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. GI Joe

    Anyone that thinks Newt is in this to HELP the U.S.A.. should turn in their voter ID card and walk away in shame. He's in it for NEWT and Calista (the diamond studded golden helmet girl).

    November 17, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. TommiGI

    Come on, every political insider/lobbyist hast to wet his beak at the expense of us plain folk. Newt hast to make some easy cheddar.

    November 17, 2011 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  3. GuyinVA

    Extra! Extra! Republican rises to the top of the Polls... is attacked by leftist media!!! Sun to set in the West today!!! Extra! Extra!

    November 17, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  4. oldndragon

    Just another example of politiction raiding the public coffers, this man is no better than a crook, always "I did nothing wrong" Im turning my American flag upside down because that is exacly what these crooks have done in Washington.

    November 17, 2011 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. Mark from Louisiana

    Why has obama refused to speak out about the huge bonuses given for modest achievement at freddie mac and fanny mae? Remember when obamas crony made 90 million a year there?

    November 17, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  6. Roger

    OMG! Can't we just take some knowledge from England and make our election process 6-8 weeks long and get it over with rather than have to endure another year of this foolishness and these ridiculous candidates. Anyone with any sense is going to wake up to reality and re-elect President Obama. Sorry, Newt you along with Herman, Rick, Michelle and the rest of the bunch are just too ethically and morally bankrupt for America.

    November 17, 2011 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  7. Toxic Zebra

    Laissez-faire: shades of old Rome in the theater.

    November 17, 2011 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. Hark

    Old news and slanted to fuel the leftist artillary cache. Freddie Mac says he was paid for his advice....Cnn reports it as lobbying...????? Give em hell Newt. Its your turn on the waterboard bench. Blow it back in their faces!

    November 17, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. FLIndependent

    @GuyinVA – "Extra! Extra! Republican rises to the top of the Polls... is attacked by leftist media!!! Sun to set in the West today!!! Extra! Extra!"


    I think the question you have to ask yourself is why in the world is this disgraced past Speaker of the House rising to the top? He is corrupt and very old news. Is this all you Repubs have?? Pathetic to say the least.

    November 17, 2011 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  10. Tired of the nonsense

    Why is Newt even in the news? Americans haven't forgotten the embarrassment he caused this country in the 90's. He's a menace to the workings of this nation. He's the lead obstructionist and definitely one of the lead narcissists. President Obama could run circles around this guy because Newt is all talk and damaging action. How in the world could anyone take Newt seriously? Everyone should be scared if this guy ever got near the White House again because of the damage he'd do. That's not speculation either. It's fact that all he does is destroy and blame everyone else for his actions.

    November 17, 2011 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  11. Daddy2010

    Lobbying should be made illegal. Politicians are supposed to be influenced by the people, not by corporations.

    November 17, 2011 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. ck1721

    "Freddie Mac confirmed to CNN that Gingrich was a consultant and not a lobbyist".....and yet CNN attempts to say that he was a lobbyist in the headline. Isn't there a journalistic code that says you can't take away from a quote or change it in any way that would change the meaning? Come on....integrity people. Let's stop the mudslinging.

    November 17, 2011 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. Muldoon in Ohio

    Newt's ethics have always been questionable, which is a major stumbling block in his qualification not only for president, but for any future elected office. He is/was a washington insider, but was basically forced out of the congress because of ethics, and then to add his three marriages and infidelities,'re looking at a preponderance of issues the democrats will use against him. I'm sure the dems will welcome him as a presidential opponent.

    November 17, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. allen

    Interesting...I never need to check polls or listen to the news to find out which republican candidate is doing well. All I need to do is look for who's getting hammered or smeared on the media outlets.

    November 17, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  15. Joel

    Gingrich has done nothing but get rich at the taxpayers' expense since he has been in politicks (not misspelled, ticks emphasising the fact he is sucking the blood out of the country, as the rest of the politicians are). He and Herman Can't would be the perfect match to finish destroying this country and its economy. Gingrich, if you really want to help America, then why don't you put all that bloat (not your stomach fat) into the deficit? if i had millions of dollars extra that i don't need, then i would certainly contribute. Probably the only Americans who are willing to do that though, are those of us living paycheck to paycheck – which is a sad thing.

