(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.
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1 Million – sounds LOW to me – the Prez is a lot MORE clever – he can hold a Campaign Dinner in Hawaii this week for a few hours and make 3Million in one evening – – Newt is lost
Newt's as slimy as a toad, a career criminal, Washington DC has been for sale for too long, they got it comin' now.
Before I posted here, I searched this article and the blog for a key word and surprisingly, no one has said it....NEWT HAS NO INTEGRITY!
Where are the goons who made fun of him when it came out that he's running? Now he's on top! humanity is so fickle and shallow in their politics. Can the class say "cheap"
So Newton's defense is that he took 1.6 million dollars but didn't do much for the money?
It is amazing that Americans allow this kind of people to be alive.
"The GOP heavyweight said he was unsure of how much Gingrich Group was paid by Freddie Mac..." McCain wasn't sure how many houses he had.
OK Newt was not even a politician when they paid him for consulation...........Barney Frank on the other hand where is his accountability.............someone that actually helped them in their criminal life long democrat actions.....
more corrupt than bush, more immoral than clinton,less qualified than obama...he tried to destroy the govt a decade ago..bad news
That's all we need is a lobbist, telling lies, in charge of our government. Wasn't he kicked out of Congress for telling lies? And he was calling Clinton names when he was doing the same thing with his staff member. But oh yes, he is a republican and God has forgiven him for his past transgressions!
The outsiders are the catalyst for change. In came Obama. Look at what is happening in the country. Albeit our republican brother are a bit slow in understanding what's going on. We the people are waking up to this crap that happens in government. Liberals like ourselves and the occupiers have always been enlightened.
Newt and the good ole boys ushered in the lobbyist /consultant/historian. Watch how well this insider spins his connection with Freddie and Fannie. It will make your head spin.
So what? Where is he inconsistent with his story? What laws were broken? At the time he was a private citizen, not an elected official. The media is barking up the wrong tree trying to make a story out of nothing. They need to stay on topic and help the American people understand the different platforms of the GOP contenders. I, for one, am willing to overlook a few skeletons that are over a decade old just to get someone in the WH who's actually qualified for the job.
Hey, it just shows that all politicians are also mere mortals like the rest of us peons out here. It alo shows neither political party holds sway in the moral e.g. bedroom debates once and for all. Everytime a politician tells you what you can do in the privacy in your own home tell them of Newt or Bill or etc. This means for anything in your own home whether recreational drugs, gay marriage or rlationships, or anything.
This career criminal should be cell mates with Bernie
In other words, Newt is say that the "good old boy" network is the only thing that can actually change Washington DC.
Let's see there's a month and a half before the election. So, Newt's flavor of the months status will be up in a month, so what does that leave for the Anti-Romney? Ron Paul, Santorum? This is getting down right scary.
This article is a pathetic distraction from the real story that the White House is stone cold silent on FNMAE and FMAC paying out $12.8 million in bonuses to executives who led both GSEs into a $220 billion bailout.
Smell test – not passing. Country simple.
Giant head, giant paycheck. Makes sense.
He lobbied for the firms that were primarily responsible for the meltdown, he tried to blame the other party for his evils and people are still defending him? Wake up people.
What a lying sleeze this guy is. Go crawl back under your rock you hypocrite. And next month's GOP flavor of the month is .................. What a pathetic bunch. Obama will crush any one of these losers. Obama/Biden
If there is one thing you can say about the Republican/Tparty candidates: when it comes to hypocrisy they are number one.
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust
You have got to appreciate the irony of having someone lobbying for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae become the standard bearer of the same people who blame the housing crisis precisely on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae! Do GOPsters EVER THINK?
A thinker, a philosopher, a man of ideas, a historian, a smart man all have been used to describe Newt. What i am still confused about is that I have looked into the past with absolute objectivity and haven't found one thing Newt has done that has positively affected Americans. His personal life is a train wreck, his professional life has been tested and found wanting. Please enlighten me, tell me five smart things Newt has done. Furthermore, these revelations are only the tip of the iceberg. Newt has many more skeletons in his closet. I live and work in the district that Gingrich served. Other than out of pure hatred for Obama most voters in Marietta, GA would not vote for Newt.