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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at a news conference at the Mission Education Center Elementary School on Sept. 2, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at a news conference at the Mission Education Center Elementary School on Sept. 2, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at a news conference at the Mission Education Center Elementary School on Sept. 2, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP)

Daniel Funke
By Daniel Funke September 4, 2020

Taxpayers did not pay $120,000 for Pelosi’s hair appointment

If Your Time is short

  • Security footage shows House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a San Francisco hair salon on Aug. 31, when it was against city rules for salons to operate.

  • There is no evidence that Pelosi’s hair appointment cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. The speaker did not fly to San Francisco specifically to get her hair done, and she has routinely flown commercial airlines since 2011.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi found herself in a hairy situation this week.

On Sept. 1, Fox News released security footage of Pelosi at a hair salon in San Francisco, her hometown. In the video, the speaker walks across the salon with wet hair and what appears to be a mask around her neck.

After the video aired, Pelosi faced backlash for getting a wash and blow-out amid ongoing coronavirus restrictions in San Francisco. Pelosi said the stylist at eSalon, where she has gone several times, told her she could visit on Aug. 31 within local guidelines — but the city prohibited non-essential businesses like salons from operating at the time.

There are conflicting reports as to whether the owner of the salon OK’ed the appointment, but she called it a "slap in the face" for Pelosi to get her hair done while others couldn’t. Pelosi said it was a politically motivated "setup" and called for the salon to apologize. President Donald Trump weighed in on Twitter.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

The incident inspired a slew of stories on Facebook about Pelosi’s hair, but one widely shared post didn’t take issue with the speaker breaking San Francisco’s coronavirus rules. Instead, it criticized the purported cost of her travel to the salon.

"It cost taxpayers $120,000 to fly Nancy to get her hair done," the Sept. 1 post says. "Plus ground travel and protection. That’s what should be in the news."

This post, shared thousands of times, 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.) 

Featured Fact-check

We reached out to the original poster for evidence, but we haven’t heard back.

Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, told us it "cost nothing" for the speaker to go to her hair appointment.

"She didn’t fly to get her hair done. She was already there," Hammill said. "It was not a trip for the sole purpose of the hair appointment."

The Facebook post plays into a long-debunked claim that Pelosi flies to and from her home in San Francisco at great expense to taxpayers.

During her first stint as speaker, Pelosi did have access to a 12-seat Gulfstream V due to security precautions put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But she has routinely flown on commercial airlines since 2011 and has been spotted in coach. In 2010, we also debunked claims of Pelosi raking up a $100,000 bar tab on her plane rides.

Each member of Congress receives a budget called the Members’ Representational Allowance, which covers "official office expenses" including "travel between a member’s district or state and Washington, D.C." Members who live in districts far from Washington, such as Pelosi, get a little more than members who live closer to the capital.

We could find no evidence that Pelosi’s day at the salon cost taxpayers more than $100,000.

The Facebook post makes an inaccurate claim. We rate it False.

Our Sources

Congressional Research Service, "Congressional Salaries and Allowances: In Brief," April 11, 2018

C-SPAN, "Travel Expenses for Members of Congress," July 25, 2017

Facebook post, Sept. 3, 2020

Factcheck.org, "Nancy Pelosi’s Personal Jet," Dec. 28, 2008

Fox News, "Pelosi used shuttered San Francisco hair salon for blow-out, owner calls it 'slap in the face’"

Fox News, "Video footage shows Pelosi at San Francisco salon appointment," Sept. 1, 2020

Interview with Drew Hammill, deputy chief of staff for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sept. 4, 2020

KABC-TV, "'I take responsibility': Nancy Pelosi believes she was 'set up' by San Francisco hair salon," Sept. 3, 2020

NPR, "Hair On Fire: White House Uses Pelosi Salon Scandal To Undercut Democrats," Sept. 3, 2020

PolitiFact, "No, Nancy Pelosi doesn't demand to fly on a 200-seat Boeing 757 jet with taxpayer money," June 12, 2020

San Francisco Office of the Mayor, "Haircuts, barber services, massages, and nail services are among personal services that can resume operating outdoors," Aug. 28, 2020

SF.gov, "Haircuts and other personal care services allowed outdoors under new health directive," Sept. 1, 2020

SF.gov, "Reopening San Francisco," accessed Sept. 4, 2020

Snopes, "Did Pelosi Visit Hair Salon Closed Due to COVID-19?" Sept. 3, 2020

Tweet from Donald Trump, Sept. 3, 2020

Tweet from Jeff Zeleny, July 22, 2019

Tweet from Kevin Roose, Sept. 2, 2020

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Taxpayers did not pay $120,000 for Pelosi’s hair appointment

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