Gingrich faces more questions about Freddie Mac
November 16th, 2011
01:03 PM ET
2 years ago

Gingrich faces more questions about Freddie Mac

(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.

Also see:

CNN Poll: Americans doubt super committee will meet deadline

GOP deficit debate strategy: Blame Democrats


Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (429 Responses)
  1. Dan in FL

    What's the difference between a consultant who formulates lobbying strategy and the lobbyist who executes that strategy? To me it feels like there is a distinction but no substantial difference. I think Newt is smart enough to have found a clever way to skirt the question and fool the public.

    November 16, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. boehnersux

    This sleaze ball (Gingrich)l makes Richard Nixon look like Mother Theresa.

    November 16, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. bb

    Lesson to be learned: If you want to seriously run for the office of the president of the United States of America, 1) Don't repeatedly do things that brings ethics charges against you, and 2) lobbying for Freddie and Fannie and giving them 'advice' that was so bad that it helped cause our economy to crash while becoming a multi-millionaire by doing so IS only going to bring strong dissent against your campaign.

    November 16, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. Rich

    another right winger that wants to cut social security and food stamps while he gets big taxpayer welfare...sad Newt san...

    November 16, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. Minnie's Pearls

    Once again, a fannie is getting Newt into trouble.

    November 16, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. Jeff--Tacoma WA

    I wish the damn press would leave Newt alone; at least until after the nomination. The GOP is running out of "not Romney" candidates.

    November 16, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. Woman In California

    @ Dscot

    Woman in California: "[Newt] is incredibly smart and would run circles around President Obama in a debate."

    Sorry, Woman, but not so. Newt only appears smart to not-so-smart people. You'll want to think about that one for a while.

    You're obviously NEW to these blogs. IF you would take the time to REALLY read what was posted – I DID NOT SAY THAT. I was responding to the other person.
    Peace.

    November 16, 2011 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  8. Sid Prejean

    One of three choices:
    Took $1.6 million to givr bad adviice.
    Took $1.6 million to give obvious advice, "Don't lend money to people who can't afford to pay it back..
    Took $1.6 million as a lobbyist.
    What's the difference?

    By the way, ever hear this conversation? "No,dear, I wasn't cheating on you. That young woman is my historian!"

    November 16, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. Chaz

    Thinkforyourself, OK wrote:

    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.

    -----------------------

    Wow, there was a ton of fact in that statement. Nice job, you obviously did your homework.

    Forget thinking for yourself, you should just try thinking first. Baby steps...

    November 16, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  10. Solus5

    Obama is going to CARE us right down the toilet. Yeah, Newt is not perfect.. No man or woman is.. Newt has never said that he is "holier" than anybody, nor has he given any impression that he has never messed up.. He has admitted that he has.. Harvard says the Healthcare reform Obama SHOVED down the throat of America when a substantial majority of Americans didn't want will cost WAY more than the initial cost.. WOW go figure that.. Another Big Government estimate falls way short and costs way MORE than expected...

    I can't wait to get that Ayers loving, Wright following, Community organizing, Big Spending, World Tour Apologizing for America, Saudi Bowing, never held a real job president out of office.. Not to mention his wife who, according to her, had NEVER been proud of America until her hubby got elected.. The same also goes for Joe "The Gaffe Machine" Biden...

    And as for our system of government, it may have it's faults, but that is not due to the system, it's due to corrupt people.. The system of government is still the BEST on the Planet.. And if Occupy WS thinks for one minute that overthrowing the system will be the start of Utopia then they have another thing coming, because the corruption lies in the people; not the system.. The minute they (OWS) become the powerfull ones, the corruption will begin all over again.. Change should come through election not standing out infront of peoples houses.. Man... what idiots..

    November 16, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  11. Lolo

    And the so called Christians want to talk about everybody else. These republicans have so many skeletons in their closets, but their so called patriotis, christians followers choose to turn their heads and look the other way. Like I said before such hypocrites.

    November 16, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. Terrel

    So Newt was hired by Freddie Mac to gain GOP support on Capitol Hill as the government-backed mortgage company came under fire during the subprime mortgage meltdown. But he says that he wasn't a lobbyist. So it would seem that either he didn't know what he was hired for, or he is lying and has committed a crime by not registering as a lobbyist.

    November 16, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. steve

    Liberals are scared to death of Newt. They'll try anything to keep him from going up against Obama, and for good reason. Gingrich would tie Obama in knots in a debate.

    November 16, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  14. us1776

    Gotta pay for those half-million dollar tiara's somehow.

    .

    November 16, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  15. wonderin

    Yes, in reading these comments I see we are all so much better than Newt and those we sent to Washington. So, I wonder, how it happens such smart people as we keep sending idiots to Washington? Oh, I forgot, it is everyone else who sends idiots. Sorry. I guess Newt will be some idiots idea of good as much as the idiots he is running against. Inguess that's how the idiots sneak through because...as I say...they cannot possibly be the result of us and this.

    November 16, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. Jess Sayin

    He discussed divorce while wife number one was recovering from cancer of the uterus surgery. He discussed divorce with wife number two after she was diagnosed with a precursor of multiple sclerosis, and then tried to annul their 19 year marriage. Wife number three (and counting) has not been diagnosed with anything, publically, and they are still together. Would Pres. Gingrich divorce the US, for a wealthier nation, if the economy grows worse?

    November 16, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. 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 what consulted a Mortgage Company on American History. Sure and Stevie Wonder can see this is a big lie. He lobbied or he taught Fannie and Freddie how to lobby through his contacts. Potato, Potatoe it's the same thing except one is misspelled.

    November 16, 2011 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. Rosslaw

    This is the sort of story that only interests political pundits and the inside the beltway class. Gingrich is running as a Republican. A video can come out showing him cooking and eating children and it will not matter to the right. The distinction between lobbying, consulting and being a historian is laughably lost on your average morbidlly obese right winger who is convinced President Obama was born in Kenya and covertly planted by the Mau Mau in Hawaii to take over the United States and that Obama's killing Bin Ladin proves he's a Muslim.

    November 16, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. John

    Once a Crook all way a Crook. I for got something . and once a Cheat all way a Cheat just ask two of His ex-wife. One that was sick with Cancer.

    November 16, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. Mitch

    Who's rising in the pollls? Oh wait let me check CNN..ok here we go. Stories about Gingrich. Ok he's rising in the polls. Checks polls..yep, he's rising all right.

    November 16, 2011 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  21. nytw

    Sound like Newt can flip flop as good as Romney.
    So does the tea party want experienced people that have been in Washington D.C for years to stay there or do they want to clean house and bring some outsiders to fix things.

    November 16, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  22. chuckly

    So where exactly is this story over on 'Fair and Balanced' Faux news. this story can't be found, nor could the 'cain pause' unless you searched the site for an hour looking specifically for it.

    November 16, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  23. Colgate

    Later, dude.........Next????!!!

    November 16, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  24. chuckly

    So why is it if I want to go to the only 'fair and balanced' place to read the news, this story cannot be found. Nor the one about cain's 'big pause'? I assume you may find it if you wanted to search for an hour, though.

    November 16, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  25. RandyLB

    Toughlove: I wasn't a Newt fan until recently. You are absolutely correct, Obama could not stand up to him in a debate. I think he is the best choice for the GOP nomination and for the White House. Let's face it, all politicians are crooks, and the biggest one of the all is living in the White House right now.

    November 16, 2011 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
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