Fact Check

Was Nancy Pelosi Fined $40K For Destruction of Government Property?

A routine review of content labeled satire.

Published Feb 6, 2020

US Vice President Mike Pence claps as Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi appears to rip a copy of US President Donald Trumps speech after he delivers the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 4, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images) (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Image Via MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
Claim:
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was fined $40,000 for destruction of government property.

On Feb. 5, 2020, Taters Gonna Tate published an article positing that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been fined $40,000 for destruction of government property after she ripped up her copy of President Donald Trump's State of the Union address:

Nancy Pelosi Fined $40K for Destruction of Government Property

Nancy Pelosi went too far when she ripped up the President’s speech. According to federal statute USC Title 26 SS197, all speeches given before Congress are to be preserved by the Speaker of the House and delivered to the National Archives for safekeeping. Pelosi wasn’t just disrespectful — she broke the law.

This item was not a factual recounting of real-life events. The article originated with a website that describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature, as follows:

Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site’s pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you’re still having an issue with that satire thing.

Pelosi truly did rip up her copy of Trump's State of the Union address in February 2020. While some have earnestly claimed that this act broke the law (Rep. Mat Gaetz filed an ethics complaint alleging that Pelosi violated 18 U.S.C. § 2071, Section 2071), a number of legal experts, including Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe and Georgetown Law Professor Jonathan Turley, have refuted this claim.   

Regardless, the claim that Pelosi was fined $40,000 for ripping up this document is false and originated with a satire website. 

For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.

Sources

Garger, Kenneth.   "Nancy Pelosi’s State of the Union Stunt May Have Broken the Law, Rep. Matt Gaetz Says."     New York Post.   6 February 2020.

Taters Gonna Tate.   "Nancy Pelosi Fined $40K for Destruction of Government Property."     5 February 2020.

Kalmbacher, Colin.   "No, Nancy Pelosi Didn’t Break the Law When Destroying Trump’s Speech."     Law and Crime.   5 February 2020.

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