(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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I think it would be more newsworthy to track down those handful of politicians, who HAVEN'T sold their country away to the highest bidder, and write a story about them. Seriously, too many of our "public servants" seek office for private gain.
Let's face it, he is bought, paid for and owned by the 1%. It is time to get business out of politics and their money out of politicians pockets.
Why is it that if a CORPORATE has to pay taxes, it is bad for the consumer and the economy, but the same money paid to a lobbyist is good for the consumer and the economy?
Newt Gingrich is the Kobayashi in the movie The Usual Suspects.
This is just another example of the liberal media bringing out "gotcha" FACTS. Just like that "gotcha" questions to Mr. Cain on Libya. I mean, come on, who in the world can expect a person to know about major international events several months or weeks after the fact.
I assume that you are saying that in jest or sarcastically ..........
Watch the GOP continue to throw whatever they can get on the wall and hope something sticks......probably not.
newt is an adulterer, liar and a cheat. anybody that is behind him is crazy!!!!! think bush and lies,
Lets move on–They all have done it, are doing it or plan on doing it–Being a paid consultant or lobbyist is part of the game–If Gingrich can negotiate a $1Billion pay day I could care less and more power to him–Just as long as he pays his Taxes–Truth be known he probably is more of a politician than any one of the other candidates. He dang sure knows how the system works and is somewhat like one of our former presidents from Texas. Just not as feared–
All of the republican candidates are so weak, silly, ignorant or arrogant; I will vote for President Obama., the best choice.
This does not amaze me. I wonder how many other men/women who were voted in by the citizens of the USA had the opportunity to work for big companies while they held elected offices. Is this how the majority of politicians become rich. How do they find the time to do this when they are suppose to be taking care of the people who put them in office to represent them not the companies the work for on the sly. I have no respect for politicians.
CONSULTANT = LOBBYIST in Washington.
One of the classis republican strategies of Karl Rove is to attack the other side on what you yourself can be found guilty of. It's a preemptive attack.
Newt's premitive attach on Freddie Mac was to deflect later criticism that he is indeed a hypocrit.
Gingrich has been laying low since he got kicked out of congress, precissely hiding h
is shady operacions. But now ths the republican field has gone in the crapper, he felt it was his chance and nobody was looking.
Newt is unlikable. Game over. And to all the people on here essentially "excusing" Newt's behavior by bringing up Bill Clinton- he was president over a decade ago and left office with a 60% plus approval rating. Get over it.
I don't know what is more shameful: Newt's lies or the fact that so many continue to buy them without question.
$2 million to just give some historical info and strategic advice? So either Freddie Mac is so bad with its money that it amazing they have any left, or Newt was expected to deliver a lot more than advice.
Newt Gingrich is a person without morals, character or the ability to tell the truth!! The sad part of it really is that he is an intelligent man who possibly could have been a viable candidate for president if he weren't so depicably rotten! His knowledge and manner are that of a man who is confident.....too bad that it is all aimed at the wrong conclusion.He, like so many Repubs does not care about what happens to the people or the country as long as he gets what HE wants for HIMSELF. What a waste ....and it WILL NOT change!!!!!
“Fannie and Freddie, as you know, have been the epicenter of the financial meltdown in this country. And whether former Speaker Gingrich made $300,000 or whether he made $2 million, the point is that he took money to influence senior Republicans to be favorable toward Fannie and Freddie.” – Michelle Bachmann
So much hate from the liberals here. I doubt any would think any job he had would have been legal or ethical. Democrats have had numerous positions similar to this for other companies, but for some reason that doesn't matter? It's the same old double standard that I've been seeing from Democrats over the past few years. Such hypocrites.
►TRENDING: Gingrich faces more questions about Freddie Mac
ginGRINCH’s on the attack, Attack, ATTACK
About Freddie Mac, MAc, MAC
With all of his millions, Millions, MILLIONS
Going down his back, Back, BACK
He lies from the top, Top, TOP
And when confronted flip-flop, Flops, FLOPS
And he’ll continue to lie, Lie, LIE
Until the 4th of July – ‘ly, ‘ly!!!
How can anyone seriously consider this hypocrite, adulterer, and ethics violator as a candidate for president?
Newt is such a hypocrite without shame. This guy has no chance at office. In fact, he should be tared and feathered. Anyone who see virtue in this man should check his history and if they still feel he is a good man they should do some soul searching. This is my favorite part of the article.
What a shameless hypocrite, he lobbied for them and thought he could could point fingers after receiving nearly 2 mill from them.
This guy has been around for too long. He owes too many favors and is owed some as well. He's a bitter old man who just can't think outside the box. A lousy president for sure.
Gingrich is a career politician–with too many friends in all the wrong places–he is the poster child for what most Americans hate about our government–no matter what your party affiliation-why doesn't the GOP understand the peoples rejection of the Washington insiders–the slick hucksters-the polished multimillionaire sweet talkers-we don't TRUST them to change anything–and now is the TIME FOR REAL CHANGE!
Has anyone forgotten the ethics violations this guy had and the reason he is out of Congress. One of the most dirtiest politicians in our History and he's running for President. WHat joke.