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. Neil

    Difference between consultant and lobbyist is – I incorporate my company for $99 and use any title I like to be corrupt and make couple of millions and declare i got 300k. Oops not to mention run for President, try to look like matured guy on national TV, Do anything I want and say I asked god for forgiveness. Or God forced me to run for office!

    Gingrich policy – Mask corruption with title. Mask adultry with " God"

    November 17, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  2. Robin Bray

    So he got paid for not doing any work. Nice set up. And a the same time he was dumping his wife who had cancer for another woman.

    November 17, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. boocat

    Gingrich is a perfect example of a sleazy politician. He's a liar and a hypocrite. Hell will freeze over before I consider voting for this guy for ANYTHING.

    November 17, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. Marjee123

    Listen to this guy twist and spin everything that appears negative about him, you can't help but wonder why the media calls him smart. In any other situation they would just come out and call him just what he is a political hack who is a confidence man.

    November 17, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  5. News

    Did I mis the intense scrutiny of Barny Frank and his close relationship with Freddie and Fannie (who are the root cuase of our current econonmic environment) and did I also mis how Obama Adminstation has gone silent on the 100 million in bonuses to Freddie and Fannie.....???????

    November 17, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  6. Quietman

    What did Rupert Murdoch want for his $4.5 million investment in Newt Gingrich? Fox News perhaps. Let us not forget this book deal to Newt.

    November 17, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  7. Chipster

    RandyLB, are you saying that his intentional use of tax-deductible funds for political purpose, in violation of House rules, while was serving as Speaker of the House, is acceptable for a presidential candidate? And no, all politicians are not crooks. You've made an accusation about the President but offered no evidence to support it. We know what Gingrich did that violated ethics rules. We know what he did to 2 wives. We know the hypocrisy of his outrage over Clinton's bad behavior while doing the same thing! I know of no such behavior by the current Occupant.

    November 17, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  8. jorge washinsen

    There is a rumor that Gingrich is visiting the rest room quiet frequently.I think CNN should check into it.

    November 17, 2011 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  9. jorge washinsen

    Just checking to see if J edgar and Leon are on duty this am.

    November 17, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  10. max

    1.6 million more reasons that newt is a dishonest axxhat. he was never an honest politician (i remember the 90s) and has not been honest in numerous interviews over the years.

    why exactly are fannie and freddy (or any government entity) allowed to pay to lobby congress? its asking for corruption.

    November 17, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  11. Dan in FL

    James: Lets move on–They all have done it, are doing it or plan on doing it.

    I don't know about you, James, but I expect better from our political leaders. We all should. Lowering our standards only makes our political system more corrupt. Part of the solution is to eliminate PACs and institute open primaries in all states.

    November 17, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  12. ddblah

    He shows you can get rich by threatening breaking down the government.

    November 17, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  13. Joe Shmoe

    @justme99 You won't have "peacetime prosperity" with Newt at the helms. He just wants more war and more taxpayers' money down the drain.

    November 17, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  14. Just thinking

    Newt does remind me of Nixon. A bright manipulative egotistic powerhungry sociopath. A come back kid in a way, he just won't go away (that's really the fault of some of the public and the think tanks , corporations who keep supporting him and his money hunger).
    Nixon however didn't have as many skeletons in his closet before being elected as president. Here comes Newt, dragging dirt behind him like a school boy pulling toilet paper on his shoe coming from the outhouse). If the past is any predictor (are you listening Mr Historian Newt?), then this sociopathic roundface baby boy rove-nixon cut out will excel... will excel in doing anything he can to get that coveted job of Pres.
    But where would that leave our country? Do we elect the worst among us to be lectured about "the greatest country on earth" and family values and greed?

    If we had a chuckle watching Italian or Greek politics, watch out, we can easily catch up with them ... just support Newt, and your worst nightmares will come true.

