Speaker Nancy Pelosi had simply urged Brown University graduates to remain resilient and summon their “better angels” on Memorial Day weekend when she was compelled to show her consideration to a much less uplifting state of affairs: her husband’s arrest in California.
The particulars rising from the incident weren’t particularly flattering.
The night time earlier than, May 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 response to 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. But a Jeep was coming down the freeway and hit Mr. Pelosi’s automotive as he made the flip.
The police who responded arrested him on suspicion of driving inebriated and suspicion of driving with a .08 blood alcohol content material or greater. He is due again in courtroom on Aug. 3. If legal prices are filed, he shall be arraigned then. (The driver of the Jeep was not arrested.)
It might 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. (Doctors 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 University and Nike, was retained. The household additionally consulted with John Keker, one in all San Francisco’s most distinguished protection attorneys, and Lee Houskeeper, a longtime public relations government for San Francisco political varieties, together with former Mayor Willie Brown.
The newly assembled group needed to cope with a couple of unwelcome certainties: The accident would refocus consideration on Mr. Pelosi’s troubled driving file, together with a crash when he was an adolescent that left his brother useless. It would additionally ship reporters — from TMZ to The Napa Valley Register — scrambling after each element.
And it could shine a highlight on the Pelosis’ California life, the place the couple inhabit two properties, 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.
Ultimately, a consultant for Ms. Pelosi gave a terse assertion emphasizing Ms. Pelosi’s distance from the accident.
“The speaker will not be commenting on this private matter, which occurred while she was on the East Coast,” it learn.
‘Everybody in San Francisco Now Has a Napa Place’
The Pelosis have had a weekend residence in Napa Valley since 1990, once they spent $2.35 million for his or her property, which got here with a Palladian-style villa, guesthouse and pool.
“It’s not a palace,” Mr. Brown stated. “If you go up there, you will notice that some people have places with caves for the wine and all that kind of stuff. That’s not what they have. They have a place you can actually live in, without servants. You wouldn’t bring the Three Tenors to sing.” But the Pelosis do have a winery, from which they promote grapes.
“Everybody in San Francisco now has a Napa place,” Mr. Brown continued. “Everybody 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 site visitors delays. Ms. Pelosi and her husband additionally host an everyday summer season gathering that’s attended by lots of the Democratic Party’s largest 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 residence of Mr. Mehran, a serious industrial actual property developer. In an interview, Mr. Mehran stated that he had been associates with the Pelosis for greater than 50 years. Since the 2020 election cycle, he has given greater than $1 million to Democratic politicians and teams, in response to Federal Election Commission knowledge.
The Pelosis have taken to Napa, an usually insular world the place household, political and social circles overlap. They have 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 on the Model Bakery (the place David Beckham is an everyday). She will 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.
But even in Napa, Ms. Pelosi, who doesn’t appear to do California informal, is usually seen within the fitted fits which are her Capitol Hill signature. After all, the Pelosis stay San Francisco individuals at coronary heart, and since 1987 have been ensconced in Pacific Heights, maybe town’s most unique neighborhood, the place they personal a three-floor pink brick townhouse.
They make common appearances on the metropolis’s largest 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 have been recognized to show their procuring 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 industrial actual property and the tech sector, remains 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. But 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 best way to put it.”
Mr. Pelosi has, nonetheless, had a historical past of automotive accidents over the course of his life. At 16, in 1957, he was behind the wheel of a sports activities automotive that crashed. His brother David, who was a passenger, was killed. (A jury in the end exonerated Mr. Pelosi of misdemeanor manslaughter prices, in response to information accounts on the time.)
In the late Nineteen Seventies Ms. Pelosi turned the Northern California chair of the Democratic Party. On her approach to a barbecue for an area politician, a automotive that she was in with Mr. Pelosi and quite a few their youngsters flipped on its aspect. No one was damage, and Ms. Pelosi hitched a journey to go meet donors.
The Pelosi camp declined to remark to The New York Times on who was driving.
A Political Career Closely 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 two had a lot in widespread. They have been liberal Democrats and observant Catholics. And each have been Italian American royalty.
When they settled in San Francisco within the late Nineteen 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 courtroom choose who administered the belief of the oil tycoon John Paul Getty.
Nancy and Paul turned associates with John Paul Getty’s son Gordon and Gordon’s spouse, Ann Getty. The households stay shut. Last 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 gown, 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 think about operating for workplace. In 1986, Representative Sala Burton, a Pelosi household buddy, entered the hospital with terminal most cancers. A particular election to switch her was scheduled.
Ms. Pelosi determined to run for her seat, however her home was simply outdoors 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 relaxation is historical past.
Some analysts think about Ms. Pelosi among the many only audio system ever to guide the House, and she or he is a pathbreaking determine in American politics. She has spoken at occasions of how her religion informs her politics, and her need to increase the social security internet, and she or he is credited with pushing the Affordable Care Act by way of the House.
But it’s clear that this spring has been difficult for her.
She has watched whereas the landmark laws handed by the House, the $2 trillion Build Back Better Act, has stalled within the Senate. In addition, House 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 highly effective political and social figures who inhabit the Pelosis’ world, there was ample sympathy and a few protectiveness after what occurred over Memorial Day weekend.
An individual who witnessed the accident stated each vehicles have been totaled, and that Mr. Pelosi merely sat within the automotive, seemingly frozen, for a number of minutes, till the sheriff and members of the Fire Department arrived moments later.
Neither Mr. Pelosi nor the motive 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 automotive service residence.
And some native residents urged that, in an earlier period in Napa, driving after consuming was met with understanding, relatively than legal prices.
“I feel just awful about what’s happened because there was a time when if a thing like this happened, the cops would take you home,” stated the society doyenne Diane Wilsey, higher referred to as Dede.
Ms. Wilsey, who’s Mr. Pelosi’s fellow trustee on the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, 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 everything, but I cannot think of anyone nicer than Nancy or Paul,” she stated.
Meanwhile, in response to The San Francisco Chronicle, the Napa County district legal professional has been busy heading off some 1,500 indignant 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 ready to return to courtroom in August. The native authorities stress that he’ll obtain no particular remedy.
Steve Eder and Thomas Fuller contributed reporting, and Kitty Bennett contributed analysis.