Gingrich faces more questions about Freddie Mac
November 16th, 2011
01:03 PM ET
2 years ago

Gingrich faces more questions about Freddie Mac

(CNN) – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spent a second day trying to campaign in Iowa but fending off questions about his relationship with mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

The former House Speaker has surged to the top of Republican presidential polls over the last month but is now forced to play defense against reports of his relationship with Freddie Mac. Gingrich Group was paid between $1.6 million and $1.8 million to lobby Republicans in Congress on behalf of the government-backed mortgage lender, CNN has confirmed.

Questioned about the reports on Wednesday in Urbandale, Gingrich said that his consulting company was paid by Freddie Mac for "strategic advice over a long period of time."

CNN confirmed Gingrich was paid by Freddie Mac during two periods - from 1999 to 2002 and 2006 to 2008. Bloomberg first reported the amount of payments made to Gingrich on Tuesday.

The GOP heavyweight said he was unsure of how much Gingrich Group was paid by Freddie Mac but that his team has gone back to "check" the amount. Asked if his campaign would make the figure public, Gingrich replied, "To the degree we can, sure."

Freddie Mac confirmed to CNN that Gingrich was a consultant and not a lobbyist.

Gingrich was consulted about Freddie’s efforts to become more transparent about “risk and capital management” procedures, risk information disclosure, and how those efforts would be received in Congress, specifically by Republicans, according to a former official who worked for Freddie Mac during both of his stints.

During his first stint, Freddie Mac wanted to “bond” with Bush administration officials on the idea of creating a “home ownership society” – getting more Latinos and other minorities into home ownership - and worked with Gingrich on that.

In Gingrich’s second stint, Freddie Mac officials tried to get him to write “white papers” on how good the “model” was for government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie because free-market Republicans didn’t like that model, the official said. Freddie Mac officials were frustrated with Gingrich, the source said, because they had a hard time getting him to write anything.

The official and others that CNN talked to disagreed with Gingrich’s characterization of himself as a “historian.”

According to a fact sheet released by Gingrich's campaign Wednesday, "Gingrich made a decision after resigning that he would never be a lobbyist so that nobody would ever question the genuine nature of his advice and perspectives. This prohibition against lobbying was made very clear to all Gingrich Group clients and strict internal protocols were developed to prevent lobbying."

While the candidate said on Wednesday his campaign would do what they could to release more documents about his time at Freddie Mac, his press secretary R.C. Hammond confirmed Wednesday night that the fact sheet was the "last word" from the campaign.

Gingrich's popularity has soared in recent weeks, catapulting the GOP presidential contender into second place in recent national polls. A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday showed Gingrich leapfrogging businessman Herman Cain into second place among GOP candidates.

Gingrich has blamed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for distorting the home loan market and Democrats for having close ties to Freddie Mac.

"If you want to put people in jail… You ought to start with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. And let's look at the politicians who created the environment, the politicians who profited from the environment, and the politicians who put this country in trouble," Gingrich said during the Washington Post/Bloomberg GOP debate on Oct. 11.

"In Barney Frank's case, go back and look at the lobbyists he was close to at Freddie Mac," Gingrich argued.

When asked if the reports would taint him as being a "Washington insider" in an election driven by a decidedly anti-Washington mood, Gingrich objected.

"It reminds people that I know a great deal about Washington and if you want to change Washington, we just tried four years of amateur ignorance and it didn't work very well," he said. "So having somebody who knows Washington might be a really good thing."

Earlier Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Gingrich was hired to gain GOP support on Capitol Hill as the government-backed mortgage company came under fire during the subprime mortgage meltdown.

Asked Tuesday by CNN about the report, Gingrich said, "I did no lobbying of any kind. That's all I've got to say about it."

CNN's Brian Todd, Shannon Travis and Rebecca Stewart contributed to this report.

Also see:

CNN Poll: Americans doubt super committee will meet deadline

GOP deficit debate strategy: Blame Democrats


Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (429 Responses)
  1. Kenneth Close

    Newt is very smart of course and the press is relentless as it should be, but why do always attack in hind sight when what we have is what lays before the citizen's to constitute change....

    November 16, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. abtime

    Newt welcome to the fire. But of course you have been here before.

    November 16, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  3. pc

    such a nasty old man! he is nothing but a bloated has been that no one will ever vote for. we still remember the old days newt, u are a hypocrite!!!!

    November 16, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. abtime

    As a Washington insider, this type scrutiny is to be expected. It is almost an automatic response. The rise in the polls means more people are looking at your record more closely and everything comes under review. We must have someone left standing as a republican candidate otherwise whyhave an election.

    November 16, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. texan

    Wasn`t the Newt found guilty of ethics violations when in office??? And some want him back !!! Where and how did he make money while he was out of office ?? Thought he was a lobbiest !!!!

    November 16, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Stop the Charade

    "Strategic advice", Newt? Is that kinda like you didn't inhale?

    November 16, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. tekstep1

    Nice try Newt. – "If you can do it in a way that is financially sound, every American should be interested in expanding housing opportunities for people whether they're African-American, or Latino or of any background." – They use financial advisers and economic strategy experts to form policy. They need you for political clout. Funny how your contracts predate the economic crisis... Could it be that you help lead us to this mess?

