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Pelosi Didn't Sign Articles Using 15,000 Pens

Editorial Team Editorial Team
26th May 2020
Pelosi Didn't Sign Articles Using 15,000 Pens
the earliest mention of this rumor is on social media (Getty Images)

The Claim

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi used $15,000 worth of pens to sign the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Emerging story

Twitter users, including Paul Hicks, have made this claim.

Misbar’s Analysis

According to Misbar's research, the earliest mention of this rumor is on social media: specifically, on Facebook and Twitter. At approximately 5pm UTC on January 17th, two days after the impeachment articles were signed, Facebook users began to post that Pelosi had used “$15,000.00 worth of bullet pens,” or even that the pens were “$15,000.00 each.” In about an hour, Twitter had picked up the story and it was retweeted several times.

This accusation has some weight in light of the fact that the President himself signs documents with a personalized Sharpie pen, the generic versions of which cost less than $2 each but of which his autographed version may cost somewhat more. The posters claim, “that’s the difference between a business man and a worthless professional politician.”

However, while Trump’s Sharpies are well documented, there does not appear to be any definitive proof one way or another whether the claims about the cost of Pelosi’s pens are true. The Facebook and Twitter users did not submit any references, first of all. Secondly, Snopes and Politifact have both reported that Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s chief of staff, has told them in private conversation that the pens cost just $15 each. However, neither of these sources provide any evidence of this conversation taking place either, nor do they provide any definitive proof that if it did, Hammill was telling the truth. After all, Pelosi and her staff would have incentive to lie in this situation, so in the absence of hard evidence no conclusions can be drawn.

Interestingly, the House of Representatives releases a Statement of Disbursements every quarter in which the chief administrative officer details all receipts and expenses of the members thereof. Unfortunately, however, the most recent report is only from July-September 2019, and while it tantalizingly reports that the Speaker’s office spent $29,000 on office supplies during that time, it does not have specific line items for pens.

In conclusion, while we might be tempted to say that the claim of Pelosi’s $15,000 pens lacks all evidence either way and is therefore “False,” technically it would seem that our criteria for proclaiming something as “False” requires that “elements of a claim are demonstrably false” and there has been no demonstrable evidence in this case either way. Rather, this claim seems to meet the definition of “Misleading” In addition, I would give the focus on this topic itself (and specifically the fact-checkers’ focus on this topic) a “Misleading” because it detracts from the bigger story itself that is much more relevant and worth telling.

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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