The Presidio Trust: Nancy Pelosi’s Earmarks And Boondoggles

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  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

The Presidio Trust and the Presidio Partners are inextricably linked to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. These are little-known facts but important ones to the American taxpayer. In September, Pelosi "procured $200 million to improve a park near her home as part of a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill currently being debated on Capitol Hill," according to

Presidio Park

The Presidio Trust is one of the projects Pelosi and Presidio Partners are involved in. The Trust is a "wholly-owned government corporation" established in 1996 pursuant to the Presidio Trust Act. The Presidio park is a former home to a U.S. Army Military fort. The original intent of the Trust was to be self-sufficient and not rely on taxpayer funds. By 2013, the park was required to be independent of taxpayer funding. Taxpayers should not be footing any bills for the Presidio Trust at this point in time.

However, the Western Energy Alliance reports that "despite the park's claim that it doesn't rely on taxpayer funds, earlier this year it received $8 million in Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) funding. The funds were allocated from the Interior Department's federal oil and natural gas royalties."

According to OAN, some Republicans were up in arms about House Speaker Pelosi's Presidio funding earmark.

"It wasn't 3.5 they voted for. It was nearly $5 trillion they just voted for this week. There is no longer a centrist Democrat. There is no longer a moderate Democrat. Every single Democrat voted for this," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) explained. 

This process is known as earmarking, and Pelosi was recently called out by some on the right for slipping a $200 million earmark into the package for the historic Presidio Park in San Francisco. Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman (Ark.), ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, argued this was an example of Pelosi jamming her wish list items through the reconciliation process, even if it meant future generations would be burdened with further mountains of debt.

Pelosi's involvement with the development of the Presidio real estate is storied and long. There was great debate over how the land would be used once the land was decommissioned. Reporting by explains:

"What would ultimately be done with the land, however, remained an open question. Some Bay Area activists wanted to convert some of the Presidio's barracks and other buildings into affordable housing units. Many environmentalists were wholly agreeable to this, so long as no new structures were built on the land. Developers, by contrast, saw this as a waste of potentially prime real estate (worth some $4 billion) and warned that turning it into low-income housing might depress property values in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Siding with the developers, Pelosi wrote legislation that allowed the Presidio to be privatized and converted into a real estate complex. Notably, the Pelosis owned several real estate investments near the Presidio, meaning that they stood to profit handsomely from any new development.

The story had a particularly happy outcome for the Pelosis, who in 1997—soon after the opening of the aforementioned Thoreau Center—sold one of their nearby commercial buildings for several million dollars."

The Presidio Tenant Directory describes "a community where 3,000 people live and where nearly 200 innovative organizations are located." 

The directory is as varied as it is interesting. It houses private office spaces, public retail, entertainment and museum spaces, dining and hotel facilities, spas, and wellness centers. Specific entities include a variety of funds, investment firms, a YMCA, doctors, green energy companies, The Walt Disney Family Museum, and even the World Economic Forum enjoy participation in the community there.

The following screenshots show a sampling of the variety of tenants there:

[gallery type="slideshow" size="full" td_select_gallery_slide="slide" ids="31888,31889,31890,31891"]

The Presidio also became home to a $250 million office campus owned by filmmaker George Lucas in 1999. According to The San Francisco Bay Guardian, his vision was to make it "a model workplace and center for cutting-edge entertainment technology that comes with a commitment to providing public access to pleasant, well-maintained parkland."

Lucas benefited immensely from the legislative deal that Pelosi made to privatize the land. This deal became corporate welfare benefitting Lucas and not the taxpayers. He leased the land rather than purchasing it and saved himself a bundle of money, "nearly $200 million by not having to purchase the land outright." Lucas leased 15 acres of the Presidio from the Trust for 60 years, with options for three 10-year extensions.

The Bay Guardian reported:

'It's a huge corporate welfare package,' Joel Ventresca of the Preserve the Presidio Campaign told the Bay Guardian. 'Any huge project like this is going to require city services, and [Lucas] is not paying nearly as much as it's going to cost the city. The taxpayers will be subsidizing his project.'

Under the legislation that established the Presidio National Park, Lucas will pay no local taxes, no property tax, no real estate transfer tax, no school taxes, no affordable housing fees, and no fees for transit, open space, or public art.

That would seem to contradict the general management plan for the Presidio, which clearly states that providing services to the Presidio 'should not result in any net fiscal deficits or benefits to the City'."