    November 16, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. Toughlove

    I'm not a Newt fan, but liberals are scared of this man...and I would be, too, if I was one of them. He is incredibly smart and would run circles around President Obama in a debate. He will ask questions that the President will not want to answer...and won't let him off the ropes for a second. Liberals should pray that Newt doesn't make it out of the GOP race.

    November 16, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. WhereIsPalin

    Cut him some slack. Who hasn't signed a million dollar contract for strategic advice?

    November 16, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. Orchid333

    Next up, Ron Paul! Give Newt a couple of weeks to sink back down in the polls as people are reminded of how crooked this guy is.

    November 16, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. Larry L

    This is not a test of Newt Gingrich but rather a test of ourselves. If the American people are willing enough to accept the absolute low-road of morality, and demand no positive character traits from their leaders, then we're unable to govern ourselves and deserve the facist government the Republican power-brokers seem to want. Republicans once ran Senator (Major General) Barry Goldwater for President. I didn't totally agree with his politics, but I deeply respected the man – a compassionate conservative. Compare him to the side show you've presented for 2012 – and weep.

    November 16, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  12. List of X

    Dear Freddie Mac, you need to verify credit score for every borrower whose loan you acquire, and make sure these borrowers can meet their financial obligations. That's it for now.
    I will send you an $1.6 million invoice for my extremely valuable strategic advice.

    November 16, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  13. hope

    And...what about Newt's moral values, Wasn't he the man that while his wife was in cancer treatment had an
    affair with current wife. So much for Republican family values.

    November 16, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  14. UMCILA

    Politics are politics. Newt was very successful in Congress and like in capaigning, you take heat for that. He was charged by "the other party" with 40 counts, all but one dismissed as unfounded. The one that he accepted responsibility for was that he spoke for fee at ta school that also accepts federal funding (don't they all). The charge included, "he knew or should have known". Much ado about nothing. But he appologized, paid a fine and was reprimanded by the majority party. He also had two extramarital affairs; both he married after divorce. The second is his current wife of eleven years, Calista. He did participate in the investigation of then President Clinton's "perjury and obstruction" criminal prosecution. He did prosecute Clinton for four affairs (Flowers, Wylie, Jones, Lewinsky) but they ultimately led to evidence that led to Clintons' House Impeachment, and criminal charges. Clinton continued to serve ins spite of being convicted and obvious lies. Gingrich actually, stepped down from his Leadership position and gave up his seat in the House. Americans can see beyond indescretions of the past and are obvioulsy willing to measure a man by the totality of his works. On the other hand, let he who has no sin judge Gingrich. Perhaps he will be our next President. We couldn't do worse than we have now.

    November 16, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. Clwyd

    First Perry, then Cain's brain fart and now Newt's I can't remember! Let's see out of the 8 Stooges running for president as republicans we have 5 remaining to show us how unprepared for office they are! Just a bunch of Loony Tunes!

    November 16, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. mary

    I don't think this guy has any morals at all! Just a very large EGO!!!

    November 16, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. Name Stephanie from Pittsburgh

    Newt caught in another one

    November 16, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    According to a Bloomberg report published late Tuesday, Gingrich was paid between $1.6 and $1.8 million from two contracts with government-backed Freddie Mac, a figure he said he was unsure of, but that his team has gone back to "check."
    ------------------–
    Mr. Gingrich collected some of that elite welfare. Who signed and approved the contracts in the first place? Doesn't Congress have to approve such an expenditure, or can the "trustees" running the agency simply "expense" it?

    November 16, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. WHOOSH

    Old news, old views, part of the establishment that got us in this mess. Go home to your wifstress

    November 16, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  20. huxley

    Gingrich isn't part of the establishment that needs to be kicked out of Washington.

    Gingrich IS the establishment that needs to be kicked out of Washington.

    November 16, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. Cogito

    "I know a great deal about Washington and if you want to change Washington, we just tried four years of amateur ignorance and it didn't work very well."

    This coming from someone who served for over 3 decades in government, yet is trying to portray himself as a Washington "outsider". Apparently he prefers professional ignorance over amateur ignorance.

    BTW Newt, it hasn't been four years, it's been three (2011-2008=3). Next November, when you don't win anything, THEN it will be four. Time for a remedial math class maybe?

    November 16, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  22. DBerry

    If you thought Cain's issues are bad (which they are), just wait to see what comes out now the Newt is moving up in the polls. This guy is as dirty as you get, both personally and politically.
    You will never see anything like this come out on RON PAUL. He is morally and politically clean, consistent, honest, and right! Please vote to Restore America. Vote RON PAUL!

    November 16, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    from the article:
    "I know a great deal about Washington and if you want to change Washington, we just tried four years of amateur ignorance and it didn't work very well."
    -----------------
    Can you imagine the caustic remarks about other world leaders that could come out of Mr. Gingrich's mouth if he were to be elected POTUS? Now, can you imagine the fallout from the diplomatic incident it could cause?

    Let's hope that the ensuing dispute would be limited to diplomatic circles because Mr. Gingrich seems to be quite the war hawk. What if someone decides to take a pre-emptive strike against the U.S. before they could let a hawkish POTUS deliver a crushing military invasion against them?

    November 16, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. a6102658

    Shouldn't be promoting a book right now?

    November 16, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. Save Us Jeebus

    Newt's strategy advice to Freddie Mac must not have been very good, considering the huge mess that organization is in. Gingrich had his chance in the 90's (which I guess was his "amateur" attempt) – he needs to get out of the way already!

    November 16, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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