(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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Great, Another turncoat money grabber,
This guy sued his exwife for alimony too.
Newt, sorry but if I'm going to elect someone with moral values, I'm going to have to pass on you. Evangelicals for Mitt!
Washington welcomes all those who can be bought.
There is no perfect candidate. We need a strong person who has seen it all and is wise and tough
Amazing, aren't the right. This guy gets kicked out of his speaker of the house job by his own party over ethics. Is the only speaker to ever get fined for ethics (300k). Quits in shame. And now they line up for him like they never knew.
No Newt is good Newt...
What we don't need is another sleaze bag, who would finish off what Bush started. I don't like Obama either, but I would never vote for Newt the Washington Pig.
Im reminded of an old saying... No Newt is good Newt...
Here is another example of how the left-wing media takes an old, non-story and tries to cause a controversy, and predictably all the knuckle-dragging left-wingers, who clearly didn't bother to read the article, are being the "useful idiots" that they are and jumping on this non-story.
Tell me progressives, what part of "Freddie Mac confirmed to CNN that Gingrich was a consultant and not a lobbyist" do you not get?
Democrat Class Warfare – Destroying the economy, destroying the country
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.
I don't think we're the ones who need an education...
Just what is the definition of "lobbying?" Being paid to write a paper to influence other republicans is not lobbying for a company? Being paid over $1million to write a paper and he has the nerve to say others are taking advantage? The new Newt is reminding me alot of the old Newt.
Taking 1.8 million for consultant fees huh??? Sounds to me like Mr. Gingrich won't be a very good President considering his advice caused Fannie and Freddie to go broke.
Its amazing what some people are willing to forget.........Give me a break, do you think this money grubber is your solution? Please America do your homework, become informed..
Reason enough to eliminate the incentive for public officials to regulate private industry.
Say what you will about Newt, he probably knows more about running the country than a community organizer with his biggest asset being that he can shoot hoops.
As usual the main stream media is more concerned with a conservative than they were with Obama, Dodd and Frank who pressured Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to give loans to people who could not afford them. Good non-biased reporting again.
What an arrogant son of a gun. Imagine this ...man as President. God help us!!
Hey Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac....don't eat the yellow snow!
Where's my money?
Could someone please indicate which one of the stone throwers in Congress (and the like)that haven't done some lobbying (With the exception of the freshmen who I'm sure will get around to it soon enough)? This current political environment is rife with hypocrites who don't get (or refuse to get) the fact that when they sling such mud, a good portion gets on them as well. It's obvious the left is terrified of Gingrich and would like to see him go away. He is a debater without peer and would give Obama fits in a head-to-head match up. I suppose from that perspective, I can't blame them for wanting to see him go.
Newt is just another GOP liar – the house is full of 'em and it's certainly no surprise. What will be a surprise to him and the rest of his pack – Obama's 2nd term that will not be denied. Obama will clean the roof if he debates News – for one thing – Newt is not a family values person, did lobby for FM AND took a fortune for doing it. He's done. All GOP clowns are done.
Pitiful! You mean the extreme evangelists and the tea party ultra right wing nuts are so desperate to excercise their bigotry against Romney and his 14 million member Christian Religion that they would nominate a former lobbyist who was a principle operator in the effort not to regulate the industry that has nearly destroyed the economies of the Western World!!!!!! People, please grow up!
If Newt says it, it must be true. I bet he NEVER lied to any of his wives to hide his adultries and certainly wouldn't lie to us about this. Just is case any of you Teapublicans didn't get it, this is sarcasm.
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.
The GOP change miunds daily of what would be the 'best choice' for the White House (other than Obama of course) But by tomorrow I'm sure you'll be 'supporting' another Corporate pig who will do NOTHING for you, your kids or your g-g-grandkids – they want it all for their own g-g-kids don't cha know?
And Randy, you know in your heart that Obama will clean the carpet with Newters – it just feels good to type it doesn't it Randy?
Poor old tired Grandpa, why doesnt he just retire and enjoy life? How much money does he need before he dies? How many years does he have? Oh yeah the monsters live forever.