Ethics penalty 'reimbursement,' says Gingrich
January 22nd, 2012
09:46 AM ET
6 years ago

Ethics penalty 'reimbursement,' says Gingrich

(CNN) - Newt Gingrich offered further explanation Sunday of the 1997 ethics investigation against him that resurfaced in recent days on the presidential campaign trail.

Speaking to CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley the day after winning South Carolina’s primary, Gingrich characterized the $300,000 penalty leveled by the House Ethics Committee as reimbursement for the cost of the investigation.

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Gingrich also claimed he persuaded fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives to vote “yes” on the ethics charges against him in order to put a swift end to the proceedings. Doing so helped lawmakers move on the balancing the budget, Gingrich said.

“I personally asked House Republicans to vote ‘yes’ because we had to get it behind us to get back to the things that mattered,” Gingrich said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

According to the nonpartisan fact check group PolitiFact, Gingrich was reprimanded by the House and ordered to pay a $300,000 penalty in 1997 for violating an ethics rule.

The violation originated in a course he taught at Kennesaw State College, which organizers claimed qualified for tax-exempt status, PolitiFact reported. The House Ethics Committee ultimately concluded the course was run to "help in achieving a partisan, political goal,” making it ineligible for tax exemption, according to PolitiFact.

Central to the 1997 investigation was a letter submitted by Gingrich’s lawyers, which the ethics panel deemed inaccurate. Gingrich conceded Sunday the letter was a mistake.

“It was a mistake,” Gingrich said. “So the one mistake I made was signing a letter written by our lawyers, a firm which frankly did me a great disservice. And that's the only thing.”

PolitiFact noted that the charge against Gingrich was an ethics violation, though the $300,000 penalty was considered reimbursement for the ethics committee’s investigation.

On Sunday, Gingrich derided rival Mitt Romney’s calls for him to release documents related to the investigation, saying the former Massachusetts governor was in no position to call for greater transparency.

“It’s almost bizarre,” Gingrich said. “Here's a governor whose staff erased all of the computers for Romneycare. He's released no information on how they developed Romneycare. Here's a governor who has not yet released his taxes.”

Romney said Sunday he intends to release his 2010 tax return on Tuesday.

Also see:

South Carolina insiders dissect Gingrich win

Santorum stresses his own staying power in three-way race

Ross defends Gingrich ex-wife interview

Gingrich plans major speeches, including one on space

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. Fred Phred

    He was found guilty of 85 ethics violations by his own party nonetheless!

    This wasn't "a mistake". This was a guy who's dishonest getting caught. The $300k was the first time in history that the committee fined someone – which says a lot.

    When your own party distances themselves from you – you're a screwup.

    January 22, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  2. GOP = Greed Over People

    And Herman Cain called it a "severance" payout instead of a "settlement" payoff.

    You say tomato, I...

    January 22, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    So let me get this straight. Newt's explanation is he was just be altruistic getting his cronies to vote yes for the greater good of the country even though he was innocent of any wrong doing and he didn't read what he signed by his lawyers. He is either a pathological liar or he believes we voters are complete imbeciles and will buy the crap this man is shoveling.

    January 22, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. Johnny

    Liar Liar Pants on Fire !

    January 22, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Noodle Nose Johnson

    Newt Gingrich is gone from revisionist historian to complete and total LIAR. The idea that he suggested to fellow Republicans to vote for ethics violations against him so they could continue the noble quest for a balanced budget is vomit inducing.

    January 22, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. Kay Stark

    If Newt wins this race my husband and me are simplly "NOT VOTING", not wasting our time going to the polls. We had plans of "giving our Vote" to the republlican in the race. We usually vote for the person and not the party. Not this time we were going to vote for the republican, but not if it is Newt! "NOPE, NOT IF IT NEWT"!.
    "Isn't a newt one of those things that live under rocks and slither around in the mud".How fitting that he is called "Newt".

    January 22, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. Chuck187187

    Newt + Romey = Monumental Epic FAIL. OBAMA – Biden 2012 will CRUSH ANY Republican team. Period.

    January 22, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. Deep in the heart of TX

    One positive thing about having the newt as the nominee, there will no more of those self-righteous, holier-than-thou GOP preachers and "christians" lying to us about how they believe in "family values" and "morals".

