Gingrich faces more questions about Freddie Mac
November 16th, 2011
01:03 PM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich faces more questions about Freddie Mac

(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.

Also see:

CNN Poll: Americans doubt super committee will meet deadline

GOP deficit debate strategy: Blame Democrats

Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (429 Responses)
  1. asrael

    Gingrich: Amateur ignorance no good, but an unending supply of professional arrogance just dandy...

    November 17, 2011 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  2. hope120

    Everyone wonders why we are in such a mess. No wonder when you want to listen or vote for people
    that cant tell the truth (proven) or are crooks. Wasnt this person in some scandles along the way ??
    I do remember one had to do with ethic violations.?? Not to mention wasnt he kicked out of Congress too.
    I know he has a large jewerly bill to pay, but I for one dont want to have to help pay it

    November 17, 2011 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  3. Avanb

    The "strategic advice" arrangement has been a long time practice by those who have just finished a term in elective office and by those who may be interested in running for another elected office someday. Reporters should check on Newt's phone calls to the Hill. Of course, he will explain that none of them had anything to do with lobbying. That's a common ploy. Then there's the conference call from the firm to the elected official being lobbied wherein a group of individuals who are members of the firm gather in a room and answer questions from the caller on a conference call. Hard to track isn't it?

    November 17, 2011 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  4. Elijah

    Gingrich is a lier lier pants on fire. That's not just my words that's also the conclusion of the house which found he lied during an ethics investigation which led to his ouster. Get-rich oh I mean Gingrich the top dollar historian. Just because you don't call yourself a lobbyist doesn't make it true. If you were paid on the behalf of a company to do there bidding on capitol hill. You are a lobbyist.

    November 17, 2011 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  5. Tony in Maine

    The advantage that the Newt would have in a debate is his ability to change positions within the same paragraph. That said, Obama is quick enough on his feet to see that and put his opponent into the blender set to puree.

    The Newt is not half as smart as he thinks he is or the pundits try to claim he is. He is venal.

    November 17, 2011 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  6. Sumguy

    Not sure what the point of this story is. Anyone who wouldn't take $1mill to consult for a semi govt. organization is nuts. If he turnedmdown an oportunity like that, i wouldn't vote for him because i would question his judgement.

    November 17, 2011 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  7. JTC

    For those folks suggested we get rid of Fannie/Freddie- you can wave good bye to affordable mortgage rates if that comes to pass. Also, I'm glad Newt seems to be backing away from the idea that the GSEs wanted him to tell them that lending to people with no/poor credit histories, seeing as how that's not what those agencies do.

    November 17, 2011 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  8. sircharles19

    There is something wrong with the story about Newt Gingrich lobbying under the table for Freddie Mac. When the housing market crash, Freddie Mac knew about it, yet monies continue to go to Gingrich. He resigned, did that and this to his knowledge knowing he was making money even when he step down. So I know federal investigation has to be done; he cannot serve this country as the next President of these United States of America, he has not clean up his troubles he is involved in or have said he has not done .

    November 17, 2011 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  9. Willie12345

    Newt's involvement with Barney's organizations is a "kiss of death" to his campaign ..... and rightly so.

    November 17, 2011 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  10. coy4one

    They're all dirty! They just don't bring out the dirt until the candidate is rising in the polls and becoming a threat.

    November 17, 2011 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Newt's problem is that he is/was not a registered lobbyist. At best, Newt was an influence peddler. He would be much better off just coming out an admitting instead of this dance that he's doing now. But, he cannot admit to influence peddling. He has trapped himself with his own past words, asserting that any politician who did what Newt apparently did should go to jail.

    November 17, 2011 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  12. Chipster

    How can Republicans, who go ballistic if a Democrat is even accused of possible ethics violations, even consider Gingrich as a Presidential candidate! This man paid a $300,000 fine for ethics violations in 1997. He violated federal tax law and lied to the ethics panel in an attempt to get the committee to dismiss the complaint against him. Not even considering his phony outrageous and charges that Clinton committed sexual harassment when Gingrich was behaving badly and doing the same exactly thing and the same exactly time! How can Republicans support this jerk?

    November 17, 2011 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  13. Pa mom Newt was not found guilty of an ethics violation! Here we have an article, such as those dredged up on Cain, to discredit anyone who might topple Obama. Why has Obama's paycheck from Fr5eddie and Fannie not made the news? Who has insulated Obama that nothing about him makes the news? I am always freightened by the lack of correct information and lack of economic understanding posted here.....and you vote yet!

    November 17, 2011 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  14. Wildone

    Gingrinch is so slimy that the only thing that sticks to him is more slime.

    November 17, 2011 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  15. JCQueipo

    Newt your are a loser, I hope you get the nomination and Obama grills you on every debate!! hahaha!!!

    November 17, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  16. snowdogg

    Newt... belly up to the hog trough – you're no different than any other Washington pol.

    November 17, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  17. Ja-Coffalotte

    This career criminal should be locked up

    November 17, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  18. Tex71

    If there is one constant in the Tale of Gingrich, it is his all-consuming thirst for Big Money.

    November 17, 2011 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  19. TM

    Newty, "Strategic advice over a long period of time" is what we voters call LOBBYING!

    November 17, 2011 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  20. charles

    He went after Congressman Frank for dealing with Freddie Mac will he in turn was doing the same thing. Like he said, he should be investigated and prosecuted. He is an Old Fat Fool. HYPOCRITES. SAME WITH ALL IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!! Wish Keith Olberman was here!!!!!!

    November 17, 2011 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  21. justme99

    Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton were in control when we had the longest period or peacetime prosperity. I want the prosperity back. I do not care about the petty politics and personal stuff. Newt is smart enough to help bring the prospertiy back. They are all corrupt in Washington, so that is not a disqualifier. Newt can get the job done.

    November 17, 2011 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  22. Going In Circles

    Tip of the Iceburg.

    November 17, 2011 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  23. Going In Circles

    *** "Freddie Mac confirmed to CNN that Gingrich was a consultant and not a lobbyist

    And the difference is ?????????????????

    November 17, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  24. demogal

    Feet of clay, just like most of the Repubs running for President. Newt is particularly onerous, however, because of his long history of devious and unethical behavior–plus his blatant hypocrisy!

    November 17, 2011 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  25. Alina1

    That bloody lobbyist.

    November 17, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
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