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. Tyler

    Newt Gingrich is just another flavor of the month – white coconut perhaps. Mitt Romney has been consistent while almost all of the other candidates have caught lightning in a bottle at some point during this campaign. Romney will be Obama's competition in 2012.

    November 16, 2011 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    "Asked if his campaign would make the figure public, Gingrich replied, "To the degree we can, sure."

    To the "degree"? Is that like being "a little bit" pregnant?

    Either you disclose it to the public or you don't.

    November 16, 2011 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  3. John

    Newt says he wasn't a lobbyist but a historian for Freddie Mac. He got paid almost 2 million dollars. He wanted Barney Frank and Chris Dodd to go to jail for their involvement. Now we find out he is the biggest lobbyist of them all. He is one of the most dishonest politician of all time and one of the biggest hypocrites. He is one disgusting individual......

    November 16, 2011 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  4. t1970

    Please if your going do defend newt, join Jerry Sanduskys defense team. Both are futile attempts at convincing the american public that a criminal is innocent. Consider what will happen if you win. One will molest boys, the other will molest the country take your pick which do you want?

    November 16, 2011 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  5. marinedad05

    Walks like a duck, quacks.... it is a duck.

    He did LOBBY, and yeah he was a 'historian', or some 'strategic adviser', but they wouldn't have given him 2 Million $$ just for heck of it.

    People like him are solely responsible for the housing fiasco, and the state of the economy today.

    This is one of the most arrogant, bombastic fools one comes across.

    What exactly do Conservatives see in this guy and how come they even believe his stories?

    November 16, 2011 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  6. Elena

    Republican can be very happy now. They have a line up of liars, hypocrites, and thieves, as someone earlier put it well. Newt is liar, hypocrite and thief. He called for someone else to return Fanny Mae's money, but didn't even mention his, a couple years ago. It is a matter of semantics, he flips his words around. He lobbied, he just won't call it that. I hope he runs the whole way, because he will show his ass, over and over again. I am from Georgia and I noticed he was a crook back then. I will never vote for him, but it will be comical. Lastly, Callista would make such a wonderful 1st lady, with her jewelery worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Nice to know where our money is going isn't it!

    November 16, 2011 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  7. Sami

    Wake up America. All politicians are the same. They say what we want to hear to get elected-then do what is best for them. Federal funding to banks. Banks giving funding to political campaigns. Its an elite group we are not members of.

    I want change!!!

    November 16, 2011 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  8. Stacey

    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.

    LOL! It would be a double bonanza for liberals if The Grinch wins the nomination! It would be better than Cain winning. Who's afraid of The Grinch with his horrible reputation? Not us liberals. President Obama will answer any question The Grinch throws at him. What will be interesting is if The Grinch is able and/or willing to answer the tough questions! The Grinch thinks we forgot about the fiasco he brought about in his hey day. The Grinch will never become POTUS – you can count on it. Time for me to go stock up on more popcorn. The Andy Worhol Presidential Race continues!

    November 16, 2011 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  9. AFSOC 1st Sgt

    OK, I'm no fan of Newt, but the media beatdown of Rep. candidates who move to/near the top of the polls is pretty interesting. Bachman, Perry, Cain, and now Newt were all pretty much ignored until they looked like a front-runner. Then, let the mud-slinging begin. The only Rep. candidate so far relatively unmarked is Romney, which begs the question. Is the reason he's been pretty much left alone:
    a. He really has no skeletons in the closet? or
    b. The media has decided Romney is going to end up the nominee so they're holding their mud until the general election campaign?

    November 16, 2011 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  10. Roderick

    This flavor of the month didn't even last a week! Come on GOP,get it together. Do the right thing and nominate Dan Quayle!

    November 16, 2011 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  11. Stacey

    All you liberals better hope anybody but Obama gets elected. If not, this country will be destroyed. You need to read for yourselves and not let the liberal news media spit out what they want you to hear. Anybody but Obama. He is the worst president in our history.

    He has a desire to change this country into a European type country. This is not a joke it is Life.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    Yes, it is not a joke that's why I will be voting for President Obama and not one of the clowns (with the exception of Huntsman) who's only goal is to keep rich people rich and make sure the middleclass become poor and the poor just die.

    November 16, 2011 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  12. mendrys

    Hmmm, he has a proven record of doing what's best for Newt Gingrich. In some regard that in of itself isn't a bad thing. He is however disingenuous in the way he goes about things. He blasts Clinton for his moral failures while having an affair himself. His initial campaign staff quit en masse because he was more interested in book signings and vacations than working with his staff. And now...He says that people should go to jail over Freddie Mac and he's been a lobbyist for them, or wait an "historian".

