Is Nancy Pelosi a crook?

Lachlan Marklay, writing in the Washington Free Beacon, reports that Nancy Pelosi steered more than a billion dollars in subsidies to a light rail project that benefitted a company run by a high-dollar Democratic donor and in which her husband is a major investor. Here, according to Marklay, is how the scheme operated:

Pelosi has worked for more than a decade to steer taxpayer funds to a light rail project in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood, where Salesforce had planned a new campus. Experts say the project boosted the value of Mission Bay real estate.

The company’s CEO, Marc Benioff, is a high-dollar Democratic donor. Pelosi and her leadership PAC are among the recipients of his generous campaign contributions. Pelosi’s husband is also a major Salesforce investor.

In April, Salesforce sold its property in the Mission Bay area for a significant profit. CEO Benioff, the big Dem donor, obviously benefited from the increase in property values that federal funding helped generate. So did Pelosi, through her husband’s large investment in Salesforce.

Power Line readers won’t be surprised to find Tom Steyer’s hand in this affair. Marklay reports that Salesforce bought the land in question from Alexandria Real Estate Equities, which had purchased it from FOCIL-MB, a division of Democratic financier Tom Steyer’s hedge fund, Farallon Capital.

Mission Bay has been home to some of the fastest growing property values in San Francisco. The increase has coincided with the expansion of the city’s Third Street Light Rail line. According to Marklay, studies on the financial effects of public transit projects, including one that looked specifically at the Third Street expansion, show the connection between the expansion and the increased property values, which should be obvious in any event.

Pelosi has championed the expansion of this rail line for more than a decade. Since 2003, says Marklay, she has secured well over a billion dollars for the project in the form of earmarks, federal funding agreements, and stimulus disbursements.

In 2004, Farallon, Steyer’s hedge fund, gained ownership of roughly two million square feet of commercial space in Mission Bay. The property obtained in 2010 by Salesforce is estimated at a little under 1.5 square feet.

Paul Pelosi’s holdings in Salesforce amount to between $500,000 and $1 million, according to the former Speaker’s financial disclosure statement. Pelosi first purchased the stock in 2000. When it debuted on the market in 2004, it was worth $3.75 per share. This week, it was trading at just under $53.

Saleforce’s CEO Benioff bundled $500,000 for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign and donated $300,000 to Democratic candidates, party organs, and interest groups, according to data compiled by CQ Moneyline. He donates to Republicans as well, but only to the tune of $62,000.

In January of last year, Benioff made two contributions of $2,500 to Pelosi, $5,000 to her leadership PAC, and $15,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Four months earlier, Pelosi had secured $967 million in federal funding for the Third Street light rail project.

Apparently, Paul Pelosi is himself the owner of property that will benefit from the Third Street light rail expansion. Hoover Institution fellow Peter Schweizer, in his book Throw Them All Out, reported that two stops on the extended light rail line are located about three blocks from a four-story office building owned by Paul Pelosi. Schweizer notes that according to the National Association of Realtors, high-quality mass transit (like the Third Street light rail) can increase property values by more than 150 percent.

So, is Nancy Pelosi a crook? We report, you decide.

Responses