Speaker Nancy Pelosi had simply urged Brown College graduates to remain resilient and summon their “better angels” on Memorial Day weekend when she was pressured to show her consideration to a much less uplifting scenario: her husband’s arrest in California.
The main points rising from the incident weren’t particularly flattering.
The night time earlier than, Could 28, Paul Pelosi, 82, had been in Oakville, among the many nation’s most unique enclaves, leaving a small dinner on the hedgerow-lined property of Alexander Mehran, a longtime buddy and Democratic donor.
Mr. Pelosi received behind the wheel of his black 2021 Porsche 911 to drive the six miles to the Pelosis’ Napa Valley nation home. It was round 10 p.m., in accordance with a police report and eyewitnesses.
He went just a little greater than half a mile and was making an attempt to cross State Route 29 and make a left. However a Jeep was coming down the freeway and hit Mr. Pelosi’s automobile as he made the flip.
The police who responded arrested him on suspicion of driving drunk and suspicion of driving with a .08 blood alcohol content material or increased. He’s due again in court docket on Aug. 3. If felony expenses are filed, he can be arraigned then. (The driving force of the Jeep was not arrested.)
It could not have been solely alcohol that hindered Mr. Pelosi’s driving. Two individuals who have spoken with the Pelosis for the reason that crash stated that Mr. Pelosi had had cataract surgical procedure within the days previous the dinner. (Docs are considerably divided about when it’s acceptable to drive, with estimates that vary from 24 hours to 2 weeks.)
The speaker swung into disaster mode. By Sunday afternoon, Larry Kamer, a disaster supervisor who has a house in Napa and has labored for high-profile shoppers together with Harvard College and Nike, was retained. The household additionally consulted with John Keker, considered one of San Francisco’s most distinguished protection legal professionals, and Lee Houskeeper, a longtime public relations government for San Francisco political sorts, together with former Mayor Willie Brown.
The newly assembled group needed to cope with a number of unwelcome certainties: The accident would refocus consideration on Mr. Pelosi’s troubled driving file, together with a crash when he was a teen that left his brother useless. It will additionally ship reporters — from TMZ to The Napa Valley Register — scrambling after each element.
And it might shine a highlight on the Pelosis’ California life, the place the couple inhabit two houses, together with a 16.55-acre gated property and mingle with different wealthy residents, at a time when financial hardship is straining many individuals of lesser means.
In the end, a consultant for Ms. Pelosi gave a terse assertion emphasizing Ms. Pelosi’s distance from the accident.
“The speaker is not going to be commenting on this personal matter, which occurred whereas she was on the East Coast,” it learn.
‘Everyone in San Francisco Now Has a Napa Place’
The Pelosis have had a weekend dwelling in Napa Valley since 1990, once they spent $2.35 million for his or her property, which came with a Palladian-style villa, guesthouse and pool.
“It’s not a palace,” Mr. Brown stated. “When you go up there, you’ll discover that some individuals have locations with caves for the wine and all that form of stuff. That’s not what they’ve. They’ve a spot you possibly can really stay in, with out servants. You wouldn’t carry the Three Tenors to sing.” However the Pelosis do have a winery, from which they promote grapes.
“Everyone in San Francisco now has a Napa place,” Mr. Brown continued. “Everyone who can afford it.”
Neighbors are conscious of Ms. Pelosi’s common presence, partially due to the safety element that seems when she is in Napa and might trigger visitors delays. Ms. Pelosi and her husband additionally host an everyday summer time gathering that’s attended by lots of the Democratic Occasion’s greatest names.
Ms. Pelosi, additionally 82, often goes to the Memorial Day weekend dinner that her husband attended simply earlier than his arrest, on the Oakville dwelling of Mr. Mehran, a serious business actual property developer. In an interview, Mr. Mehran stated that he had been associates with the Pelosis for greater than 50 years. For the reason that 2020 election cycle, he has given greater than $1 million to Democratic politicians and teams, in accordance with Federal Election Commission data.
The Pelosis have taken to Napa, an typically insular world the place household, political and social circles overlap. They’ve their spots: Ms. Pelosi eats at Pizzeria Tra Vigne, an artisanal pizza place (the place Chelsea Handler was not too long ago noticed), and will get espresso at the Model Bakery (the place David Beckham is an everyday). She could be seen at Sunday Mass at St. Helena Catholic Church, and generally picks up the tab for her daughters’ and granddaughters’ mani-pedis at Blush, the native nail salon.
However even in Napa, Ms. Pelosi, who doesn’t appear to do California informal, is usually seen within the fitted fits which can be her Capitol Hill signature. In any case, the Pelosis stay San Francisco individuals at coronary heart, and since 1987 have been ensconced in Pacific Heights, maybe the town’s most unique neighborhood, the place they personal a three-floor crimson brick townhouse.
They make common appearances on the metropolis’s greatest social occasions — amongst them the San Francisco Symphony’s opening gala — they usually have season tickets to the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers. They’ve been recognized to show their purchasing excursions on the native Giorgio Armani boutique (the place Ms. Pelosi was noticed two weeks in the past) right into a sport of its personal.
