Pelosi Repossesses Office From Gephardt

Posted January 9, 2004 at 3:28pm

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has reclaimed the coveted Capitol office she awarded her predecessor, Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt, a year ago.

Pelosi helped Gephardt, the presidential aspirant who served as Democratic leader from 1989 to 2002, secure an office on the Capitol’s first floor last January despite the fact that space in the building is in short supply because of the construction of the Capitol Visitor Center.

Pelosi, however, resumed control of the office last week because Gephardt — on the presidential campaign trail full time as the Iowa caucuses approach — wasn’t taking advantage of it. The room, H-120, has since been transformed into an additional press office for the Minority Leader.

“Space is at a premium in the Capitol,” said Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly. “Since it was not being used we thought it made sense to put some of our press folks in there. It makes sense for them because they are now right across the hall from the main press office.”

Daly said Pelosi’s office had used the room, which now houses about four staffers, several times late last year and realized Gephardt no longer needed it.

“It was generous of the Democratic leaders to make the room available, but Mr. Gephardt didn’t need it,” Erik Smith, a spokesman for Gephardt, said.

Landing space in the Capitol was one of several perks Gephardt enjoyed as the former Democratic leader. Earlier last year, Pelosi also helped cover payroll for the Missouri lawmaker’s senior staff for a few months while his presidential campaign got under way.

Pelosi is no longer funneling any of her dedicated leadership funds to help Gephardt. Daly said once Gephardt’s campaign got going early last year, the money went back to Pelosi’s office to pay for her own staff.

“We were helping with the transition,” Daly said. “Now she’s established as the leader and he’s full time on the campaign. It’s no longer necessary.”

Pelosi, along with Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and 32 other House Democrats have formally thrown their support behind the veteran Missouri lawmaker’s presidential bid.

Gephardt courted Pelosi for some months to get her backing. She has since hosted fundraisers, and she traveled to Iowa on Friday to drum up support for Gephardt. Hoyer will travel to the Hawkeye State for Gephardt this week.