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. normajean @ verizon ,com

    I do not understand how so many voters can accept this man as a possible candidate for president. He is totally lacking in character,honor,dignity and concern for the people!!!!. He has a well known background that is disgusting, both in his private and public lives...and is no more presidential than the rest of these candidates running now.!....none of them have the qualities to be president!!.. Don't you people read?// Don't you want the future of your country to be run by someone who cares and at least makes an attempt to better things rather than MAKE THEM WORSE?????

    January 22, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  2. Obama Cares

    RS, CA, check the back of your neck, please.

    January 22, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. normajean @ verizon ,com

    One of the writers says that our President had NO experience ,no qualifications and no known education.!.....Where were you when the lights went on. If the rest of us know about his Harvard schooling and his time as an attorney and a come you can accuse him of having none of these??? You better learn to read!!!

    January 22, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. james

    Did you notice he put a sweet spin on the violation...urging everyone to go ahead with the fine, so they could put it behind them and get on with business ....What a guy huh ?

    January 22, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. Thomas

    Newt Gingrich / Tom DeLay

    A jury found Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, guilty in a case involving campaign donations.

    Newt Gingrich tries to rewrite history of his ethics scandal , Gingrich claims he succumbed to partisan attacks by admitting ethics violations in the 1990s.

    January 22, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  6. Not Voting for Obama Again.

    To: 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."

    This statement makes me think of Obama more than any other candidate.

    January 22, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  7. James PDX

    Republicans – masters of the 2nd grade retort.

    January 22, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  8. jonathan

    So then OWS is not meant to achieve a "partisan political goal" because it currently is a tax exempt organization. Ah the irony.

    January 22, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  9. I wonder what he meant

    schools do tell people wrong things sometimes. i believe that.

    January 22, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  10. Thomas

    Newt Gingrich / Tom DeLay

    Fighting for a Honest Future !

    January 22, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. I wonder what he meant

    wasn't the mass plan something that two graduate students came up with? nobody was really talking about anything before that...except the 30 years of studies that our present system is a failure. that's the ONLY time i heard of anyone working on a plan. not very impressive from the medical community.

    January 22, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. Butter My Butt And Call Me a Biscuit

    Do Republicans really believe that a candidate who couldn't even win his party's nomination in 2008 and a candidate kicked out BY HIS OWN PARTY can hope to beat Obama? Jeb Bush, Chris Christy, Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, etc. don't think so. They don't think ANYBODY can beat Obama barring a successful terrorist attack or another Great Depression before November 2012. WHY DO YOU THINK THEY DECIDED THIS WAS NOT THE YEAR FOR THEM TO RUN?

    January 22, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  13. NH Grandma

    @Keith in Austin: why don't you explain to us how Obama has "failed miserably"? As I recall, weren't we losing somewhere around 750,000 jobs when Bush left office? Didn't Bush/Cheney start two wars that were unfunded? Didn't Bush bring on a "temporary" tax break for the wealthy and didn't all of that suck trillions from our coffers? Tell us, what kind of magic wand should Obama have used to fix all this in 3 yrs.? For what he was dealt, he's done a hell of a job. Putting the GOP back in power would be criminal for this country. We've already experienced their failed policies, no need to repeat. Now go back to Fox Noise, they miss you.

    January 22, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  14. Hark

    @pat in IL- No Pat ,you've got it wrong....Your Mr.O from Illinois has proved himself both worthless and a liar> Looking forward to his demise this November!

    January 22, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  15. logicnLA

    The innocent do not reimbrse for investigations. More double talk from Newt.

    January 22, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  16. Bob Ramos

    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.”

    Gingrich was a Congressman whose salary must have been about $125,000 at that time. With daughters in college, high cost of living in DC plus his high style of living, where did he get the $300,000 from?

    Also, what does the law firm have to say about his statements that they were unprofessional?

    January 22, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  17. CJPA

    Does he think we just fell off the proverbial turnip truck??? Talk about a spin-meister. So tired of all of this. I hope the American people see through this guy for what he really is (see previous comments! 🙂 Don't you love the righteous indignation he displayed to John King when he asked about his ex? Just trying to change the subject and put it on him – age old trick, but it worked for the SC voters. Yikes!

    January 22, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  18. Dan J

    Gongrich's defense is as believable as that italian ship captain tripping into a life boat.

    January 22, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  19. JBS

    First we hear that he did not get on the ballot in Virginia because one of his workers committed fraud. Now he tells us that he was found guilty of an ethics violation because his attorneys messed up. Sounds like a bad manager and someone who always had to have someone else to blame.

    January 22, 2012 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  20. Carla Hurst-Chandler

    Note to Newt. Nobody is buying the BS. Crawl back beneath your rock.

    January 22, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  21. Marie MD

    No wonder he wants that idiot from AK in his cabinet. They sound and lie the same way.
    You don't pay costs if you are not guilty. He left congress with his (very used) tail between his legs!!!
    How dare him pretend that he is not scum.

    January 22, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  22. Chipster

    I really don't want to hear the GOP claims to care about morals or ethics. Barf ! Gingrich calls his fine for lying to Congress while serving as the Speaker on the House a "reimbursement?" What a morally bankrupt human being this man is. How convenient he found a religious organization that will give him weekly dispensation for his sick behavior! Gingrich even attempted to convince voters that his big complaint about Clinton wasn't the affair but lying under oath. What a crock! Gingrich claimed at the time that Clinton's bad behavior amounted to sexual harassment because his affair was with a subordinate – and what was Gingrich doing? The very same thing! Yuck, Yuck, Yuck! What a revolting, repugnant, sorry excuse for a human being? And this is what GOP voters in SC has decided to elevate to their choice for President? Considering the slander they used on McCain and Santorum's wife, I guess that's what they deserve. But this country deserves better.

    January 22, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  23. Chipster

    So, Gingrich really worked hard to persuade his fellow Republican majority to vote to fine him? I suppose he must have worked twice as hard to convince them to force him to step down as Speaker of the House!!! How stupid are the voters who actually voted for this ethically challenged egomaniac?

    January 22, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  24. damn texan

    They both stink to high hell.Both are liars.newt will do anything to get elected and romney will say anything he thinks you want to hear as long as your voting for him.I'm trying to figure out which fits best to describe them. a hot air ballon? Or a weather vain just which ever way the wind blows?

    January 22, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  25. Kevin Hunt

    I was going to post something negative about Newt, but everyone else in this forum beat me to it on every single issue I can think of. Great work, people!

    January 22, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
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