A right-leaning website today claimed that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s daughter had speculated to a reporter that the former Speaker is done with Congress and remains in office simply because her donors want her to stay.
The incident lit up the Internet and Twitter, and the California Democrat’s office was forced to issue a strong denial, a circumstance that unusually showcased a politician’s family and highlighted new partisan media terrain.
“This may be wishful thinking on the part of a right wing blog, but it is totally untrue. When the day comes and Leader Pelosi’s work is done, she won’t be announcing it there,” Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami told Roll Call in an email.
Andrew Breitbart’s website Big Government quoted Pelosi’s daughter, filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, saying her mother wants to leave Congress.
“She would retire right now, if the donors she has didn’t want her to stay so badly,” the website claimed the younger Pelosi said in a phone interview. “They know she wants to leave, though. ... She has very few days left. She’s 71, she wants to have a life, she’s done.”.
Politico reported that Alexandra Pelosi did not deny making the comments. “I don’t speak for Nancy Pelosi — I was merely projecting my own personal opinions,” she told Politico in an email.
Breitbart’s critics say the media impresario lacks credibility, especially because he has publicly stated that he is out to get liberals.
In a few notable cases, he has succeeded. Breitbart was largely responsible for outing Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner (N.Y.) after the Congressman sent lewd pictures via his Twitter account.
Breitbart is also being sued for libel by Shirley Sherrod, who resigned in 2010 from a U.S. Department of Agriculture position after Big Government posted a video of her making what seemed to be racially tinged comments. Sherrod said the video was edited in a way that made the comments seem inflammatory.
Pelosi sought to claim the Minority Leader spot after the Democrats’ devastating losses in the 2010 midterm elections, citing the support of her Caucus. She said at the time in a statement that she was “driven by the urgency of protecting health care reform, Wall Street reform, and Social Security and Medicare.”
But her decision to stick around angered a number of the party’s moderates, who would have preferred her longtime rival, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), 72, as the Caucus’s new leader. Hoyer declined to challenge Pelosi and was selected as Whip instead. The moderates still mounted a futile effort to topple her. About 43 Democrats voted for Blue Dog Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) instead of Pelosi for Leader, and 19 refused to vote for her for Speaker in the vote enshrining Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) in that role in January.