Wash. Times advanced false suggestion that Pelosi got "campaign cash" from Del Monte

››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

In his January 17 "Inside Politics" column for The Washington Times, Greg Pierce quoted a posting on the website of nationally syndicated radio host Neal Boortz that falsely suggested Del Monte Foods was "loading" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) "with campaign cash." The posting asserted that this was a factor in the Democrats' exemption of American Samoa from the recent House proposal to increase the minimum wage. In fact, as reported by CNN and noted by Washington Post congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman, Pelosi did not receive any donations from the company:

  • On the January 12 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN correspondent Lisa Sylvester reported that "Del Monte has not contributed to Pelosi's campaign and, in fact, has given more to Republicans."
  • On the January 12 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN correspondent Brian Todd reported: "A Pelosi aide denies she's been lobbied by Del Monte. Company officials say the same. Records show Del Monte's employees contributed very little to Democrats over the past two years. A Pelosi aide even says she had nothing to do with this part of the legislation."
  • In the January 12 edition of washingtonpost.com's Post Politics Hour online discussion, Weisman noted that "Del Monte executives have given to Republicans almost exclusively and have given nothing to Pelosi or the major Democratic committees."

The posting on Boortz's website followed accusations by Republicans that American Samoa was left off the recent bill increasing the minimum wage because a Del Monte subsidiary, StarKist, is one of the territory's largest employers, and Del Monte is headquartered in Pelosi's San Francisco district. Although the Republican allegations were covered by CNN and the Associated Press, The Washington Times claimed that the story was the subject of a "[m]edia blackout."

From The Washington Times' January 17 "Inside Politics" column:

Media blackout

"So what happened to the story about Nancy Pelosi exempting American Samoa from the minimum wage because it benefits companies in her district?" radio talk-show host Neal Boortz asks at his blog site, boortz.com/nuze.

"Here we have a juicy little story affecting the Speaker of the House, and the media has chosen to look the other way. Imagine if this had been Newt Gingrich or Dennis Hastert. Would the press be so kind? Nope ... but hey, this is a Democrat ... the big cheese, the head honcho. She gets a pass. Maybe it's because Dems plan to revise the bill to include American Samoa and cover the speaker's behind," Mr. Boortz said.

"Never mind the hypocrisy of it all. Democrats stand up there and tell us that you can't raise a family on $5.15 an hour, that it needs to be raised to $7.25. Evidently you can raise a family on $7.25 an hour, even if it is phased in over two years. But when it comes to American Samoa, that's different. And as long as the Del Monte Corporation, through its Star Kist subsidiary, is loading you up with campaign cash ... then well ... maybe you can raise a family on $5.15 an hour. At least if you live in American Samoa.

"So the story will wither on the vine, thanks to media bias. Can you imagine if Tom DeLay were doing this? It would still be front-page news. But Nancy Pelosi is a Democrat, and Democrats are protected by the media. You should know that by now."

From the January 12 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:

SYLVESTER: Now, the average wage in American Samoa is $3.50 an hour. The House Education and Labor Committee will review the wages being paid there and investigate why they have been historically lower than in other U.S. territories. By the way, Lou [Dobbs, host], Del Monte has not contributed to Pelosi's campaign and, in fact, has given more to Republicans -- Lou.

From the January 12 edition of CNN's The Situation Room at 4 p.m. ET:

TODD: Hold the hypocrisy talk, say top Democrats. Their aides tell CNN American Samoa's always been held to a different wage standard, including when Republicans were in power, because it's so difficult for the island's tuna canneries to compete with plants in Pacific Rim countries that pay their workers next to nothing.

A Pelosi aide denies she's been lobbied by Del Monte. Company officials say the same.

Records show Del Monte's employees contributed very little to Democrats over the past two years. A Pelosi aide even says she had nothing to do with this part of the legislation. But today, the political storm forced her to backtrack.

From the January 12 edition of washingtonpost.com's Post Politics Hour:

Jonathan Weisman: I looked at Del Monte, which is San Francisco-based, but Del Monte executives have given to Republicans almost exclusively and have given nothing to Pelosi or the major Democratic committees. If they had, we would have printed it, but our standards are a little higher than the guilt-by-association standards of our competitor.

Posted In
Elections, Campaign Finance
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
Person
Greg Pierce
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