(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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Newt may be the most unfit of all. I find it funny that people think that the world began the day they became aware of the world around them. For those too young: Newt is an adulterer and hypocrit. He was the point of the spear for the GOP when they went after Clinton in the post-Lewinsky period. He was doing far worse and later admitted it. So if you want a bum, you've got one.
Democrat Class Warfare – Destroying the economy, destroying the country
$15 TRILLION in the hole as of today! if Obama is re-elected, we'll be over $20 TRILLION in debt when he leaves office. We'll be paying close to a TRILLION a year in interest payments ALONE. Of course, the Democrats will still refuse to cut spending and propose we raise taxes to 120% of income.
if Obama is re- elected, we will be reduce 10 tillion in debt from tax on millionare and billion
I'm sorry but this man is an a blowhard egomaniac who used his position in Washington to amass wealth from a failing program. Newt is articulate and quick on his feet but his rate of intellegence and thoughfullness is extremely shallow, just look at his track record.
Another hypocritical fraud.
Liars eventually trip themselves up because they can't remember what they said. The Newt will do the same. Our previous president makes all of these GOP candidates look like Einstein – and we all know how smart he was. Cain doesn't know anything about Libya even though its been in the news for the last 8 months. Paul has some radical ideas like pulling the plug on the sick if they have no health insurance. Perry is from another planet, and can't remember what he will do if elected. Bachman is a total idiot. All of them are mean spirited, uncaring and vindictive. In 2012 I think I will stick with who we have now. At least he has a logical and clear thinking brain and CARES about the common man and not the ones in their ivory towers on Wall St.
The system is so rotten. And then we have to put up with the GOP evil clowns trying to oust Pres. Obama, Occupy WS is a good start at revolutionary ( systemic) changes.
Newt has no credibility anymore, morals, or interest in the American people. His only interests are women, huge lines of credit at Tiffanies, and padding his bank accounts.
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.
if Obama is re- elected, we will be reduce 10 tillion in debt from tax on millionare and billion
Take everything they have and you don't even come close to making a dent in the debt. You need to educate yourself on the scope of the problem this country faces.
So the liberal reporter states the Gingrich Group lobbied for Freddie Mac even though later in the article it states that Freddie Mac confirmed he was a consultant not a lobbyist. Don't let the facts get in the way of an opportunity to rip one of the GOP front runners. The lengths the liberal media bias will go in this country never cease to amaze me. Haven't you guys figured out from your terrible ratings that this country is right of center?
LMAO! Oh Newt, you are laughable – either because you know you're lying and honestly believe that you can convince others you're not....or because you just honestly beileve the things you say are true! Either way, the GOP Comedy Tour is obviously still in full swing.
This guy, like most of the others, only runs for President to make money, plug a book or simply to try to gain a bit more name recognition...of course with Newt specifically more name recognition is not necessary, we all know full well already what the person named Newt is all about...and it's not helping the majority of Americans.
the silence is deafening at Faux...
Gengrich might just lie about lobbying. No wait, he said he doesn't lie. Just ask his wife. Not the first one he lied to about his mistress and then told he wanted a divorce while she was in the hospital with cancer. Come to think of it, not his second one – the former mistress, who he left for his next mistress. Perhaps the current one who, if history repeats, has not yet met his next mistress.
After all, Newt is all about history.
Occupy WS is a good start at revolutionary ( systemic) changes.
Yes, they demonstrated the abject squalor they want ALL of us to live in eventually. No thanks! But do feel free to go live in the feces and urine yourself.
Well, since Freddie Mac was following the bad advice from Gingrich for which they apparently paid handsomely, I guess we can ultimately blame him for the debacle. Stick that in your eye, Newt.
Anybody but Obama. Any of the Republican candidates is better than Obama. Obama is systematically destroying the country and it's leading industries. Lazy my rear.....Obama's Czars are regulating our livelihoods to death. Given 4 more years, there will be NO WAY for the United States economy to revive. Then Obama will crown himself King of the World.
This another republican who wants a smaller government but big fat fee. HYPOCRITE TO THE BONE!!!
Congrats republicans -- you blame recession on housing crisis and the biggest lobbyist for Freddie Mac is now your candidate for President.
What 's the beef? He's a HISTORIAN. Do you know how hard it is to find a good historian these days? They command top dollar, and you're competing with middle schools, high schools and the staffs of noted plagiarists like Doris Kearns Goodwin for them.
Newt needs to crawl back under the rock he crawled out from and stay there this time!
Gingrich: "Okay, okay. I'll give it all back–to my PAC."
"I ask you, your honor, is this the face of a CRIMINAL?"
BTW- The dying wife is still very much alive and she served him with the divorce papers. Don't let the facts get in the way.
Newt: "I'm a role model. Every historian should make what I do. The only ones who don't are lazy."
Does this suprise anyone?Money runs Washington always has always will.Thats why big business doesn't want those dirty commies toruin it...sad