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. mypennyworth

    Wow! What's with the people?

    President Newt Gingrich...sounds kinda funny. Newt ...something like a bug you want to use a fly swatter on.

    Gingrich...its like the Ging you pull out from your rich nostril..

    But then, they are all Gings and Kruts anyway and the world better be ready for such vermin.

    January 22, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  2. FedUpRepublican

    Gingrich won in one southern state that is in no way is representative of the majority of Americans, especially those Americans in the northern states. Gingrich didn’t even score a top three finish in either New Hampshire or Iowa. This hypocritical megalomaniac and his myopic kool-aid swilling supporters may think he has the nomination sewn up, but he has a very steep uphill climb ahead (and a lot of baggage to carry) once the voters in the north get their say. Gingrich’s sharp right turn on social issues (along with Santorum) is and will be a big turnoff for those moderate Republicans and Independents that are better educated, more open minded and tend to be more libertarian when it comes to politicians and government intruding in to the private lives of their fellow Americans.

    January 22, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. Doug

    Was South Carolina an open primary? Only way Ican figure he won so big is obama supporters voted for him.

    January 22, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  4. Carmen

    I have a simple...honest question. If these Republicans cared SO much about getting this country on the right track...why are they waiting for us to elect them to hand over the secret formula? Do they have to be in office to make the magic work? Yeah...I thought so...they're full of it. It’s all about the power.

    January 22, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  5. John

    Just how many American People are going to believe these LIES that Newt Gingrich Is telling. Next thing he will tell you that he only had one wife.

    January 22, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. Sorensen

    The old, "catholic" adulterer keeps selling all his empty garbage, and there are still a bunch of very naive people
    buying it. Like all hot-air baloons there comes a point where there is just too much hot air.
    Then it explodes. Don't stand next to it when that happens.

    January 22, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. Just make it up

    Is this man even capable of truth? That is an amazing spin on history and facts. Next he will be admitting to asking for an open marriage and then tell us he encouraged her to go to the press with the story just before the SC primary, so that the could just get it behind them. I really really feel sorry for anyone who believes his bull.

    January 22, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. Ted van Tol

    To Keith,

    You sound desperate! And yes you will have to accept, Barack Obama will be your president 4 more years.
    Newt has no chance with his past so get used to it.

    January 22, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. jpmichigan

    Listen to liberal sound off!!! When are you finally going to vet Obama. His policies are the equivalent of the sermons presented over 20 years, he heard in the pew of Rev. Wrights church. European form of socialism, which has not been the cause of the fall of various European countries. Rev. Wright stated, " Damn American." And little by little Obama is fallowing his lead.

    January 22, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  10. svann

    Gingrich's position seems to be that the American people have no right to the documents covering his ethics violations because Romney isnt producing his tax statements?

    January 22, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  11. Valentina

    Newt is a disgusting human being and I don't understand how South Carolina social conservatives could have voted for him with clear conscience since just couple of years ago they threw out their governor (Sanford) for exactly same thing they've embraced Gingrich for. South Carolina social conservatives are a bunch of hypocrites – that's a lesson I've learned from Saturday's results.

    January 22, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  12. Gemini Girl

    If you look up "shady character" in the dictionary, you'll find Leroy Newton Gin-Grinch's picture! It looks like SC doesn't care about ethics and moral integrity. SC, what is wrong with you?? Sure, you didn't want Willard Mitt "R-Money," but SHEESH! Newt? Newt??

    January 22, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. Susan in Arkansas

    I really don't consider Newt's winning 40% of the votes in South Carolina's GOP primary a slam dunk, especially when you consider that 60% voted against him.

    January 22, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. Martin

    Let me see, he TOLD members how to vote on an ethics investigation?

    Geez, this guy just keeps getting worse and worse, doesn't he?

    January 22, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  15. Martin

    Keeping Track – don't blame CNN polls for incorrect information. ALL news organizations were reporting similar numbers. As recently as Wedneday, FOX NEWS was calling South Carolina for Romney.

    January 22, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  16. Larry Linn

    It is ironic that conservative Republicans consider that to allow committed gay couples to marry, is a threat to marriage, but they will vote for New Gingrich.

    January 22, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  17. jrod

    It would have been easier to understand the ethics violations if you had Rangel explain them to us.

    January 22, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  18. rhythman02

    If this guy winds up with the Republican nominee, that will be confirmation that the party has lost its collective soul. The argument that Gingrich or any other Republican has done nothing that Democrats haven't done is proof positive of their collective abandonment of the very principles and morals they claim set them apart. Too bad; it's not a pretty sight.

    January 22, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    "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.”

    No, you also were convicted of writing bad checks, 22 in all.

    January 22, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    @Keith in Austin: Our country "needs" conservatives? Were you asleep during the 8 years of GW Bush and conservative economic, military and foreign policies that drove our country into the ditch?

    If it weren't for President Obama's policies, we'd be in a Great Depression; Osama bin Laden would still be at large; we wouldn't have 22 straight months of private sector job creation; we'd still be in Iraq and probably invading Iran.

    Conservative policies are PROVEN FAILURES. Anyone with a working brain knows that. The problem is all you conservatives refuse to deal with the reality that your party wants to turn our country into a third-world backwater, with no public education, a population of slave-wage-ready workers, and a ruling elite who own and control everything.

    January 22, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. J myer

    Newt looks like a really scary person and could be very dangerous if he is provoked. He is so angry, and I wonder how that would work in the White House, staff members, meeting with world leaders, etc.? How can he talk so negatively about the terrible elites and is so critical of them? He is talking about himself, as he is one of them. Everyone knows he is quite brainy, but there has been no personal discipline throughout his personal and public life. Between his financial problems, failed marriages, affairs, and his political life, discipline has not appeared. His character is questionable with the decisions he has made. People really need to take a second look before they decide they want him in the White House. The American people don't need someone who is on a constant rant. Also they aren't looking for a college professor teaching them about ancient history every time he gives a speech. This is 2012, not the 1900's.

    January 22, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  22. Pat in IL

    He thinks very lowly of the intelligence of the American public if he's putting stuff out there like this and actually expecting us to believe him. What a worthless liar.

    January 22, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  23. kenny

    So when Gingrich is found to have violated rules he pays a restitution and when I am found to have violated the rules I pay a fine. This fool thinks that paying the "Cost of Court" is a fine while the payment ordered by the House was only a reimbursement. That's what "The Cost of Court" is that you pay. It is to reimburse the court for part of it's cost. Gingrich can change the meaning of anything he says and it is supposed to fly with the public because he says it. What a foolish old man.

    January 22, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  24. TonyK

    lisaj and the rest of the "pro-Newt" ilk–

    Look at the big picture please. It's not just the corruption charge (which, by the way, was true) Everything else Newt has done in his life has either been overtly cruel and corrupt, or has carried the strong stink of decay. He is as his namesake–a creature that lives under a rock and feeds on rotting matter.

    January 22, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  25. Tylenol666

    He Reminds me of our High School Princpal,, Mr. Brown,,, ahhh goood times,,, :),,, GO RON PAUL

    January 22, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
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