Concord, New Hampshire (CNN) – Newt Gingrich's campaign vehemently denied any wrongdoing following an ABC News report Tuesday that questions business practices between two of his organizations, one a for-profit business and the other a charity.
"Despite all the innuendo in the ABC story, their team of journalists did not find any activity that was not fully supported by the law," the GOP presidential candidate's Communications Director Joe DeSantis wrote in a statement.
The ABC News report said Gingrich's charity, Renewing American Leadership (ReAL) paid $220,000 over two years to Gingrich Communications, one of the candidate's for-profit businesses.
The story also said that the charity "also served as another avenue to promote Gingrich's political views, and came dangerously close, some experts say, to crossing a bright line that is supposed to separate tax-exempt charitable work from both the political process and such profit-making enterprises as books and DVDs."
Blasting back that ABC News put out "baseless insinuations," the Gingrich campaign's DeSantis added that "both ReAL and Gingrich Communications took great care to make sure all resources were being used legally and ethically. Most of the payments from ReAL to Gingrich Communications were to compensate the time of ReAL's part time executive director, who was an employee of Gingrich Communications. This is perfectly normal and common practice."
"The rest was to purchase books, which ReAL used for their fundraising efforts," the statement continued. "The book purchases were made 'at cost' meaning there was zero profit made by Gingrich Communications or Newt on the sale."
The strong statement of denial follows a testy exchange caught on video earlier Tuesday in which Gingrich dodged – then verbally dressed down – a reporter after being repeatedly pressed about the business practices.
"Can you just answer the question as to why the charity you founded gave $200,000 to your for profit company?" pressed investigative producer Angela M. Hill of ABC News.
"No," Gingrich responded at one point, turning away from the producer. The Republican presidential candidate then said, "Give me one second," and privately huddled with press secretary R.C. Hammond.
After the sidebar, Gingrich again avoided the producer and her question, walking to the front of a room gathered to hear his breakfast speech at the Kimball Jenkins School of Art in Concord, New Hampshire. Gingrich was there to discuss the future of small business.
"We'll be happy to answer," Hammond told Hill after huddling with his boss. "He doesn't know what you're talking about," he said seconds later.
After the speech, as Gingrich exited, he was pressed once again on the singular question.
"Cover the speech," he told the producer. "I'm not concerned about that. The American people aren't concerned about that," Gingrich added before getting into his SUV and slamming the door.
The ABC News report says the payments were discovered after an audit, last month, sponsored by the office of West Virginia's secretary of state.
While saying that many of its questions to the Gingrich campaign have yet to be answered, ABC News did quote former Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler, who responded to the claims before quitting Gingrich's campaign with others.
Tyler "told ABC News in a series of email exchanges prior to his resignation that the charity spent no money on political activity and 'did nothing to promote anyone's political career,'" the report states.
Updated 4:10 p.m.