Lucas leased 15 acres of the Presidio from the Trust for 60 years, with options for three 10-year extensions. By leasing the property, he has saved himself millions of dollars. Per the Bay Guardian:

Several commercial real estate brokers have told us that the land would sell for at least $300 per square foot—meaning that the 15 acres would cost a minimum of $196 million.

The graphic below shows the numbers behind the deal:

Lucas/Presidio Trust

Most importantly, per the Bay Guardian article, none of the money from the Lucas development goes to San Francisco. Lucas is paying rent to the Presidio Trust, not the taxpayer.

So thanks to Nancy Pelosi's legislation, San Francisco is losing $61.6 million—money that could be used to fix Muni, to build affordable housing, to improve public spaces in the city. Instead, city services will bear the burden of this huge project—without recouping any money from its billionaire developer.

The Presidio Institute is an initiative of the Presidio Trust. The Presidio Institute operates "leadership development programs." It has partnered with the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) "for the purpose of creating leadership development opportunities that encourage cross-sector collaborations and innovative problem solving for federal workers," according to press release.

Pelosi also procured $60 million for Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in 2018—another real estate investment with which she is associated. The $60.4 million for Hunters Point retesting, and cleanup was in the FY2019 Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs omnibus spending bill.

According to the page, Pelosi and the Dems proudly secured a "$120 million increase over the President's Budget request for cleanup of closed military installations. $60 million is specifically set aside for environmental remediation of former Navy bases, and the rescanning and retesting needs at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard will likely receive all of these funds. The $60 million is on top of the $24 million in the President's budget."

Public corruption watchdog, reported Presidio Partners was set up shortly after the Nixon Administration's first closure of federal military bases around the U.S. The Presidio was part of a plan at the time to decommission federal properties and military bases, turning them into National Parks. AmicusVeritas writes about Pelosi's involvement in the Presidio and the Hunter's Point Naval Base real estate:

"Among the choicest real estate properties were (a) San Francisco's Presidio Fort, then the headquarters for the sixth U.S. Army (b) Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island, the U.S. Navy's parcels in San Francisco Bay (c) The Hunter's Point Naval Base, the biggest U.S. navy base between Seattle Washington Long Beach & San Diego California. (d) The Alameda Naval Air Station in Oakland, California—that was closed nearly twenty years later. 

Presidio Partners was set up to "take advantage of the land-use opportunities offered by the closure of the Presidio." A 2006 report by the Canada Free Press stated:

"The Federal Government's 1988 Base Realignment and Closures act (BRaC)was to look after the little people first. All closed military bases would be privately developed for the benefit of neighboring support communities. At the end of the day, no one would be displaced or adversely impacted by the closings."

Pelosi became an investor in the Presidio real estate, and the project became something else altogether. Fog City Journal writes:

"The Presidio Trust, a group of well-connected citizens, was charged with stewardship of the new national park. The Trust made a big show of gathering public input, which it then ignored in favor of building the absurdly gargantuan Letterman Digital Arts Center.

The $100-million Digital arts Center celebrated its official opening on June 26, 2005, with a smiling Pelosi, Senator Barbara Boxer, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in attendance.

Then came Pelosi's role in the 500-acre Hunters Point Shipyard."

According to her page, Pelosi led the way to the preservation of the Presidio, touting her achievements "for San Francisco." Her page states:

"After years of work, in 1996, Congresswoman Pelosi passed a law creating the Presidio Trust, an innovative public-private partnership with the twin goals of preserving the essence of a magnificent national park and providing a cost-effective structure for the American taxpayer.

Over the course of the transition from DoD and Park Service to the Presidio Trust, Pelosi secured nearly $400 million in federal funding for the transition and environmental remediation. Under the Presidio Trust Act, Pelosi secured $326 million in federal funds directly to the Presidio Trust."

Pelosi later secured another massive sum of money totaling "$30 million for Treasury Department loans for the Presidio, giving the Trust the capital it needs to continue rehabilitation of all the remaining historical buildings and, and is currently fighting to secure additional federal funding to tackle deferred maintenance needs."

In 2007, the Presidio Trust also received "a $15 million gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund to continue the transformation of the Presidio into a great national park for all."

In 2014 Pelosi celebrated the re-opening of the Presidio Officers' Club. The building is one of San Francisco's most historic landmarks, "the social center of the Presidio for ov er 100 years." According to the page that announced the re-opening, the 36,895 square foot building was "transformed into the next great cultural destination in San Francisco," according to the page that announced the re-opening.

