(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 really really really hope this clown gets the nomination. He cannot thnk on his feet, constantly puts his foot in his mouth " right wing social engineering", and has no discipline. He is surging now, but if history is prolouge, he will gaffe again and never come back.
Ron "way gone" Paul
I hope Newt gets the opportunity to debate Obama...eveyone knows it would be no contest. In the end you have "O" curled up in the corner sucking his thumb. Give em hell Newt...I'm hearing alot of good things about you while I eavesdrop in the coffee lines.
Aren`t all lobbiests playing "stragetic roles" ???
Everybody keep talking about how smart his guy is, well if he is so smart why did he manage to get his butt kicked out of congress? If he is so smart why haven't he figured out a way to make people listen to his non-sense? If he is so smart why is it he can't poll more than 15-18%. Listen he would not run circles around Obama because being a fat bloated, loud, insulting person is not going to win you votes, maybe some laughs but that's about all. He has a bunch of out-dated ideas that may have worked back in the 90's, but those times are gone. Anyways rather look at Obama any day than to look at Newt who looks lazy and and apparently he and his wife uses the same hair dresser!
The teabaggers must take Newt down like they took down Herman (Where de white women at) Cain.
I love the honesty of Newt. 4 years of amature ignorance. That is exactly what it has been. At first I thougth Obama was smart, but just evil. Turns out that he is evil and ignorant. Who would have known....
"Newt is very smart"
I keep hearing people say that, but I have not seen the evidence, .....
Need proof? Mr. Gingrich not knows "The Benjamins", he knows "The Grovers" and apparently some "Woodrows".
Still not convinced? Google his history, and then marvel at the fact that he's not in jail somewhere.
There's only one mistake he's made that he has not been able to rectify. He's still not getting paid royalties by LEGOS.
The attacks begin as soon as a candidate reaches the top tier of candidates. We all need to just ignore CNN, as a Democratic Party propagandist organization.
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.
I'm an independent and trust me – I would love to see Newt debate the president. Let's forget about his "issues" for a moment. Most sane people don't want anyone who shuts down the government and as Cindy McCain found out – we also don't want wh_ores as first ladies either.
of course "NOBODY" like the press right or left when it appears to be attacking their candidate and Newt is very good at going back on the media. He is also very good at lying with a straight face and hoping America has amnesia until after 2012. Newt's rise from 8points up to 25 in a little over a month just shows how sad the GOP candidates are. Well to be honest with you there is at lest ONE that makes a lot of sense yet he's polling like at 1%....Huntsman just may be TOO bright for this field.
As Newt say, we may be passing through 4 years of "amateur ignorance," but do we want 4 years of moral ignorance? This man is and ethical and moral disaster, in my opinion.
He is incredibly smart and would run circles around President Obama in a debate.
This is about the funniest thing I've heard since the last round of comments that "liberals were scared of Herman Cain because he is incredibly smart and would run circles around President Obama in a debate."
Newt Gingrich is an EPIC fail! some of us happen to remember the 90's!
So besides Newt being a pig with respect to women (cheated on 2 of his 3 wives, so far), a HUGE hypocrite calling for Bill Clinton's removal over the sex scandal with Monica while he serves his wife divorce papers when she's in the hospital with cancer, he also soaked the American citizens for $3.4 million in fees to Freddie Mac, contributing to the economic disaster under Bush that the U.S. is still trying to dig themselves out of and he has the nerve to call Obama "…amateur ignorance"??? This doesn't even get into his massive failure with his political initiatives. Well, now it's clear why he's the new flavor of the week for the republicans – they only choose hypocrites, liars and flakes.
Aw, Newt isn't even entertaining. At least Bachmann and Palin are complete idiots and make us laugh at their stupidity. Perry and Romney and Paul are just personable enough that their out-of-touch 19th century mentality can make us laugh at their inanity. But Newt? He's like a speedbump. He's useless, worthless and annoying.
Why is it that every candidate that the GOP put forward as the current "flavour of the month" then has some scrutiny done on their past and is found to have skeletons in their closet?
Pretty much all of the candidates have so much of a questionable past that the only ones that seem to make sense are Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul, who are being ignored by the media.
Newt Gingrich = The new GOP bum of the month!! A liar, a lobbiest ($1.6 million from freddy mac) all his x wives
and his infidelities! 80 ethics complaints while he was speaker etc..etc.. I did not think even the Repucklican,
pea baggers could go this low!! Watching the GOP debates (both the candidates and the audience) Is like watching
a neighborhood dogs take a dump on my lawn!!
As Tricky Dick once said: I AM NOT A CROOK!!
Hilarious! All you left wing goofballs picking on Gingrich like what he has done even comes close to the Clinton escapades and totally pales by comparison to Obama slipping his own campaign supporters funds through companies like Solyndra.
He better be impeached over this crap. Talk about losers?!?
Asked if his campaign would make the figure public, Gingrich replied, "To the degree we can, sure."....this is almost as classic as Bill Clinton saying, "Well that depends on your definition of 'is'"...
No Newt you either will or won't release that exact figure, my bet is you won't becuase it goes against what you are saying to defend yourself right now. You haven't changed at all, you are still a liar and a cheat just like you were in the 90's and before.
Big Dan Teague said it best in "O'h Brother Where Are't Thou" - "It's all about the money boys", guess Newt was a big fan.
Newt had worked for Freddie Mac lobbyists for many years. How could he is saying "I did no lobbying of any kind. That's all I've got to say about it." What a hypocrite! He is worse than a lobbyist.
All the ex-wives of this sob have to be laughing.
Yes I am afraid. Not of Newt mind you.
But that after all the illegal and immoral things he's done, he's still being considered as a valid candiate by the party that claims to find these things reprehensible.
– Diverting funds from a tax exempt organization and then claiming ignorance?
– Serving his wife divorce papers as she was dying of cancel?
– Attempting to impeach Clinton for his cheating and lying, while he himself was yes.. cheating and lying on his wife – whom he divorced. That was wife 2.
– On his 3rd wife and still rumored to be a skirt chaser
This is the best candidate you can come up with? This is the Christian man's candidate? Really?
This guy has so much baggage and he walks around trying to act like he has the right to criticize others? Denial and hypocrasy, yep you are an Establishment Republican.