Bachmann’s tale of Pelosi’s bar tab rates ‘Pants on Fire’, says PolitiFact

WASHINGTON — As an example of out-of-touch Washington run amok, Rep. Michele Bachmann told an audience at the Values Voters Summit over the weekend that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “has been busy sticking the taxpayer with her $100,000 bar tab for alcohol on the military jets that she’s flying.”

Trouble is, says the Pulitzer Prize-winning factchecking group PolitiFact, it’s not true. In fact, they rated the statement as “Pants on Fire.” The nexus of the report, which sourced Bachmann’s statement to a news release issued months ago by Judicial Watch:

“The news release said that the $101,429.14 amount was for “in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol.” But our friends at the website determined that the sum spent on alcohol is a small proportion of that amount and that not all of the expenses were in-flight. “It’s clear that Judicial Watch is counting as ‘in-flight expenses’ any non-reimbursable Air Force expenditure besides transportation costs,” wrote. “That category actually includes all non-plane costs of the trip, including baggage fees, meeting room rentals and refreshments, and, frequently, good-will lapel pins — as well as meals, ground transportation and lodging in U.S. territory.”

A spokeswoman for Judicial Watch confirmed to PolitiFact that “the tab amount includes, but is not limited to, alcohol and food.”


It’s fair game to argue that buying liquor for lawmaker jaunts is an unjustifiable taxpayer expenditure even if perfectly legal. However, if Bachmann wanted to criticize these outlays, she should have read the Judicial Watch news release more closely. Since Bachmann (or her staff) didn’t do so, she ended up citing a figure for alcohol expenditures that was close to the much larger number for all non-plane costs of the trip. We rate her statement Pants on Fire.

Bachmann has been rated 11 times by PolitiFact, with six “False” and five “Pants on Fire” ratings. I contacted Bachmann’s campaign and official office spokespeople for comment on this and will be happy to update this as I hear from them.

She has taken issue with the news agency before: Then-spokeswoman Debbee Keller told the New York Times in 2009 that Bachmann takes their ratings “with a grain of salt.”

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/21/2010 - 12:13 pm.

    Bachmann’s point is that if Pelosi, or any other government employee spends $100,000 or $.01 of taxpayer money on booze, it’s unacceptable.

  2. Submitted by Lora Jones on 09/21/2010 - 12:49 pm.

    I should have known that if anyone could read Bachmann’s mind it would be Mr. Swift. So far as the alcohol goes, it’s a (very minor) point well taken, although I shudder to think of Tom DeLay’s booze expenses . . .

    The major point, underlined by FactCheck is that our dear representative is a serial, habitual, chronic liar.

  3. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/21/2010 - 01:32 pm.

    Read the full piece, using the link provided above, for the full flavor of Rep. Bachmann’s error. (Assuming she or a staff member actually read something other than a blog that picked up and ran with the inaccurate numbers.)

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/21/2010 - 01:49 pm.

    Yes, well making that case against Repub’s is what the Annenberg Foundation put FactCheck in business to do, Lori.

    And I understand the importance that holds for leftists; the thoughtful public, however, has trouble crediting anything Bill Ayers ever had anything to do with.

    FWIW; picking up Tom DeLay’s bar tab is just as unacceptable to common sense conservatives as picking up Pelosi’s is.

  5. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 09/21/2010 - 02:40 pm.

    Mr. Swift: “FWIW; picking up Tom DeLay’s bar tab is just as unacceptable to common sense conservatives as picking up Pelosi’s is. ”

    Are you saying that with a straight face? I kinda suspect you wouldn’t be saying that if old Tom Delay was still in Congress. Now that he is not there, statements like that seem a matter of expediency.

    And regarding Ms. Bachmann, this article seems to be just another revelation of her proclivity to painting her nemeses with broad dark brushes. While on the surface, she may be wagging an accusatory finger at the “wastefulness” of Speaker Pelosi, it is also very apparent that Ms. Pelosi is being portrayed as a depraved alcoholic. That is really funny because as everybody knows, the next (presumptive) Speaker could be Mr. Boehner. And, oh, we hear he abhors the bottle oh so much!

  6. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/21/2010 - 03:42 pm.

    Mr. Swift–
    Lying is an impeachable offense.

  7. Submitted by Roy Everson on 09/22/2010 - 01:02 am.

    As common as flying is, there are still many of us out there who get a little heebie/jeebieish up there in the blue beyond. A wee bit to drink can be a good thing for the overall mood of passengers. I’d bet any flight crew would concur. Drinking a little on a flight should be nonpartisan.

    The main point, of course, is that Bachmann’s a habitual liar.

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