Were U.S. Democratic Lawmakers ‘Partying’ in Puerto Rico During the Government Shutdown?

The outing was reportedly planned in order to highlight the territory's recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria.

Image via Shutterstock

Claim

Democratic Party lawmakers were "partying" at a Puerto Rican retreat scheduled in the middle of the partial federal government shutdown.

Rating

Origin

Amid the partial, U.S. federal government shutdown in January 2019, right-leaning media outlets and President Donald Trump both tried to paint an excursion by Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) members to Puerto Rico as idle “partying” by the lawmakers.

More than 30 Democratic lawmakers went to the island, a U.S. territory, as part of an event organized by the CHC’s political action committee, Bold PAC. Committee Chairman Rep. Tony Cárdenas, based out of California, said of the choice to have the event there that “One of the reasons was to show that going to Puerto Rico means that you’re helping fellow Americans and you’re helping the American economy and in addition to that, the more important side than that is making sure that we came to see for ourselves what is the condition of Puerto Rico. How bad is it? And it’s bad.”

According to the Washington Post, the conference also included “informational sessions” covering the territory’s ongoing recovery from Hurricane Maria in 2017. Various news reports stated that the event had been planned for months prior to the government shutdown, which began on 22 December 2018.

The conclave also coincided with the opening weekend performances of Lin Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton, which kicked off a three-week run raising funds for the Flamboyan Arts Fund, a local charity organization. However, lawmakers attending a performance of the show paid out of pocket for their tickets, which reportedly cost more than $500 each.

Conservative media outlets ran articles critical of the Democratic retreat, with some claiming that the lawmakers were “partying.” A Fox News producer also tweeted a photograph of Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey at a beach:

Similarly, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was also “partying” as part of the group, but she retracted that statement on her own Twitter account:

We contacted both the CHC and Bold PAC seeking comment but did not receive a response prior to publication. The latter group did respond on Twitter to criticism from President Donald Trump, however:

Sources
  • Bernal, Rafael.   “Hispanic Dems Lead Largest-Ever Congressional Delegation to Puerto Rico.”
        The Hill.   14 January 2019.

  • Weigel, David.   “Democratic Delegation’s Trip to Puerto Rico Becomes a Target for Trump.”
        The Washington Post.   14 January 2019.

  • Gamboa, Suzanne.   “Latino House Democrats to Make Show of New Strength in Puerto Rico.”
        NBC News.   9 January 2019.

  • Montoya-Galvez, Camilo and David Bergnaud.   “More Than 30 Members of Congress Will Visit Puerto Rico During Hamilton’s Opening Week.”
        CBS News.   13 January 2019.

  • Bedard, Paul.   “30 Democrats in Puerto Rico with 109 Lobbyists for Weekend Despite Shutdown.”
        Washington Examiner.   11 January 2019.

  • Casiano, Louis.   “Dems Fly to Puerto Rico on Chartered Jet, Meet with Lobbyists, See ‘Hamilton’ as Shutdown Drags On.”
        Fox News.   13 January 2019.

  • Enloe, Chris.   “Dems Party with More Than 100 Lobbyists in Puerto Rico Despite Partial Government Shutdown.”
        The Blaze.   13 January 2019.

Dear Reader,

Snopes.com has long been engaged in the battle against misinformation, an effort we could not sustain without support from our audience. Producing reliable fact-checking and thorough investigative reporting requires significant resources. We pay writers, editors, web developers, and other staff who work tirelessly to provide you with an invaluable service: evidence-based, contextualized analysis of facts. Help us keep Snopes.com strong. Make a direct contribution today. Learn More.

Donate with PayPal