(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 is the last guy Obama wants to face in a debate. He is way too skilled and experienced. As speaker of the house he worked with President Clinton and balanced the budget. he formed coalitions and accomplished good things for America. Right now we are absent a leader that can get together with Republicans the result is Gridlock. If you want more of the same vote Obama. If you want a change Newt is our best bet.
Newt made mistakes. We all do and anyone who runs for President would have to answer for their mistakes. I want a politician who will say "I screwed the pooch. It is my fault and I regret what I did." Additionally I want a politician who will state their positions clearly and stick by them. I think, for the most part, Newt is doing that. He is by far the most intelligent of the candidates and I like intelligence.
You first Newt.
So Gingrich made some money from his knowledge & connections. That's called doing business! Is it really worth a whole article? My brother makes that much and more working in the aerospace industry as a consultant/sales manager.
Interesting that this popped up now that the fund is under government scrutiny. So far Mr. Gingrich has escaped the in depth search for information and is riding on his statements of the last few months. I do hope that people will look at his views of government and religion and will view his associations with groups over the last few years. It will give people a picture of just who Mr. Gingrich is.
@Chuckly: Because it's not reaally newsworthy. They're making a big deal out of NOTHING!
Gingrich can't seem to remember much.
But he still wants to run the country.
Thanks Newt, but no thanks.
Wow, Liar, womanizer. Lack of ethics.A man the lost his Speaker's seat.. What can the American people expect from a person with these credentials.
In one form or another, Gingrich will always find a way to cheat the American citizens out of taxpayer dollars. This guy 's only talent is being a crook.
It's great that Newt got all this loot to be a "historian." And everyone says that history majors won't ever get a job... Wow. You learn something new every day,
Unsure of how much he received? Just like he didn't know how much he owed Tiffany's? He's starting to sound as if his memory is as faulty as Cain's memory. Maybe it's dementia; maybe it's the usual disingenuous heifer dust the GOP uses to avoid the truth....
Gingrinch is a shameless liar.
What does Gringrichs "surge" say about the republican party? That a disgraced former speaker who was removed on ethics violations is now a top presidential contender. It's a testament to their total lack or principles, just like Newt himself. If it wasn't so pathetic, it might be funny.
Neutered Newt the tea party and GOP elite crook and philanderer. You wanted him you have him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Gingrich is an icon for what we're so angry about. A political player, hypocrite, and corporate insider that gets rich on the backs of the middle-class. At least Romney didn't cut his teeth in DC!
Newt sure knows how to lie !!!! But then he has done enough of it to be really good now !!!!!!
this guy just like cain and palin will do anything to sell their books and make a buck! newt has alot of things in his closet that now that he is on the riase in the poles we will be hearing about. the first thing he will try is to not answer the question he is asked until he slips in the poles than he will start justify his past THAN WE CAN ONLY HOPE HE AND THE IDEOLOGY HE WAS WILLING TO SHUT THE GOVERMENT DOWN FOR WILL GO AWAY!
newt is just a daylight hypocritical fraud. period!
Newt can't walk 2 feet without telling a lie or creating an ethics violation. Why anyone would even consider voting for this huge headed pseudo-intellectual is well beyond my ability to comprehend, even though I understand how stupid and lazy the American electorate actually has become
Secondly, MITTENS is clearly going to be the Republic Party candidate.
Finally, while we debate – in the blogs – just who and when, and the media hypes various alternatives to run against our 2nd term president, it is only doing so for the ratings... It will be President Obama against the Flip-Flopper, and the religious right and neoconservatives will all hold their nose and vote for MITTENS, mainly because they do not much care to see a tanned man as president of the USA...
It's astounding that the GOP cannot come up with a better candidate than Newt as number "one no Trump", or maybe the LDS guy, or maybe with Trump himself.
Consultant = paid off by lobbyists
What a lying hypocrite this clown is. He will say ANYTHING to get elected.
Newt's baggage even has baggage. Note to Newt: GO. AWAY. NOW.
Is this the best you can come up with CNN? I do think the vetting is good but this is going nowhere. Newt is fantastic. Newt/Romney for fixing Obama's mess. I can't wait.
So let me see if I understand this. This Tea-Party loving arch conservative, who rails against government spending, makes an exception when it comes to getting some of that money himself: $1.6M to be exact. What an incredible hypocrite!!!!!!
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." Good luck CNN.