(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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How else do you think he could afford the Tiffany's credit account? This is a guy who is going to reform government as we know it? Get real.
well done, nice hit piece. You hit all the DNC talking points and glossed over any actual facts. Your check from George Soros will be in the mail soon.
"Surged to the top?" Second place is not the "top." It is second place. It is NEAR the top, but NOT THE TOP. Do we need to go to the chalkboard on this? Newt is NOT in first place, and the thin air of second place is about as high as he'll get.
He does not appear to have done anything that all of the most powerful people on "the Hill" do. Does not make it right, just normal. The whole system needs a reset button and everyone should be fired on the hill and start over but that ain't gonna happen so don't skewer one guy for doing what they all do. He is not the first or last Hill Dweller to juke the system. What the heck would the Dems do without what appears to be a liberal media fighting the election for them? I keep hearing these voices but nothing from any candidates. Why is that? And no, while I consider myself conservative, I am not a Republican. Both sides are offensive.
If there is a slimeball of the highest level, it is Newt Gingrich. The man has no principles and is rotten to the core. Gingrich has always put his own interests ahead of anything. I am amazed that his supporters cannot even see the man for what he is.
Money trumps principles and values.........typical!
newt is finished. he is as corrupt as can be. newt, cain, bachmann, perry are done. now we get to the real candidates. lets move on
Maybe we will see PROFESSIONAL ARROGANCE instead of "ameteur ignorance" from this guy.
Oh so this is why the Republicans continue to point to the Democrats on Freddy/Fannie – it was a distraction so we wouldn't look at Newt's lobbying involvement (we already knew though), So it's true – whatever the GOP is accusing their opponent of doing – they themselves are doing.
Absolutely nothing wrong with what Newt did. He bid on a competitive contract as a businessman, not as a republican/politician. He told them to get as far out of the sub prime market as they could. Clearly they did not take his advice and they paid for it. Very typical of the left to jump down someone's throat for making money in a way that they do not perfectly agree with.
"Anyone who wouldn't take $1mill to consult for a semi govt. organization is nuts."
Except that he also stated that anyone who takes money form Fannie and Freddie to influence position should be jailed. They were clearly buying him to gain access to Republican leadership - not for his historical research. Indeed, there is little evidence that he did any significant consulting in exchange for these payments.
What a slime ball. The evangelicals latest flavor of the day. Pro war, pro torture, pro jesus and would yah believe it, pro life. That's how you get the vote of the Religious Right. John Huntsman and Ron Paul refuse to pander to this constituency.
"In Barney Frank's case, go back and look at the lobbyists he was close to at Freddie Mac," So CNN....why don't you??? Forget Newt. Give us the FACTS about FREDDIE!!!!! Why don't you actually do some in-depth reporting? Isn't that why you all go to journalism school....to bring the FACTS to the people??? If we can't trust you, who can we trust?
Dude is bought and paid for by big business. He's an old political insider who has lost touch with the common man.
$300,000 fines for unethical transactions. 1.6 Milliion for lobbying without lobbying. Gingrich the "historian" who can't / won't remember his past (money, lobbying, divorces, payments). He sure is learning from Herman Cain about "damage control": this will be the last, we have nothing to say... That worked really well for Herman, didn't it?
The TeaPartiers will surely love mr Newt Grinch, all his money, his deals with corporations, his 'fine' pseudo-academic polish. Just the kind of candidate they hoped for. If they think Romney is too slick, what will they think of slimey Newt?
Enjoy the ride.
"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,"
Fact is, most Republicans hate just about everybody these days ... and will vote for like minded souls eager to continue this new brand of Republican hate thy neighbor on a daily basis. Just look at the freshman 2010 Congress GOPers voted for back in November 2010, and then listen to those who still support them. They represent each other quite well.
"So having somebody who knows Washington might be a really good thing." The GOP is now back to the "insider" track.
Cain's, Paul's and Perry's outsider bit didn't work too well.
We're back to tearing down Washington from the inside. Wow. Can anybody spell FLIP or FLOP?
How about this? Let's rebuild government without the Nay-saying, No-to-Everything GOP!! Anybody wants to second the motion?
The only way to resolve all this is to 1. Cut ties with many of our current elected officials. 2. Serious reform about lobbyists, (cut them below the knees). 3. Make sure there are laws in place to NEVER allow these lobbies to get preferential treatment over US Citizens again.
This guy started off his stint as Speaker of the House with a $4,000,000 bribe from Rupert Murdock in the guise of a "book advance" which he later returned when it was discovered Newt lied through his teeth about never meeting Murdoch. And now he's a lobbyist, "strategist", chief cook or bottle washer for Freddie Mac who he describes as a creature of the Democrats. I'm stunned.
Down goes Frazier!" – the supreme wizard of bloviatorland is exposed for the parasite he is!
@UMCILA: newt is on his third wife. His first was his math teacher, gop figure LOL. He was pressured to step down as speaker due to ethics violatins. He was messing with his intern WHILE at the same time pushing a Clinton impeachment. He was fined 300k. He was a very shortlived, not very successful speaker. His 'contract with (on) America" only comes up in history classes as example of failed bombastic political insider posturing. How many of the new congress people who signed on to this fraud are still in office, eh?
I have no problem with this – consulting for any company. That is what most of the politicians do when they leave DC. Consulting is alot different than lobbying. Consulting, for example, is what Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have been doing as well, and charging millions to do so too. I don't find fault with them for their activities either, even if I don't agree with the advice they may have given.
CNN can't both confirm he was lobbying and yet also confirm he was NOT lobbying. Somewhere in this article CNN is lying. Nice "journalism" CNN!
@CNN: "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."
@CNN: "Freddie Mac confirmed to CNN that Gingrich was a consultant and not a lobbyist."
SO Newt lied. Get over it people. This is what Newt does for a living. Lying is the only thing Newt is good at doing so let him do his thing.
More usless "reporting" on a none issue. You Libs are becoming way too predictable...kinda takes the fun out of it. But keep trying. Oh how about princess Pelosi and her insider trading, and then trying to defend herself?