June 28, 2022
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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 evening 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 pal 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 a little greater than half a mile and was attempting to cross State Route 29 and make a left. However 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 increased. He’s due again in courtroom on Aug. 3. If legal expenses are filed, he can be arraigned then. (The driving 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 because the crash stated that Mr. Pelosi had had cataract surgical procedure within the days previous the dinner. (Medical 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 College and Nike, was retained. The household additionally consulted with John Keker, considered one of San Francisco’s most distinguished protection attorneys, and Lee Houskeeper, a longtime public relations government for San Francisco political sorts, together with former Mayor Willie Brown.

The newly assembled crew needed to cope with a few unwelcome certainties: The accident would refocus consideration on Mr. Pelosi’s troubled driving file, together with a crash when he was a teenager that left his brother lifeless. It will 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 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.

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.

‘All people in San Francisco Now Has a Napa Place’

The Pelosis have had a weekend house 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 stated. “In the event you go up there, you’ll discover that some folks have locations with caves for the wine and all that form of stuff. That’s not what they’ve. They’ve a place you’ll be able to truly reside in, with out servants. You wouldn’t deliver the Three Tenors to sing.” However the Pelosis do have a winery, from which they promote grapes.

“All people in San Francisco now has a Napa place,” Mr. Brown continued. “All people who can afford it.”

Neighbors are conscious of Ms. Pelosi’s common presence, partly due to the safety element that seems when she is in Napa and could cause site visitors delays. Ms. Pelosi and her husband additionally host a common summer season gathering that’s attended by lots of the Democratic Social gathering’s greatest names.

Ms. Pelosi, additionally 82, normally goes to the Memorial Day weekend dinner that her husband attended simply earlier than his arrest, on the Oakville house of Mr. Mehran, a main 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 response to 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 just lately noticed), and will get espresso at the Model Bakery (the place David Beckham is a common). She might 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 folks 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 crimson brick townhouse.

They make common appearances on the metropolis’s greatest social occasions — amongst them the San Francisco Symphony’s opening gala — and they’ve season tickets to the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers. They’ve been recognized to show their buying excursions on the native Giorgio Armani boutique (the place Ms. Pelosi was noticed two weeks in the past) 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, nicely dressed, with a full head of salt-and-pepper hair. However greater than a dozen folks 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 one of the simplest ways to place it.”

Mr. Pelosi has, nevertheless, 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 expenses, in response to information accounts on the time.)

Within the late Nineteen Seventies Ms. Pelosi grew to become the Northern California chair of the Democratic Social gathering. On her method to a barbecue for a native politician, a automotive that she was in with Mr. Pelosi and a variety 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 Instances 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 after they have been each school college students in Washington, D.C. The 2 had a lot in frequent. They have been liberal Democrats and observant Catholics. And each have been Italian American royalty.

Once 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 grew to become associates with John Paul Getty’s son Gordon and Gordon’s spouse, Ann Getty. The households stay shut. Final November, Ms. Pelosi returned from the U.N. world local weather summit in Glasgow and officiated on 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 operating for workplace. In 1986, Consultant Sala Burton, a Pelosi household pal, 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 remainder is historical past.

Some analysts take into account Ms. Pelosi among the most effective speakers ever to steer the Home, and she 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 web, and she is credited with pushing the Reasonably priced Care Act by way 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 some 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 Fireplace Division arrived moments later.

Neither Mr. Pelosi nor the driving force of the Jeep was injured.

Some associates felt that Mr. Pelosi’s full evening in custody on the Napa County Jail after the accident was extreme. Others have been puzzled why their pal hadn’t pre-empted the entire ordeal by merely taking a automotive service house.

And a few native residents advised that, in an earlier period in Napa, driving after ingesting was met with understanding, relatively than legal 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 house,” stated the society doyenne Diane Wilsey, higher referred to as Dede.

Ms. Wilsey, who’s Mr. Pelosi’s fellow trustee on the San Francisco Conflict 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 all the pieces, however I can’t 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 heading 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 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.

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