(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 have two major problems with Newt not having to do with policy. First, he is a hypocrite. According to his ex-wife he has two standards, one for the masses and one for himself. That's how he could lambast Clinton at the same time he was cheating on his wife. The second is that he was instrumental in creating the acrimony that exists in Washington today. His plan was for the GOP to gain power by using language to demonize his opponents. His arrogance knows no bounds but he is about half as smart as he thinks he is. Ends do not justify the means, Newt.
Why be a lobbyist when you can provide advice for $350,000 a pop.
Read the Bloomberg article on what the Newter actually did for FNMA. He was hired as a lobbyist by them to generate Republican support.
Advise them as a historian? Are you kidding me. As if Newt knows the history of home finance, the development of CDO's or the economic history of FED macro policy.
That's the trouble with feeding off the government as a lobbyist and then trying to go back into politics. If you want to get paid, you are going ot end up leaving an unsavory trail. I guess Newt can add that to his history as an adulterer and his Congressional Ethics Sanctions. You can say a lot about ROmney but he is nowhere near as dirty as this clown – he of the $500,000 Credit Line at Tiffany's.
Just shameless. Only a blowhard, self-involved egomaniac could think he could get elected with a revolting personal history like this guy has. Utterly shameless – he is a national parasite.
And don't forget, he called Obama's wildly successful policy in Libya "the greatest blunder in the history of American Foreign Policy." Good old Newt – frequently wrong but Never in Doubt.
amateur ignorance? What? Hey what about the eight years of GW Bush? Talk about ignorance – that was as bad as anyone can imagine? Little Dubya with his six guns starting wars everywhere, cutting taxes during war time when he should have been increasing them, off the books war appropriations with money borrowed from China, deregulated financial institutions that sold mortgages to anyone with a pulse and TARP and all the rest. Come on Newt, were you comatose during the failed Bush 2 presidency? How will you be better?
hard to believe the guy who asked his wife for a divorce so he could be with the other woman, while she was struggling with cancer would lie to the voters. he is not worthy of the office, any more than cain or craig huey
You will never see anything like this come out on RON PAUL. He is morally and politically clean, consistent, honest, and right! Please vote to Restore America. Vote RON PAUL!
Dr. Paul doesn't really understand life in the big city. Dr. Paul seems to think that most Americans live in tranquil, countryside settings on a farm. Growing your vegetables, raising your own chickens, that sort of thing. It's a society where money is not as important as relationships.
What Dr. Paul describes sounds like The Waltons to me. Nothing against John-Boy or anything. But, Dr. Paul's vision for America is just simply not reality in the slightest.
1.8 million for strategic advice? If he ever got elected, which I strongly doubt will happen, he would take into the office the same attitude that the American people are plain stupid and it would be business as usual on Capital hill.
It`s time to abolish those Democrat darlings, Fannie and Freddie. That`s how dems run things.
Newt made at least $2,000,000 – and he says it was to give "generic" advice? "Historical" knowledge? So $2,000,000 is the going rate for info Freddie Mac could have just googled??? My butt!
How can this man make appox 1.5 million dollars and not remember or even know how much it was? I think maybe he has too much money to be in the position of President! I think this man is just another crook that has managed to survive in government!
If it looks like a Duck and sounds like a Duck it is a Duck.
Currently seeking volunteers to staff a campaign bus called The Scarlet Letter, which will remind voters in key states of Newt's adulterous affairs.
"Newt is very smart"
I keep hearing people say that, but I have not seen the evidence, unless your standard of measure is Perry, Bachmann, and Palin. In that case a baboon is smart.
C'mon people give him a break. Newt is a very driven man with class. So driven by the love of his country was he that he commited adultery as a result. So classy is he that he was able to serve his wife divorce papers while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer.
He did participate in the investigation of then President Clinton's "perjury and obstruction" criminal prosecution. He did prosecute Clinton for four affairs.....
Clinton continued to serve ins spite of being convicted and obvious lies. Gingrich actually, stepped down from his Leadership position and gave up his seat in the House.
Do you realize (and I think you don't because it sounds so good to you) that you are contradicting yourself. How is it possible for Mr. Gingrich both not participate in the investigation and prosecute him at the same time?
If Mr. Gingrich was the center of "much ado about nothing" then why was he "smart" enough to step down from the #3 position in the country. Do you realize that his resignation means Republicans have "hit for the cycle" over the last 40 years for the order of succession.
If he wins the presidency can we call him Prsident Toad?
Don't mistake arrogance as intelligence.
It's the media's fault for asking the question.
Not the candidate’s fault for lying.
Well that's just great. Newt had to quit being a holier than thou moralist when it was discovered he was having an affair while he was impeaching a president for having an affair. And now it turns our he was in bed with Freddie during the time he's been claiming that Freddie caused the financial crisis. Great guy.
Here we go again - big surprise: The news media is all of a sudden after Newt just as he surges to being a front runner in the GOP field. The media will pull every stunt in order to make Gingrich seem less favorable than Obama, all because they know Obama would be defeated if the election were today.
I do not understand why Gingrich joined other contenders. He knew for sure what he did in the past and that people are aware of it. Is this not to test people's memories or seeing how stupid they are!
Unfortunately, the polls prove that memories are short. The media will remind them and then it is goodbye Newt.
"The news media is all of a sudden after Newt just as he surges to being a front runner in the GOP field.'
Ah, the sweet sound of the chirping rightwingnut. Blame the media for reporting on a candidate's history, words and behavior. Ya'll are too stupid to realize that THIS IS WHAT THE PRESS IS SUPPOSED TO DO!
Honestly folks, if Newt is seriously being considered by the GOP masses... I weep for this country. I have no problem with the GOP, and wish them the best of luck (we all need a fair shake), but Newt? Really? Look up the term "leech" and I think you'd get a better picture of what he is all about. He is the slimiest of the lot. He can't take a shower long enough to wash off the dirt from past and present transgressions. There's got to be a better option than Mr. Gingrich. Just sayin.
According to newt 4 years of amateurish control of washington hasnt done anything..he forgets the previous 8 years of second generation washington that drove us into a spiral of debt we will take generations to voercome, tax breaks for the richest while we needed income to pay for two wars he started.
Tax contracts for oil companies in the gulf that he forgot to put in the contract the royalty payments the oil companies agreed to that cost the american tax payer more then $25B...neglected to get bin laden, kept us in a war in oraq based on lies, ignored information about terrorist attacks and 9/11 happened, yet knowing nothing he had the bin laden family flwon out of america the same day...some coincidence.
Yes lets stay with what we know...generational washington has been so successful...well it has if your a corporation, one of the wealthiest 10% or happen to be a politicians..everyone else?....not so good, unemployment, pensions stolen, welfare cut to the bone, homelessness, healthcare second to none..as in none is even better then the healthcare has been...heck bush sr even got to throw aids sufferers off the healthcare altogether to save the insurance companies money, acted illegally in the arms to iran and his sons bailout in the savings and loan...lets not forget the 'lockbox' with the secret doorin the back he stole everyones money from.
Yes generational washington is like in breeding...they produce ever more twisted inhuman offspring