Mr. Pelosi, who holds investments in business actual property and the tech sector, continues to be a swaggering presence within the metropolis’s society circuit at 6-foot-2, effectively dressed, with a full head of salt-and-pepper hair. However greater than a dozen individuals interviewed for this text stated that they had by no means seen proof that Mr. Pelosi drinks to extra. (Ms. Pelosi doesn’t drink in any respect.) “Paul is a social drinker,” stated Mr. Mehran, 71. “That’s the easiest way to place it.”
Mr. Pelosi has, nevertheless, had a historical past of automobile accidents over the course of his life. At 16, in 1957, he was behind the wheel of a sports activities automobile that crashed. His brother David, who was a passenger, was killed. (A jury in the end exonerated Mr. Pelosi of misdemeanor manslaughter expenses, in accordance with information accounts on the time.)
Within the late Nineteen Seventies Ms. Pelosi grew to become the Northern California chair of the Democratic Occasion. On her method to a barbecue for an area politician, a automobile that she was in with Mr. Pelosi and a lot of their youngsters flipped on its facet. Nobody was harm, and Ms. Pelosi hitched a journey to go meet donors.
The Pelosi camp declined to remark to The New York Occasions on who was driving.
A Political Profession Carefully Tied to San Francisco Society
Paul Pelosi’s household roots are in San Francisco, however he met Ms. Pelosi once they have been each faculty college students in Washington, D.C. The 2 had a lot in widespread. They have been liberal Democrats and observant Catholics. And each have been Italian American royalty.
After they settled in San Francisco within the late Sixties, Mr. Pelosi’s connections within the metropolis catapulted them into influential circles. His brother Ronald Pelosi, a rising political star on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was married to Barbara Newsom, the aunt of the state’s future governor Gavin Newsom and the sister of William Newsom (Gavin’s father), an appeals court docket choose who administered the belief of the oil tycoon John Paul Getty.
Nancy and Paul grew to become associates with John Paul Getty’s son Gordon and Gordon’s spouse, Ann Getty. The households stay shut. Final November, simply earlier than heading to Glasgow to handle the COP26 U.N. world local weather summit, Ms. Pelosi officiated on the marriage ceremony of Mr. Getty’s granddaughter Ivy Getty. (Ms. Getty, who wore a 16-foot veil and a mirrored John Galliano for Maison Margiela dress, is an oil heiress; criticism from progressive Democrats adopted.)
Ms. Pelosi’s rise in politics started as a fund-raiser, however as her youngsters grew, she started to contemplate operating for workplace. In 1986, Consultant Sala Burton, a Pelosi household buddy, entered the hospital with terminal most cancers. A particular election to interchange her was scheduled.
Ms. Pelosi determined to run for her seat, however her home was simply exterior the district. So Mr. Pelosi leased the townhouse in Pacific Heights, and the household moved about 15 blocks northeast. Ms. Burton endorsed Ms. Pelosi days earlier than she died. The remainder is historical past.
Some analysts think about Ms. Pelosi among the most effective speakers ever to steer the Home, and she or he is a pathbreaking determine in American politics. She has spoken at instances of how her religion informs her politics, and her need to develop the social security internet, and she or he is credited with pushing the Reasonably priced Care Act by means of the Home.
But it surely’s clear that this spring has been difficult for her.
She has watched whereas the landmark laws handed by the Home, the $2 trillion Construct Again Higher Act, has stalled within the Senate. As well as, Home Democrats seem poised for a shellacking this fall, which might imply Ms. Pelosi must hand over the speaker’s gavel, 35 years into her congressional profession.
Among the many highly effective political and social figures who inhabit the Pelosis’ world, there was considerable sympathy and a few protectiveness after what occurred over Memorial Day weekend.
An individual who witnessed the accident stated each automobiles have been totaled, and that Mr. Pelosi merely sat within the automobile, seemingly frozen, for a number of minutes, till the sheriff and members of the Hearth Division arrived moments later.
Neither Mr. Pelosi nor the driving force of the Jeep was injured.
Some associates felt that Mr. Pelosi’s full night time in custody on the Napa County Jail after the accident was extreme. Others have been puzzled why their buddy hadn’t pre-empted the entire ordeal by merely taking a automobile service dwelling.
And a few native residents urged that, in an earlier period in Napa, driving after ingesting was met with understanding, somewhat than felony expenses.
“I really feel simply terrible about what’s occurred as a result of there was a time when if a factor like this occurred, the cops would take you dwelling,” stated the society doyenne Diane Wilsey, higher referred to as Dede.
Ms. Wilsey, who’s Mr. Pelosi’s fellow trustee on the San Francisco Warfare Memorial and Performing Arts Middle, is a Republican, however she has donated to a number of of the speaker’s political campaigns, and sees the couple socially in California.
“I don’t agree with Nancy on the whole lot, however I can not consider anybody nicer than Nancy or Paul,” she stated.
In the meantime, according to The San Francisco Chronicle, the Napa County district legal professional has been busy keeping off some 1,500 offended calls impressed by right-wing pundits, together with Donald Trump Jr., claiming with out proof that Mr. Pelosi wouldn’t “face any consequence” for the incident. Mr. Pelosi is about to return to court docket in August. The native authorities stress that he’ll obtain no particular therapy.
Steve Eder and Thomas Fuller contributed reporting, and Kitty Bennett contributed analysis.