"The re-opening of the Officers' Club is the first of many new initiatives the Trust is rolling out in the next few years, including new restaurants, a third inn, and a rich schedule of free programming. The Presidio Trust opened its first overnight accommodations, Inn at the Presidio, in 2012 and in May 2014 opened its first full-service restaurant, the Commissary, with Chef Des Jardins. It hosts popular events and programs, including Presidio Picnics with Off the Grid every Thursday evening and Sunday."

The Tides Foundation and Center

Tides Converge is also in the Presidio and is "a collaborative workspace operated by Tides since 1996 in the historic Letterman Hospital, features two galleries open to the public." Tides converge houses the "China Brotsky Gallery, named for a key leader in the national shared spaces movement." Brotsky is Vice President, Special Projects at Tides Network.

Pelosi also has connections with the left-leaning Tides Foundation and Center—also located in the Presidio. The Black Lives Matter Movement is a major project of the Tides Center.

According to Canada Free Press:

"The December 2003 Pittsburgh Tribune reports details of the relationship between the Tides Center and Pelosi, who received a $5,000 donation contribution from the center and deposited it into an account for a political action committee she formed in 2002 called Team Majority to fund candidates running for office. Pelosi was fined $21,000 by the FEC for accepting donations over federal limits and paid the fine in October of 2003."

Trevor Loudoun writes:

The Tides Foundation and the Tides Center are the radical left's best-kept secret. Together they provide tens of millions of dollars annually to some of the most extreme, destructive charities in America. Their money has gone to an assortment of questionable groups, including ACORN, Media Matters for America, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The Tides Center also allegedly has ties with mega-donor George Soros.

Hunters Point Shipyard Project

Notably, the Hunters Point Shipyard project was the subject of a comprehensive 2009 expose written by Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D. in April 2009, which documents the corruption. Sumchai writes:

"The Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment measures have been called the most corrupt legislative initiatives to pass successfully through San Francisco City government."

Sumchai chronicles the twists and turns of the "legal, ethical and regulatory oversight violations involving the transfer and development of Parcel A of the Hunters Point Shipyard," all accomplished through the involvement of multiple politicians—Pelosi being top of the list with her penchant for nepotism. Her nephew, Laurence Pelosi, was at the center of most of it. Laurence Pelosi is the son of Ronald Pelosi and Belinda Barbara Newsom. He is Nancy Pelosi's nephew by marriage.

In addition, Nancy's son Paul Pelosi Jr. was appointed to the Commission on the Environment by former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown in 2003, according to reporting by the San Francisco Examiner. He served as the Commission's president from July 2006 to January 2010.

The project's corrupt roots are "substantiated by both the stature and sheer numbers of elected and appointed City officials, contractors and employees incriminated in readily documented civil, criminal and environmental regulatory violations and ethical conflicts of interest."

Political families with the surnames Pelosi, Newsom, Feinstein, Boxer and Brown were all involved in one way or another, benefitting financially and politically from the deal, which was ultimately an environmental disaster.

Pelosi's Wealth

The question here is whether Pelosi has effectively lined her pockets with taxpayer money in the deals she has fostered to sell real estate and lease property to the tenants of the Presidio Trust.

At a minimum, politicians are, by law, required to disclose their earnings when making deals. It is exceedingly difficult to find information on Pelosi's investment endeavors. There are laws that require disclosure of donors and that restrict the amount of monetary contributions. Public agencies are also required to engage in fair bidding practices.

As of 2021, Pelosi's net worth is estimated to be roughly $120 million. She was elected to Congress in 1987 and is the only woman in history to serve as Speaker.

According to an investigation by Jesse Watters of Fox News in 2018:

"The Pelosis own several pieces of real estate including a mansion in Napa Valley valued up to $25 million, a D.C. waterfront condo worth over $2 million, and a red brick mansion in California's Pacific Heights. 

Her husband owns commercial properties in San Francisco [with a] combined worth up to $50 million."

In 2018, the Pelosis' wealth [has] skyrocketed, he said. That year, her financial disclosure report revealed a net worth of over $114 million. In 2019, Pelosi's assets total up to a whopping $271 million and in 2020, those numbers went up even more to as high as $315 million.

Watters also saw some tricky trading involving the Pelosis in 2018.

In March, Paul Pelosi exercised $2 million worth of Microsoft options, just two weeks before the tech giant got a $22 billion contract to equip the U.S. Army with high tech headsets, he said.

The Pelosis have never been indicted for insider trading, but her marriage investments and access, combined with extremely fortunate timing, have created a lot of suspicions. All we're doing is following the money, and there sure is a lot of it, Watters concluded.


UncoverDC will continue to investigate and report on this developing story.

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