    If this clown is the "driver" of the "clown car" and represents the evilrelics and baggers, then "family values'" will be reduced to a joke punchline.

    January 22, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. John

    Wonder if Trent Lott remembers Newt and his back bench dealing that many Republicans saw as his drive for power. He is obsessed with leaving his mark on history with ego comparisons to the likes of Churchill etc. But now he is "born again" which absolves him of his past transgressions, sounds remarkably like many convicts who find the Lord while incarcerated!

    January 22, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  10. K3Citizen

    Gingrich is really good at blaming others for his faults. He is in favor of open marriages, but against transparency in government.

    January 22, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  11. GaryOwen27

    Newt, you are as crooked as a dogs hind leg.

    January 22, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Riley

    No way Newt!!! Romeny will be the nominee and will beat Obama.

    January 22, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    An ethics violator at the head of the ticket? Only in the GOP..............

    January 22, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    To Keeping Track – Several days ago Faux News had the same numbers and ran with them. And for your information CNN is consistently more spot-on with its analysis. Faux is the concoction of Rupert Murdoch whose sole purpose is to promote the Right and smear anybody that opposes them. Rupert's in ethics trouble in England and Australia. Stunning, isn't it?!

    January 22, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. Larry in Houston

    the newter isn't going very far – when he jumps into the alligator swamp – when he goes to florida – they will eat him alive, come Jan 31st – at least the ppl in florida has the brains to think with – unlike s.c. – or any of the other "petticoat Junction or green acres or mayberry RFD states – if the newter gets in -he will make sure he will put this country in a Vise, by gridlock – once they get a dem congress .

    January 22, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. TM

    When Democrats violate the rules they resign from office. When Republicans violate the rules they laugh because they KNOW that their fellow party members and voters will NEVER hold them to account. Exactly what "values" does the GOP stand for?

    January 22, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. Keeping It Real

    Liberals seem to want to cling onto this item as something monumental, yet they give a complete pass to Democrats caught in obvious lies. Obama lied about numerous items from facts about healthcare which affects everyone, down to his father fighting in WWII, which was impossible. It's hard to take these liberal comments as anything more than partisan rhetoric, when they hold their double standard and care little of the lies and corruption within their own party.

    January 22, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. dan

    Ethics violation, serial adulterer, Speaker who initiated the no-holds House - that's not what we need in a President.

    January 22, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    "The only dirt on Mitt is that he has been successful and has gotten more conservative."

    Umm, there is a lot of dirt on Flipper the Elitist Robot. Vulture capitalist. Corporate welfare queen. Spoiled trust fund baby. Cruel to animals. Cayman Islands. Marriott. 15% tax rate. Advocate of failed voodoo economic policies. The list is long my friend.

    January 22, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. JohnWV

    Did the five million dollars Las Vegas casino king Sheldon Adelson gave to Newt Gingrich contribute to his South Carolina victory? Limiting political donations is limiting free speech according to the Supreme Court. So what is my influence, my vote, worth vs. Sheldon Adelson's? Way less than three fifths; actually close to nothing at all. And Mr. Adelson's purpose seems to be to enfranchise Israel. Whatever has become of our American Democracy?

    January 22, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. Dina

    Not to defend Romney, but will someone tell all these lying candidates that in Massachusetts, we're happy with Mass Health, and it's working.

    January 22, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. Samuel Getaneh Bogale Calgary Alberta

    Gingrich has been part of "Politics" for a very long time he is a seasoned "Politician" we all make mistakes but my sense is that he will keep on making them – he is a wild card!

    January 22, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. testerbill

    First, Romney did not draft the Mass. Health Care legislation. The majority Democrats in the legislature are responsible for that bill.
    Second, Asking for the committee to vote "guilty" to get it over with sounds like he had something else that he did not want them to discover.
    Third, he denies the facts of his two divorces, saying the court documentations are incorrect as are the collaberating words of his friends.
    Fourth, he will say anything about anyone to get elected. His ads against Romney had been proven to have incorrect information.

    January 22, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Orchid333

    No clear (good) candidate for the GOP. Enough said. This election is going to be a clean sweep for Obama. You heard it here first!

    January 22, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  25. Paul

    I really want Obama to lose but it Newt is the nominee I will have to vote for Obama. Newt is a scumbag

    January 22, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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