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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 27, 2020. (AP/Applewhite) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 27, 2020. (AP/Applewhite)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 27, 2020. (AP/Applewhite)

Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy February 29, 2020

Obama’s Energy Department didn’t give $737 million to company employing Nancy Pelosi’s brother

If Your Time is short

  • In 2011, the Energy Department provided a $737 million loan guarantee to Tonopah Solar Energy, a subsidiary of SolarReserve, for a solar project in Nevada.

  • Ronald Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law, was on the board of a subsidiary for Pacific Corporate Group, which had a small investment in SolarReserve.

  • Neither Ronald Pelosi nor Pacific Corporate Group received $737 million.

Facebook users are sharing a year-old YouTube video that revived an old conspiracy alleging corruption between former President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

"Nancy Pelosi’s brother’s company received $737 million from Obama’s Energy Dept.," says the title of the video, which was posted to YouTube on Feb. 16, 2019.

This claim exaggerates what really happened. Pelosi’s brother-in-law, Ronald Pelosi, was on the board of a firm that made a small investment in a solar company, and that solar company received a $737 million loan guarantee for a project. 

Pelosi’s company never received $737 million from Obama’s Energy Department.

The YouTube video splices together photos of Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Ronald Pelosi. It includes more than six minutes of narration lifted word-for-word from an opinion article on Illicit Info, a blog site for conversative and libertarian opinion writers.

The video was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Daily Politics Feed, the YouTube channel responsible for the video, says all of its videos are created by transcribing the text of stories from "alternative news sources." The Illicit Info article is labeled as opinion.

Ronald Pelosi’s connection to a Nevada solar project

In a statement to PolitiFact, a spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi’s office said the claims about Ronald Pelosi have "been repeatedly debunked."

"It was a loan guarantee to a company with a very small investment from a firm Ronald Pelosi joined after the deal in which he had no financial stake or benefit," the spokesperson said, noting that Ronald Pelosi is Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law, not brother, as the video says.

Several fact-checkers and news outlets have set the record straight since the deal was announced in 2011, including FactCheck.org, Snopes, the San Francisco Chronicle and Fortune. Some debunked similar claims again in 2019.

Each of them found that Ronald Pelosi’s connection to SolarReserve, the parent company of the firm that received the loan for a project in Nevada, was blown out of proportion.

According to those reports, the unsubstantiated claims first popped up shortly after the Energy Department announced in September 2011 that it would be providing a $737 loan guarantee to Tonopah Solar Energy, a subsidiary of SolarReserve, for a major solar project.

At the time of the announcement, Ronald Pelosi was an "independent director" on the board of PCG Asset Management, a subsidiary of a private equity firm called Pacific Corporate Group, which had invested in SolarReserve, according to FactCheck.org. Before that, Pelosi had been an executive director with the same subsidiary firm from March 2008 to April 2009.

That’s about the extent of Ronald Pelosi’s connection to the money in question.

The $737 million sent to Tonopah Solar Energy was a loan guarantee, not a blank check, and SolarReserve told FactCheck.org and Snopes that Pacific Corporate Group’s investment was a 2% share. Pelosi also provided FactCheck.org with documentation showing that he took in just $25,000 annually from his role on the board. 

Plus, Ronald Pelosi wasn’t on the board at the time that Pacific Corporate Group made its investment in SolarReserve, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The Chronicle reported that Pelosi didn’t stand to profit from the firm’s stake in SolarReserve, either.

Pacific Corporate Group did not return our emailed requests for comment.

Our ruling

A YouTube video said, "Nancy Pelosi’s brother’s company received $737 million from Obama’s Energy Dept."

The Energy Department didn’t give money to Ronald Pelosi or his company, Pacific Corporate Group. The department’s $737 loan guarantee went to a subsidiary of SolarReserve, a firm in which Pacific Corporate Group had a small investment. 

Also, Ronald Pelosi is Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law.

We rate this statement False.

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Obama’s Energy Department didn’t give $737 million to company employing Nancy Pelosi’s brother

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