    November 17, 2011 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  13. Lenny Pincus

    If Newton is so smart, why does he do and say such dumb things?

    November 17, 2011 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  14. Mark from Canada

    Historian!! Bwa-hahahahahah, I laugh every time I hear that. More like a re-writer of history. What is wrong with America. Truly you have been overtaken by a crazy media system or something is in the water. The affliction seems to be spreading to Canada as well. I have no idea how on Earth we can survive the real crises we face when we have these GOP clowns raising the microphone on soap opera issues. What is wrong with the republican base? I am always surprised that there are so many people that are out of touch with reality, but then again they do like to pray to a zombie jew and use their telepathic powers to communicate with him for fear of an invisible red devil. I guess what's going on in the GOP line-up doesn't look so crazy in comparison.

    November 17, 2011 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  15. Justin L

    I'm embarrassed for the GOP. This is by far the most laughable group of candidates I can remember. The low Obama approval ratings are a joke. Wait till they pick one of these clowns. Ughhhh It's like a reality tv show..

    November 17, 2011 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  16. SPQR

    Newt Gingrich is Smeagol.

    Make no mistake !!!

    You have been warned.

    November 17, 2011 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  17. m

    Newt, the gas bag will soon implode.

    November 17, 2011 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  18. BCaseyC

    Yep... you can predict it... The Liberal Smear machine finds its latest target. If you start to look like a threat at all... you will be squashed. Nasty politics.

    November 17, 2011 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  19. John Brown

    That's the same Gingrich who let the shutdown of the government during his era. A lot of people suffered because of his strategies to bring down Clinton presidency. Boehner is doing the same thing. Republican controlled congress sacrifice 99% American just to make Obama 1 term President. That's not just bad policy but very ill to American people. I bet even Reagan would not agree. He would say: "don't let my people suffer!!"

    November 17, 2011 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  20. Jake

    On the sidewalk, one Sunday mornin
    Lies a body oozin' life
    Someone's sneakin' round that corner
    Could that someone be Freddie Mack the Knife?

    For Old Newt Gingrich?

    November 17, 2011 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  21. 123x1

    '...Let's face it, all politicians are crooks, and the biggest one of the all is living in the White House right now....'

    In other words, you give the newtser gets a free pass. and your personal standard rests at the bottom of the toilet bowl alongside his....

    November 17, 2011 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  22. papafritz57

    Gingrich wll not get the Republican nomination for the simple reason that most Repulbicans hate him. He is arrogant, talks down to his colleagues and was run out of Congress by his own party, not the Democrats. During his time as Speaker he was so hated that most of the Republicans plotted ways to get rid of him.. He left in a hurry because the guy who owned Hustler magazine was ready to tell everyone that Newt was keeping a young Washington chippie on the side while going after Clinton. He stole money that wasn't his to have and instead of going to jail, he had to pay it back and a fine. He is slime, dirty to the core, he sounds smart to Teabaggers, but indeed he is not that smart. Intelligent people laugh at his audacity when he brags about himself, which is all the time. He uses religion just like he used his ex-wives, to help him get ahead. He is no more Catholic then the moon is, just nasty, mean spirited, egotist whom no one likes. This man will never President of this or any other country. I doubt his own state would even vote him into a local office.

    November 17, 2011 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  23. Paul Ernest Show

    It is not a bad idea to assist many more Americans own their own homes, but it was done poorly, with traces of deception, bad judgment . And any one who played any kind of advisory role, worked with these big banks, while they branded ideas like "adjustable rates" is an accomplice to the great housing debacle and its accompanying financial market meltdown. Newt Gingrich has a lot of questions to answer. By their fruits we shall know them.

    November 17, 2011 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  24. Gemini Girl

    I like what the lady from Salon.com said on TV about Newt: "he has so much baggage, that his baggage has baggage." Another one said, that in the dictionary next to the word "spin," that Newt's picture should be there. Again, I predict that Newt's polls will drop even faster than Perry's or Cain's. Once people find out he made almost 2 MILLION dollars from Fannie Mae because he was LOBBYING his own party to persuade them regarding Fannie Mae's interests, as well as the fact that he was THROWN OUT of being the speaker of the house, the first speaker ever, for ETHICS problems, as well as fined $300,000. And that is just the beginning!

    November 17, 2011 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  25. jdoe

    $1.8 million to be a historian? What a joker. Newt is a goner.

    November 17, 2011 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
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