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 small print rising from the incident weren’t particularly flattering.
The night time earlier than, Could 28, Paul Pelosi, 82, had been in Oakville, amongst the nation’s most unique enclaves, leaving a small dinner at the hedgerow-lined property of Alexander Mehran, a longtime good friend and Democratic donor.
Mr. Pelosi acquired 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 somewhat 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 beneath the affect of alcohol and suspicion of driving with a .08 blood alcohol content material or increased. He’s due again in court docket on Aug. 3. If criminal charges are filed, he will be arraigned then. (The motive force 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 since the crash mentioned that Mr. Pelosi had had cataract surgical procedure in 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 purchasers together with Harvard College and Nike, was retained. The household additionally consulted with John Keker, one of San Francisco’s most distinguished protection legal professionals, and Lee Houskeeper, a longtime public relations govt for San Francisco political sorts, together with former Mayor Willie Brown.
The newly assembled group needed to take care of just a few 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 lifeless. It could 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.
Finally, a consultant for Ms. Pelosi gave a terse assertion emphasizing Ms. Pelosi’s distance from the accident.
“The speaker won’t be commenting on this non-public 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 residence in Napa Valley since 1990, after 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 mentioned. “For those who go up there, you’ll discover that some folks have locations with caves for the wine and all that sort of stuff. That’s not what they’ve. They’ve a spot you’ll be able to really stay in, with out servants. You wouldn’t convey 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 as a result of of 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 time gathering that’s attended by many of the Democratic Occasion’s largest names.
Ms. Pelosi, additionally 82, normally goes to the Memorial Day weekend dinner that her husband attended simply earlier than his arrest, at the Oakville residence of Mr. Mehran, a significant industrial actual property developer. In an interview, Mr. Mehran mentioned that he had been mates 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 accordance with Federal Election Commission data.
The Pelosis have taken to Napa, an usually 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 will be seen at Sunday Mass at St. Helena Catholic Church, and typically 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 commonly seen in the fitted fits which can be her Capitol Hill signature. In any case, the Pelosis stay San Francisco folks at coronary heart, and since 1987 have been ensconced in Pacific Heights, maybe the metropolis’s most unique neighborhood, the place they personal a three-floor crimson brick townhouse.
They make common appearances at the metropolis’s largest social occasions — amongst them the San Francisco Symphony’s opening gala — and so they have season tickets to the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers. They’ve been recognized to show their purchasing excursions at 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 in the metropolis’s society circuit at 6-foot-2, properly dressed, with a full head of salt-and-pepper hair. However greater than a dozen folks interviewed for this text mentioned they’d by no means seen proof that Mr. Pelosi drinks to extra. (Ms. Pelosi doesn’t drink in any respect.) “Paul is a social drinker,” mentioned Mr. Mehran, 71. “That’s the finest method to put it.”
Mr. Pelosi has, nonetheless, 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 finally exonerated Mr. Pelosi of misdemeanor manslaughter costs, in accordance with information accounts at the time.)
In the late Seventies Ms. Pelosi turned 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 quantity of their youngsters flipped on its aspect. 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 Intently Tied to San Francisco Society
Paul Pelosi’s household roots are in San Francisco, however he met Ms. Pelosi after they had been each school college students in Washington, D.C. The 2 had a lot in frequent. They had been liberal Democrats and observant Catholics. And each had been Italian American royalty.
Once they settled in San Francisco in the late Sixties, Mr. Pelosi’s connections in 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 turned mates 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. international local weather summit, Ms. Pelosi officiated at the wedding 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 working for workplace. In 1986, Consultant Sala Burton, a Pelosi household good friend, entered the hospital with terminal most cancers. A particular election to exchange 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 contemplate Ms. Pelosi among the most effective speakers ever to steer the Home, and he or she is a pathbreaking determine in American politics. She has spoken at occasions of how her religion informs her politics, and her need to broaden the social security web, and he or she is credited with pushing the Reasonably priced Care Act by the Home.
However it’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 in 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.
Amongst the 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 mentioned each vehicles had been totaled, and that Mr. Pelosi merely sat in 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 driver of the Jeep was injured.
Some mates felt that Mr. Pelosi’s full night time in custody at the Napa County Jail after the accident was extreme. Others had been puzzled why their good friend hadn’t pre-empted the complete ordeal by merely taking a automobile service residence.
And a few native residents instructed that, in an earlier period in Napa, driving after ingesting was met with understanding, moderately than legal costs.
“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 residence,” mentioned the society doyenne Diane Wilsey, higher often called Dede.
Ms. Wilsey, who’s Mr. Pelosi’s fellow trustee at the San Francisco Struggle Memorial and Performing Arts Heart, 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 all the pieces, however I can not suppose of anybody nicer than Nancy or Paul,” she mentioned.
In the meantime, according to The San Francisco Chronicle, the Napa County district lawyer has been busy warding 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 about to return to court docket 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.