Is Nancy Pelosi Using Her Daughter to Care for Ailing Sen. Dianne Feinstein to Help Adam Schiff’s Senate Campaign?

Media reports that Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, Nancy Corrine Prowda, has taken on the role of primary caretaker for the ailing Sen. Dianne Feinstein have fueled speculation that Pelosi is trying to keep Feinstein in the Senate to help Adam Schiff’s campaign to succeed her.


Media reports that Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, Nancy Corrine Prowda, has taken on the role of primary caretaker for the ailing Sen. Dianne Feinstein have fueled speculation that Pelosi is trying to keep Feinstein in the Senate to help Adam Schiff’s campaign to succeed her.

  • Feinstein returned to Washington last week after a three-month absence due to what was initially reported as a shingles diagnosis, but her office has recently conceded that Feinstein, 89, suffered more serious complications than they had previously disclosed.
  • Feinstein’s office confirmed that she “suffered from encephalitis, a rare complication of shingles that causes the brain to swell, as well as Ramsay Hunt syndrome, in which the shingles virus impacts the facial nerve, causing facial paralysis and other symptoms.”
  • Feinstein’s obvious decline has long been a concern, sparking reports about her “rapidly deteriorating” memory, that her staff has a system in place to make sure she doesn’t wander off, and her tendency to be confused by reporters’ questions about her own public statements. As she told reporters after her 3-month absence, “I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working. I’ve been here.”
  • Feinstein’s absence held up Democrats’ efforts to confirm federal judges, and sparked calls from members of her own party to resign as she is no longer fit to serve. Other Democrats have defended Feinstein and dismissed those calls as “sexist.”
  • Feinstein has been accompanied by Prowda since her return to the Capitol. Politico quoted “people familiar with the arrangement” who said “it’s only the most visible part of a quiet but critical role the Pelosi family has played in helping to take care of the ailing senator, both in Washington and San Francisco.”
  • But as Politico’s Rachael Bade reported, the arrangement “has also raised uncomfortable questions about whether Nancy Pelosi’s political interests are in conflict with Feinstein’s personal interests. The intrigue surrounds the future of Feinstein’s seat.”
  • Feinstein’s retirement announcement in February kicked off a Democratic free-for-all for her seat, and Pelosi quickly made her preference known.
  • The former Speaker endorsed Rep. Adam Schiff, the former House Intelligence Committee chairman who rocketed to national prominence – and raked in the fundraising dollars – by taking on the role of former President Donald Trump’s chief antagonist in the House and a prominent purveyor of evidence-free allegations of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.
  • However, should Feinstein resign her seat or die before her term ends, Gov. Gavin Newsom has pledged to appoint a black woman to replace her. Conveniently for Newsom – and less so for Pelosi – there is already a black woman running for Feinstein’s seat: Rep. Barbara Lee.
  • A Lee appointment would immediately give her Senate campaign a boost, so Lee opponents have an additional incentive to keep the octogenarian senator in office.
  • As Politico reported, “If DiFi resigns right now, there is an enormous probability that Barbara Lee gets appointed — thus, it makes it harder for Schiff,” one Pelosi family confidant told Playbook, adding that the relationship between Pelosi, her daughter and the senator is “being kept under wraps and very, very closely held.””
  • Pelosi’s communications director told the press that Pelosi and her daughter are longtime friends of Feinstein’s and are just looking out for her best interests. But the political implications of this quiet arrangement are difficult to ignore.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • Vanity Fair reported the Democrats’ “silence around Feinstein’s capacity to serve is now being further complicated by her close ties to Nancy Pelosi, whose eldest daughter has recently been “supporting” the 89-year-old senator, the former speaker’s office acknowledged Thursday.”
  • Gallows humor has overtaken Feinstein’s close associates, according to the New York Times. As Annie Karni and Carl Hulse reported, “People close to her joke privately that perhaps when Ms. Feinstein is dead, she will start to consider resigning.”
  • Politico reported “Feinstein’s condition has prompted awkward public ruminations among lawmakers about their own mortality. “It’s a very hard situation because, let’s face it, when I’m 89 years old I’ll be long dead. Trust me,” [Montana Sen.] Jon Tester said.”



  • National Review’s Noah Rothman pointed to Feinstein, Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and President Joe Biden as examples of “the Democrats’ growing cognitive problem.” Rothman wrote, “A growing number of the Democratic Party’s leading lights are fading before our eyes — a discomfiting spectacle typified by indecipherable rhetorical miscues and discernible cognitive degeneration.”
  • Fox News covered the formal denial from Pelosi’s office dismissing the theory that she is helping Feinstein to boost Schiff. When asked, a spokesman simply replied, “No.” The spokesperson added, “Nancy Corinne and Senator Feinstein have been friends for decades. Nancy Corinne has been supporting her in her shingles’ recovery.”
  • Breitbart highlighted the New York Times report linked above that called Feinstein’s condition “frightening.” Jacob Bliss added, “However, after receiving numerous calls to resign — and her stubbornness not to resign — the senator’s return to Washington showed how fragile she is and the “bleak reality” that she is “far from ready to return to work when she did” as she struggles to “function in a job that demands long days, near-constant engagement on an array of crucial policy issues and high-stakes decision-making.””


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© Dominic Moore, 2023