(CNN) - Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, whose Twitter follower count far exceeds those of any other Republican candidate, denied claims Wednesday that the campaign had inflated its numbers by buying followers through a purchasing service.
"Any accusation of the kind is a lie, a smear and unsubstantiated," R.C. Hammond, spokesperson for Gingrich, said in a statement.
The former House Speaker boasts more than 1.3 million Twitter followers, while none of the remaining GOP White House hopefuls come close to 80,000.
Accusations originated in a Gawker piece Monday that quoted an unnamed former staff member, who claimed 80 percent of Gingrich's followers are inactive or dummy accounts purchased through a "follower agency."
"If you simply scroll through his list of followers you'll see that most of them have odd usernames and no profile photos, which has to do with the fact that they were mass generated," the unnamed source told Gawker. "Pathetic, isn't it?"
The story prompted a number of organizations to conduct investigations of Gingrich followers.
A New York based search analytics company, PeekYou, said their algorithm results showed only eight percent of the candidate's followers were "humans" and claimed his real follower count was closer to 106,000. The firm excludes businesses and brand accounts as "real people."
"At first, we actually thought it might have been a bug on our side, but a quick manual look at the data showed our analysis was true," said Michael Hussey, CEO and founder of PeekYou, on the site's blog.
Gawker also cites research from Indiana University's School of Informatics and Computing, which analyzed a random sample of 5,000 Gingrich followers and found that a third had never posted to Twitter and half had no profile photo.
These numbers were larger than other high-profile political accounts analyzed in the same study. Presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty each had a follower count in which less than 10 percent had zero tweets and less than 17 percent lacked a profile photo.
And of the 9.4 million accounts that follow President Barack Obama, 10 percent had also never tweeted and 18 percent had no profile image, falling roughly in line with the other candidates measured, with the exception of Gingrich.
But the Gingrich campaign maintains that the @newtgingrich account has higher numbers because Twitter added him to its "Suggested User List." The feature recommends certain names as a way to get new Twitter users started in compiling their favorite people on the microblogging site.
Gingrich has long had a strong presence on Twitter. In the 29 months his account has been active, Gingrich has posted more than 2,700 times and was the first presidential candidate ever to announce his candidacy through a tweet.
"Twitter users follow Newt the same way they elect to follow Ashton Kutcher, Shaquille O'Neil or John McCain," said Hammond. "We will now return to our efforts to confront the President about his inability to create jobs for the American economy. Thank you."
- CNN's Jeff Simon contributed to this report.