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. iHate Stupid

    I love how liberal left is up in arms about Gingrich, yet doesn't say a peep about Obama being in bed with corporate lobbyists, or Pelosi having ties to big banks. Nope, it's "hey, you can't do it but we can!"

    November 16, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  2. Shirlee

    A rose by any other name is still a rose. A Newt by any other name is still an ethics' violating newt.

    November 16, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  3. brian in denver

    Oink! How hypocritical of our little old pudgy Newt.

    November 16, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  4. United We Stood

    LOL Newt. Based on the quality of the outcome, sure sounds like good ol' Newtie should've been giving free advice. The Macs needed a refund!

    November 16, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. Dscot

    Woman in California: "[Newt] is incredibly smart and would run circles around President Obama in a debate."

    Sorry, Woman, but not so. Newt only appears smart to not-so-smart people. You'll want to think about that one for a while.

    November 16, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  6. Liza

    I don't want to look at him anymore. He's so gross.

    November 16, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  7. Chris R

    Gingrich said, "I did no lobbying of any kind. That's all I've got to say about it."
    Freddie Mac confirmed to CNN that Gingrich was a consultant and not a lobbyist.
    Gingrich has blamed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for distorting the home loan market and Democrats for having close ties to Freddie Mac.

    All of that is from the article. So when was Freddie Mac distorting the housing market? Before or after he was taking money from them? When did they start becoming a source of all that is wrong in the economy? After he cashed his checks for $1.6Million? Looks like Newt is two faced.

    November 16, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. Siestasis

    Newt rails agaist the agency he helped screw with American Dream act and then took them for 1.3 M. You gotta say that this the man has balls, and lots of mistresses.

    November 16, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. Cajun_Dude

    Gov. Perry "Stepped in it", but Newt swims in it.
    Either the "Gingrich Group" was lobbying for Freddie Mac or he was more on the inside, guiding Freddie Mac to the disaster we all watched unfold.
    He is better off with his little group, selling plaques and awards to contributing businesses and strip clubs.

    November 16, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  10. Rick

    Anyone who followed US politics in the 90's knows this guy was as corrupt and immoral as they come. The fact he rose to the top of the pack in the GOP race is more a commentary on the sorry level of his opposition than it is on his suitability foir the job.

    November 16, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  11. MikeH

    When you look at Newt Gingrich, you are looking at a pathological liar and a sociopath in general.

    Anyone with a rational mind (sorry Republicans that excludes most of you) can research Newt's history of prolific lie-telling and conclude this man is severely delusional.

    November 16, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  12. Illinois Voter

    CNN: You need to be more careful in your wording. In paragraph 2, you say "CNN has confirmed" that Freddie Mac paid the Gingrich Group to "lobby Republicans". In paragraph 6, you say "Freddie Mac confirmed to CNN that Gingrich was a consultant and not a lobbyist." The consultant vs. lobbyist distinction is a key one which is lost in your article. In fact, your article, by saying "lobbying" earlier in the article and "consultant" later in the article comes across less as an innocent mistake and more as agenda-driven bias.

    November 16, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  13. Grand Oil Party

    The problem is that in Newt's head, he believes all the lies he spews. He's a classic sociopath. he feels no remorse because he can instantly fabricate an excuse for himself and make himself believe it. A man that cheats on his dying wife and at the same time chastises another man for cheaitng and yet cannot see or admit to the hypocracy in it is a classic sociopath.

    November 16, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel wrote:
    The attacks begin as soon as a candidate reaches the top tier of candidates. We all need to just ignore CNN, as a Democratic Party propagandist organization.
    Wasn't this first reported by Bloomberg News? Do you mean to suggest that we should also ignore Fox News when they report on this story?

    Newt would have a field day with Obama in a debate. Newt would be in such an epiphany throwing out insult after insult that Obama could simply stand there like Romney and win by default.

    November 16, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  15. Ed DFWTX

    Gingrinch has said the Radical Right-Wing social extremists have hijacked the party and burned bridges beyond repair. It is a real shame the GOP has become totally sold-out to the big money lobbyists and appeasing the radical social neo con nutjob following. Obama 2012!

    November 16, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  16. atsirk58

    I read about Newt Gingrich. I am not surprised. This is a man with a gigantic ego, failed marriages, an affair, and all sorts of littered baggage throughout the country.

    It doesn't matter what my political affiliation is.

    When I look at someone to be the President of The United States, I at least look for:

    1. Intelligence
    2. Diplomacy
    3. A reasonably standard life.. not like 4 spouses.. and affairs and such.
    4. Ability

    Naturally, there are many others. Newt Gingrich does not even make it to the buttom rung of my presidential ladder.

    A smart guy you bet. However, he is the ULTIMATE Wshington insider, and has all of the diplomacy of a charging Rottweiler.

    Electing Gingrich would be like electing Yogi Bear. Very likeable but takes a heck of a lot of picnic baskets

    November 16, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. Sinkingfoster

    How can both statements be true CNN?

    "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."

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

    November 16, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  18. m

    The audacity of this man! Did he really think his dubious dealings would not eventually surface? He has consciously made his living by being a public figure for the past 25 years. He really believe his is so superior to those around him that through endless speeches and pronouncements he can sell anything regardless of the facts.

    It would not be surprising to find the Bloomberg knew about this for some time and decided to release it to gain the most negative effect at a crucial point in GingRICH's campaign.

    It will be interesting to see how he wiggles out of this latest of a string of shall we say less than admirable undertakings.

    November 16, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. W.G.

    The republican party must be really getting desperate and are looking under every rock they can find .
    Good old newt name really fits him . A cold blooded lizard who left his first wife as she layed dying of cancer
    for another woman and eventually ended up with the "Blond Bimbo " he has now . His politics and political
    philosophy are as cold as he is .

    November 16, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  20. stevetall

    How do you tell if Newt Gingrich is lying? His heart is beating! This clown is greedier than most, and he does not deserve to be elected to anything where his opinion might matter. Just another self-centered, self-absorbed weasel.

    November 16, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  21. Rob in MO

    It's no surprise that the King of Hypocrisy lobbied in favor of federal agencies that he later scapegoated. he personifies sleeze and immorality.

    November 16, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    Just curious.... Do ANY of Rudy NYC, Sniffit or Obama Mama or any of the other leftists in here EVER get their posts censored? Based on the number that get posted, I'd say no. But I can guaranetee that MOST opposing views DO get censored. Hardly a fair representation of opinions in here CNN.

    November 16, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  23. Barry G.

    Please don’t say lobbyists! Isn’t that what corrupted our government and ruined this country?

    It’s sad that our congressional “leaders” serve the interests of the richest 1% of this country, because the richest 1% can pay lobbyists to get preferential treatment and favors.

    I don’t know how our leaders can look themselves in the mirror, or how they can live with themselves.

    It’s sad that some of our congressional leaders leave office and then go and work for lobbying firms—some earning $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 annually–to sell out our country.

    That’s sad.

    November 16, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. Kareen

    Newt the flavor of the week is pretty rancid

    November 16, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. Terry Gloege

    Give the guy a break – he had one hellish Tiffany's bill that had to be paid.

    November 16, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
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