    November 17, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  16. Lenny Pincus

    Newton Leroy! Censured by the House, drummed out by his own colleagues, supporter of the Medicare Drug Act, married three times and serial adulterer, Baptist turned Catholic, paid advisor of Freddie Mack. Perfect for the principled patriots lacking a real leader.

    November 17, 2011 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  17. boyamidumb

    Another fine example of a "christian" leader with high moral and ethical standards – except when it comes to himself.


    The way these fools are shooting themselves in the foot, one right after the other, do you get the impression that the real powers behind the scenes have picked their candidate. Watch for a sudden rise in someone's fortunes as we approach the beginning of the year. That will be the person THEY have chosen.

    November 17, 2011 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  18. dreamer96

    How much did Newt Gingrich get paid to give advise to wage war against Irag...

    Newt did you go along with disbanding the Iraqi army...which led to looting of power plants, blown up oil wells, pipelines, arms depots looted, the quick use of old weapons as IED's...

    After so many dead, wounded U.S. soldiers in Iraqi, I wish Newt Gingrich would just go home and leave us alone..He has shown he is wreckless with the lives of U.S. soldiers, and as a political leader sided with the tobacco industry and their money over the health of Americans..

    November 17, 2011 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. The Real Scoop

    Even the most liberal of voters must now admit that the nation is too messed up to have someone with little experience in the White House. Even President Obama backers now realize that it was a mistake to put someone in the highest office who lacked wisdom only decades of experience can bring. The times have become too perilous.
    The country can't afford to gamble this time around, even on someone with the best of intentions and lofty ideals. To pull the nation from the brink of collapse will take not only radical and sweeping changes but someone who has the abilities to make them happen. Of all the candidates out there, only one has a chance at doing that. It may be a "snowballs" chance, but only Newt has the skill set to do it.
    In the final analysis, the informed public will not risk another experiment on an unknown quantity. Newt will get the nod.

    November 17, 2011 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. FactCheck

    Even the most liberal of voters must now admit that the nation is too messed up to have someone with little experience in the White House. Even President Obama backers now realize that it was a mistake to put someone in the highest office who lacked wisdom only decades of experience can bring.

    Exactly the reason why the loons that are being shephered around as the GOP candidate will not win the general election.

    November 17, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  21. dreamer96

    Mr. Gingrich played such an important secret role in the planning of the war in the first place.. Hired as a consultant to the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, by Rumsfled, and Cheney, Newt was involved from the start, that is in September of 2001, just days after the September 11th attack, invited to a 19 hours planning meeting at the Pentagon, on what to do in response to the 9-11-2001 attack. Even at this early date Newt was pushing the invasion of Iraq as the opportunity to replace Saddam....the members of that meeting agreed to attack Iraq as soon as the initial phase of the war with Afghanistan was over. Newt has stated ”If we don’t use this as the moment to replace Saddam after we replace the Taliban, we are setting the stage for disaster.” Newt was right there with Cheney and Rumsfled involved in several meetings at the Pentagon and the CIA.

    November 17, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  22. John Tighe

    Newt is too creepy and corrupt to ever win the GOP nomination. His only reason for being in politics is the money he can scam from the rubes. He's a high-class huckster.

    November 17, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  23. marty

    Newt Gingrich is one of the most egregious, distrustful, manipulators ever to cross the political stream. The electorate cannot possibly be swayed by this man whose past history screams for scrutiny. He may speak well and he may be very intelligent but it's HOW he has used those skills that must be considered. Public mea culpas simply dosen't cut it.

    November 17, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  24. Bingham

    If they are stupid enough to pay him and pay millions to their own executives based on 15 of the 17 last losing quarters then who gives a rip. What we need to do as a government is quit funding Freddie an Fannie.

    November 17, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. woodrow

    I guess Gingrich was their friend until the mortgage market fell apart. Now he is going to disavow any knowledge of their 'going broke' strategy.

    November 17, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
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