    November 17, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  15. durundal

    lets say for a minute that newt wasnt guilty of lobbying for fannie and freddie then turning around and wanting to screw them. What about all the real ethics violations and charges he has earned over the years, or when he lead the shutdown of government because he felt he was being ignored? Exactly how is this any kind of serious presidential material. All he can do is spew vitriol which only makes the divisions in this country that much more bitter

    November 17, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  16. steven harnack

    It's just amazing, the hubris of this guy. Criticizing others for the appearance of doing what he is DOing with both hands, somehow thinking that no one will know or care, and then when he is called on it he hems and haws and then says that is his final word on the matter and expects that to be the end of it. Someone else had it right, he's not half as smart as he thinks that he is.

    November 17, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  17. Damon

    According to the story, "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."

    A few sentences later, the story goes on to say, "Freddie Mac confirmed to CNN that Gingrich was a consultant and not a lobbyist."

    So CNN confirmed that Gingrich WAS a lobbyist, and then confirmed that he was NOT a lobbyist. Way to contradict yourself. However, it was not lost on me that the line saying he was a lobbyist was displayed above the jump, while the line saying he was not was placed below it. In other words, anyone just scrolling through the Political Ticker would see CNN "confirming" it and move on, without seeing that he was, in fact, NOT a lobbyist after all.

    Everyone knows the media are just cheerleaders for Obama, but do try to not be so obvious about it.

    November 17, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. .

    why is this still legal? our government is broken and obsolete.

    November 17, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  19. mnesbitt

    He will not get my vote and is a perfect example of all that is wrong in government.

    November 17, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. Greg Gilbert

    This is a small issue like him having an account at a jewelry store. They are going to have to come up with something else to do any serious damage to him. This just stirs partisan anger and leaves independents and those on the other side of the isle alone. Just like Obama's current scandals.

    November 17, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    Pa mom, define " correct information"? Is it information that confirms your world view, which seems to be informed only by the right-wing propaganda machines? The reason Gingrich's payments from Freddie and Fanny are news is because this is someone who has clearly profited from his connections, yet you defend him: why? Obama's life has been probed to the nth degree, and its only because the Right is frustrated with its inability to find anything that the myth of the MSM colluding in a coverup has picked up steam. Gingrich plays on this during the deates by blasting the media outlets sponsoring the debates: can't you tell when you are being used?

    November 17, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. Sid Prejean

    Sorry, Newt, but "... 'four years' of amateur ignorace..." !?!
    Either you are not a very good "historian" or you can't count.

    November 17, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. Mishra

    Or the media props him up to surge in the polls that way they have a bunch of stories to write about like what they did with Cain/Perry. Media isn't going to want to support a candidate that they can't dig up dirt on.

    This is why Ron Paul isn't media popular. Because he has no dirt and bad wills that the media will be able to profit on.

    How boring is an article about Ron Paul "Paul, married forever and truthful for a long time...". That's why there is an obvious candidate in this race if you look past the BS.


    Here we go again – big surprise: The news media is all of a sudden after Newt just as he surges to being a front runner in the GOP field. The media will pull every stunt in order to make Gingrich seem less favorable than Obama, all because they know Obama would be defeated if the election were today.

    November 17, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  24. Dean

    In a bid to stem taxpayer losses for bad loans guaranteed by federal housing
    agencies Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) proposed that
    borrowers be required to make a 5% down payment in order to qualify.

    His proposal was rejected 57-42 on a party-line vote because, as Senator
    Chris Dodd (D-Conn) explained, "Passage of such a requirement would restrict
    home ownership to only those who can afford it."

    Yep, it was all Bush's fault.

    November 17, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. Stacey

    "Yep... you can predict it... The Liberal Smear machine finds its latest target. If you start to look like a threat at all... you will be squashed. Nasty politics."

    Oh, well. That's how the game goes. No party is better at smearing, swiftboating and hate than the GOP. Go get some more popcorn and sit back and enjoy the circus! I know I am.

    November 17, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
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