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PolitiFact: Bachmann's "$100,000 bar tab" barb on House Speaker Pelosi was $93,000 too strong

The statement

"Speaker Pelosi … has been busy sticking the taxpayer with her $100,000 bar tab for alcohol on the military jets that she's flying."

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn, Sept. 17 in a speech to the Values Voter Summit

The ruling

Addressing the Values Voter Summit, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., took a shot at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., saying she "has been busy sticking the taxpayer with her $100,000 bar tab for alcohol on the military jets that she's flying." That's a reference to the Air Force jets that Pelosi uses to fly internationally and back to her home in San Francisco. (Her GOP predecessor, Dennis Hastert of Illinois, used them as well.)

Pelosi's office countered that the speaker "does not drink alcohol" and that there "is no alcohol service on the domestic flights the Air Force operates for travel from Washington to San Francisco for the Speaker."

The original source of Bachmann's allegation was a large collection of documents obtained by Judicial Watch. In a press release, Judicial Watch wrote that "the Speaker's military travel cost the United States Air Force $2,100,745 over a two-year period — $101,429 of which was for in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol." The release cited one congressional delegation that went to Baghdad in 2008, taking top-shelf scotch, whiskey, gin, rum, beer and wine.

Bachmann says Pelosi has spent $100,000 on alcohol, but that doesn't fly with the Judicial Watch summary. The news release said that the $101,429 amount was for "in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol." And FactCheck.org determined that the sum spent on alcohol is a small part of that amount, and that not all of the expenses were in-flight.

"Judicial Watch counted as 'in-flight expenses' any non-reimbursable Air Force expenditure besides transportation costs," FactCheck.org wrote, and that included "baggage fees, meeting room rentals and refreshments, … good-will lapel pins … meals, ground transportation and lodging in U.S. territory."

Judicial Watch confirmed that "the tab amount includes, but is not limited to, alcohol and food."

Assuming no alcohol is served on Pelosi's domestic flights, FactCheck.org found that she took a total of 12 international trips, with a total alcohol tab of less than $7,000. Bachmann should have read the Judicial Watch news release more closely. She cited a figure for alcohol that was close to the much larger number for all nonplane costs of the trip. We rate her claim Pants on Fire.

Edited for print. For more, go to PolitiFact.com.

PolitiFact: Bachmann's "$100,000 bar tab" barb on House Speaker Pelosi was $93,000 too strong 09/21/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 10:08pm]
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