries to capitalize on that reputation by proclaiming the information was confirmed by Snopes.

So, naturally, we turned to Snopes to see what it had to say. The answer: Like many mass e-mails with sensational charges, this one contains some truth but falls apart when examined closely.

For example, Del Monte's headquarters are in San Francisco, which is in Pelosi's district. But Snopes says even the conservative newspaper the Washington Times acknowledged there is no evidence Del Monte contributed to Pelosi in the past five years, though it had given to Republicans.

A provision in a bill did exempt American Samoa from the increase in the minimum wage. But the exemption request came from delegate Eni Faleomavaega, a Democrat who serves as the Pacific Islands' nonvoting representative. And once objections were raised to the exclusion, the bill was redone to apply to all territories.

The e-mail also alleges that Pelosi's husband owns $17 million worth of stock in Del Monte. Snopes determined there were no facts supporting or refuting that claim.

Really a talking point

How does the filibuster system work, and what is its purpose?

In the Senate, a filibuster is used to extend debate on a measure to delay a vote on it. Ending the debate requires three-fifths of the full Senate — 60 votes — to call the question to a vote. Senate rules contain no motion to force a vote, and voting occurs only when debate ends.

In 1957, South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond set the filibuster record of 24 hours, 18 minutes when he unsuccessfully tried to prevent a vote on a civil rights bill.

The term comes from the early 19th century Spanish and Portuguese pirates, filibusteros, who held ships hostage for ransom. The filibuster appeared in American politics in the 1850s when a minority of senators succeeded in delaying the vote on the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

Q&A: Evidence doesn't support Pelosi tuna rumors 02/23/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 23, 2009 10:41pm]
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