Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is under some fire for the way she uses military aircraft.
Shortly after the 9/11 attack, the White House mandated that the speaker of the House, third in line for the presidency, travel by government aircraft rather than commercial. Then-Speaker Dennis Hastert used a 12-seat Air Force jet. But Mrs. Pelosi prefers the much more expensive Gulfstream V.
Now, there is a legitimate reason, as Hastert could fly non-stop to his home in Illinois on the smaller plane, while that same aircraft would have to stop to refuel in order to get Pelosi home to San Francisco.
However, the group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information request, and based on documents received says that Ms. Pelosi often cancels and changes military flights at the last minute, costing the taxpayers a bundle. According to the group, she took at least 50 military flights between February 2007 and November 2008.
Using private charter rates, 50 flights coast to coast would cost close to $1 million.
"The Factor" called the speakers office to ask exactly how many military jets Ms. Pelosi has used since she became speaker a little more than two years ago. Her spokesman, Brendan Daly, says the office does not know exactly how many trips Ms. Pelosi has taken on Air Force jets. That seems hard to fathom.
"Talking Points" believes that Nancy Pelosi and all other elected officials have an obligation to save taxpayer money whenever they can. That means keeping close track of all expenses, especially huge items like private military travel.
Remember, just a few weeks ago the speaker and her entourage traveled to Rome and other European destinations — we assume on a large Air Force jet.
And Ms. Pelosi is not the only Democrat living large.
The Web site Politico is reporting that Congressman John Murtha received more than $2 million in campaign contributions from an outfit called PMA, which has benefited from Murtha-driven earmarks. If true, that means you and I are paying for some of Murtha's travel and office expenses.
And Congressman Charles Rangel continues to be investigated by the House ethics committee for all kinds of financial shenanigans, including dodging taxes on a Caribbean condo and living in New York City subsidized by the taxpayer.
By the way, Pelosi and Murtha and Rangel all have declined our invitations to appear.
With President Obama spending tax dollars at a frightening rate, it is imperative that he rein in his crew. No more lavish spending by elected Democrats or Republicans. I am tired of my hard-earned dollars going to Charlie Rangel so he can live in a rent-stabilized apartment with a view of Central Park.
While Speaker Pelosi is legally entitled to her Air Force perk, does anyone believe she is not milking it? Anyone?
Hey, Mr. President, how about some change we can believe in?
And that's "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
ABC has announced that actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, will host a special on the nature of optimism. Mr. Fox has been especially public about his struggle, and we admire his courage. So we're looking forward, optimistically, to his special and believe he is a patriot.
On the pinhead front, 40-year-old Kelly Bensimon, a cable TV show housewife and model, is apparently not to be messed with. She has been arrested on an assault charge here in New York City for allegedly smacking her 30-year-old boyfriend. The boyfriend told the press that Kelly had the courtesy to take her engagement ring off before the blow rained down. We hesitate to call Ms. Kelly a pinhead or anything else — for obvious reasons — but she can't read minds. We hope.