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. Well, well..

    Yogi bear. Yes, yes, ... I see the resemblance.

    November 16, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. Kman821

    I believe toilet tissue is the ideal means to wipe Newt from the GOP presidential wannabe field.

    November 16, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. all of america

    So what's the big deal ? loser obama accepted solyndra money, also accepted taxpayer money from the unions bailout in the form of campaign contributions. Pelosi was doing insider trading .

    November 16, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. Yugo

    Well this will certainly spike his book sales! Add $10K to his speaking fee. More hits on his web site.

    November 16, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. peter

    I've never seen more skeletons in a closet than with Republican candidates, especially these. Good grief...

    November 16, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. Kman821

    "we just tried four years of amateur ignorance and it didn't work very well"

    He can't even count to three without lying.

    November 16, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  7. Kareen

    Is Newt the person people want as President? My god, he left his wife at her deathbed to marry the next one?
    He wasn't turfed out as speaker of the house for nothing, as he has no morals.

    November 16, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. semper fi

    I want the biggest baddest adulterating, cheating ,lying, dirtbag as President so he may understand fully how to deal with all his fellow peers and dirtbags. Send the meanest biggest Jackal in to fright with all the other jackals! Go Newt!

    November 16, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  9. NES5000B

    Newt is, was and always has been a liar and cheat. Is this the best the Republican's can do? The election is a circus – Cain the pervert, Newt the crook, Perry the backwoods hillbilly, Romney the plastic Ken doll, Bachman the bimbo from hell. I mean, really?

    November 16, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. Wayne

    Newt is just your regular bought and paid for politician. He can't resist getting his stubby, chubby, lil wrinkled, soft pig hands on more lobbyist dollars. This time, with Freddie Mac he is caught with his stubby, fat hand in the cookie jar and now he is squirming. Bring Newt on...Obama terms of GOP family values..didnt Newt cheat on his wife and then marry his mistress? How did this not end his political career?

    November 16, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. SiriusVH

    Please don't judge me by what I said or done ......... That is totally irrelevant .... Judge me by what I may be able to make you gobble about me ......

    November 16, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  12. R. Aurum Tar

    Let's please not forget Gingrich and NY23, This guy is not to be trusted as one who will carry the torch of the conservative base!!!

    November 16, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    I want the biggest baddest adulterating, cheating ,lying, dirtbag as President so he may understand fully how to deal with all his fellow peers and dirtbags.
    We already had him. His name was Bill Clinton.

    November 16, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  14. ybsnad

    what, another corrupt republican? and running for his partys presidential primary with a 28% favorability recently? no way. unbelievable. yes that was sarcasm. the really sad part is he will maintain that percent for a few more weeks, or even do better before his flavor of the month is over. at least hell get a few book sales out of the whole experience. good for this capitalist politician.

    November 16, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  15. TigerLily194

    He knows Washington s well that during his time there he feathered his own pockets and was the first Speaker of the House to be brought up on ETHICS VIOLATION......... what does that say about Mr. Gingrich and his morals.......... I am a repubulican and will never vote for Mr. Gingrich. The republicans need to find some one else with more characture......... than this bag of air.

    November 16, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. Tim

    Newt Gingrich has more skeletons in his closet than the catacombs of Paris.

    November 16, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  17. SiriusVH

    As an another famous GOPster said ... "I am not a crook!" ....

    November 16, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. icecold

    If Newt was paid by Freddie Mac from 1999 to 2007, doesn't that make him an ex-employee of the company, specifically during the years when the company was crashing the housing market. So how can he be crying foul about the government agency when he wasn't out there warning americans what would happen while he was collecting almost 2 million dollars of tax payer money. I imagine the advice he gave them was how to steal as much money as possible and bring the company to financial ruin while becoming extremey wealthy in the process.

    November 16, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. grizzly

    When I apply for a contract job they do a background check before they hire me. These Republican candidates are little worms with untruth, lies and corrupt backgroiunds and yewt they can be a candidate for President. No wonder we can never get an honest Government.

    November 16, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  20. Kareen

    Newt Gingrich, the biggest HYPOCRITE ever!!!!!
    Never will I forget this bloated PIG mouthing off at President Clinton and his affair with Monica, while he at the same time had an affair while his wife was dying in Hospital.

    November 16, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  21. Patriot Awesome

    What a perfect Republican candidate Newt is. He's an over weight white wealthy christian hypocritical man. He's going to get the nomination for sure!

    I'm telling you Republicans that if you want to win your only hope is Ron Paul. I may not like all his policy ideas but at least he's not a total dirt bag and he's been nothing but sincere and consistent.

    November 16, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. monetfan

    As someone who is old enough to remember the 1980 election I just want to say that I think some people might be forgetting the importance of likeability in a campaign – and how much it can do to eliminate the effect of gaffes and negative stories. What would sink the average politician tends to bounce off one who is liked by the public.I don't think either Newt or Perry have a great reservoir of likeability. Newt certainly does not for those old to remember him from the 1980s and 1990s. On the other hand it appears thus far that Cain does have that likeability factor.

    Ronald Reagan mades TONS of mistakes – misstatements – goofs, etc. as well as cringe-worthy memory-lapse moments – enough so that numerous books were written on the subject! Jokes about his lack of brainpower were rampant! He had the nickname "amiable dunce!" But it didn't stick. He had that likeability factor – that elusive "it" factor – that sunny optimism – and it carried him through.

    If people like someone they will cut them slack. Period. The GOP voters who support Cain seem to really like Cain. That is why he is staying on top in Iowa, SC, and Florida. Perry does not have – for whatever reason – that same degree of likeability. When he goofs it seems to stick more. I have thought his self-deprecation was good this past week – but it hasn't seemed to resonate. And Gingrich hasn't had it in the past – we will see how this story plays out.

    And why do people like Cain? He does have a sunny optimism reminiscent of Reagan. And he is an outsider. People see Washington in gridlock. Not much is getting done. People who support Cain say they are sick and tired of "politics as usual." They have said in interviews that they see Cain as a successful businessman who just might be able to bridge the partisan divide and enable something to actually get done to fix the economy.

    Cain has Reagan's Teflon coating. And he is likeable. So these gaffes are bouncing off – and he is staying in the hunt. I'm not sure if Perry will survive.He certainly has time – and $$. But do the voters really like him enough to overlook his mistakes? And Gingrich?? Time will tell!

    November 16, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. bartonfunk

    This is just another example of the liberal media bringing out "gotcha" FACTS. Just like that "gotcha" questions to Mr. Cain on Libya. I mean, come on, who in the world can expect a person to know about major international events several months or weeks after the fact. And who can expect a "historian" like Gingrich to know that they were really hired to lobby and not for their knowledge of modern european history.

    November 16, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  24. Pat in IL

    His "defense" is ridiculous and ruduculously transparent....anybody can see the lies right through it. I thought he was supposed to be smarter than that.

    November 16, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  25. TigerLily194

    The only thing Mr. Gingrich is doing by staying in this race of which he will never win is to earn more money on speaking tours and books he will write in the future. Never mind that he is not worthy of the Presidency or washington. We need men who are country first and money later............ Mr. Gingrich we need you to stepo aside and perhaps use that brain of yours to help another but you not so much.

    November 16, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
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