(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 thought Joe McCarthy is dead ?
I love these guys like Newt Gingrich and Bill O'Reilly who think of themselves as intellectual historians , all they need are the parliamentary wigs !
Please don't write anymore books unless there comic books for prisoners doing life without parol ! !
I'll bet they're still laughing at Freddie and Fanny at how little they paid Gingrich. He should have gotten on the regular payroll. They give out more than that as a Christmas bonus.
Who ever moves up in the polls is going to get attacked. It's Newt's turn, now. Obama's choice is to destroy opponents before the election. It's called the Axelrod method.
No one cares anymore that Newt was busted on ethics violations in 1984? And note, he was giving Fanny advice on how to get more subprime mortgages sold, IOW, he helped with the mortgage meltdown!
When ever you need to "draw a distinction" between "consulting" and lobbying, there was obviously not a distinction before.
People pay me $1,800,000 for advice all the time.
Newt the Toot.
I agree with billy davis "Freddie Mac confirmed to CNN that Gingrich was a consultant and not a lobbyist. Sure, he's a history Professor and former Congressman [that] consulted a Mortgage Company on American History." For upwards of $3 million.
It was only a matter of time before Newt's ugly past was to come out. It has begun. Newt Gingrich is the next flavor of the month and will soon go out off style. It's time the people paid more attention to a candidate who has the record and charisma to be president. I urge everyone to go out and take a look at Jon Huntsman Jr. If we Republicans are set on defeating President Barack Obama, then we need to look at a candidate who will do right for this country while appealing to all Americans, not Republicans and Democrats.
just another "shameless republican swine"..... he's been around for years.... what has he really done for people....other than corporate interests ????
I don't know why anybody would trust Newt Gingrich!
I don't know why people seem so surprised. This is a perfect example of "business as usual" in DC. Newt is not the only scum bag in town, I think there are several hundred of them.
It really doesn't matter which party is represented, they all play the same game. If the American people really knew all the shady deals that go down in DC, deals made to benefit the slime ball politicians and their rich friends, not the American public, things would get really ugly really fast. This just serves as another example of why people are so disgusted with the U.S. government, actually every level of government because these kionds of games go on from the top to the bottom.
I find it strange, everytime someone new soars in the polls, dirt shows up, all except for Mitt.?????
When are we going to accept the fact that our representatives are greedy and corrupt and do something about it.
America’s worst and most dangerous enemy is the GOP. The entire party is in a state of decay that absolutely reeks.
The leadership of today’s GOP is made up of cowards, traitors, morons and slugs!
I wouldn't give Newt a nickle for his "advice" – on any subject.
Someone pulled Newt's finger and out popped a brain fart.
The press can't question Newt. He's above public scrutiny. Just ask him.
He claims to know how Washington works. Why should we expect anything different?
.. 'liberals are scared of this man .."
Thanks for the laugh of the day. This comment just shows how detached from reality conservatives are, how prone to dump anything negative on "liberals" (aka the bogeyman) and how incredibly little they understand about truth.
Yeah, sure, Freddie Mac paid Gingrich to be an historian. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Obama would run Newt over like a Mac truck, flatten him like Willy Coyote in a debate. Newt is full of hot air. Fear him? no we fear the ignorant people who even listen to this has been. You see we remember him when he was slinging mud around before while routing in the mud himself. He is a pig...
He lobbied come on the for the company to pay that much. Oh I bet he will say he didn't spend it or maybe he didn't inhale! !!!!
Newt: A Slimy creature who dwells under rocks............Yup, that's Gingrich.
"I earned nearly $2 million while I advised and talked to GOP lawmakers, but I did not lobby them". Liar, Liar , Pants on Fire!
Well, Republicans, whose next? Are we ever going to get around to Huntsman? Must we go through all the awful candidates first? Your party has one candidate that doesn't stink, Huntsman. Why do you continue to ignore him?