Ethics penalty 'reimbursement,' says Gingrich
January 22nd, 2012
09:46 AM ET
11 years ago

Ethics penalty 'reimbursement,' says Gingrich

(CNN) - Newt Gingrich offered further explanation Sunday of the 1997 ethics investigation against him that resurfaced in recent days on the presidential campaign trail.

Speaking to CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley the day after winning South Carolina’s primary, Gingrich characterized the $300,000 penalty leveled by the House Ethics Committee as reimbursement for the cost of the investigation.

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Gingrich also claimed he persuaded fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives to vote “yes” on the ethics charges against him in order to put a swift end to the proceedings. Doing so helped lawmakers move on the balancing the budget, Gingrich said.

“I personally asked House Republicans to vote ‘yes’ because we had to get it behind us to get back to the things that mattered,” Gingrich said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

According to the nonpartisan fact check group PolitiFact, Gingrich was reprimanded by the House and ordered to pay a $300,000 penalty in 1997 for violating an ethics rule.

The violation originated in a course he taught at Kennesaw State College, which organizers claimed qualified for tax-exempt status, PolitiFact reported. The House Ethics Committee ultimately concluded the course was run to "help in achieving a partisan, political goal,” making it ineligible for tax exemption, according to PolitiFact.

Central to the 1997 investigation was a letter submitted by Gingrich’s lawyers, which the ethics panel deemed inaccurate. Gingrich conceded Sunday the letter was a mistake.

“It was a mistake,” Gingrich said. “So the one mistake I made was signing a letter written by our lawyers, a firm which frankly did me a great disservice. And that's the only thing.”

PolitiFact noted that the charge against Gingrich was an ethics violation, though the $300,000 penalty was considered reimbursement for the ethics committee’s investigation.

On Sunday, Gingrich derided rival Mitt Romney’s calls for him to release documents related to the investigation, saying the former Massachusetts governor was in no position to call for greater transparency.

“It’s almost bizarre,” Gingrich said. “Here's a governor whose staff erased all of the computers for Romneycare. He's released no information on how they developed Romneycare. Here's a governor who has not yet released his taxes.”

Romney said Sunday he intends to release his 2010 tax return on Tuesday.

Also see:

South Carolina insiders dissect Gingrich win

Santorum stresses his own staying power in three-way race

Ross defends Gingrich ex-wife interview

Gingrich plans major speeches, including one on space

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. Gary

    I am trying to decide which new word best fits Newt's character. Weigh in please. The two I have come up with are 1) smugnacious, and 2) repugnacious. Another commenter suggested sinsneer. Votes or new suggestions?

    January 22, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  2. Rick

    What an idiot. A "Mistake" he claims. If an average american commits a mistake he gets tossed in jail. Newt sails, pays a fine and then goes on to be a lobbyist for Freddie Mac, making millions before the crash and of course knowing when to get out of the market in 2008 before everybody else.

    What human scum, and the people of South Carolina are scum for voting for him.

    January 22, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  3. Antonio Rich

    Gingrich needs to step aside and make room for the new. The sun has already set on his career as an effective ethical and moral politician. He couldn’t be trusted a speaker…we cannot trust him as a president. He needs to take his baggage of “poor ethical behavior and step aside”.

    January 22, 2012 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  4. Lynn Otting

    The House ethics committee dropped the three remaining ethics charges against Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) yesterday, despite finding that Gingrich repeatedly violated one rule by using a political consultant to develop the Republican legislative agenda. The ethics panel was "persuaded by the court's findings" that the laws were not violated, Hansen and Berman wrote. "It appears to us that to the extent that GOPAC was exonerated by the court, you are by implication exonerated as well," they wrote to Gingrich. A third allegation that Gingrich benefited personally from $250,000 in GOPAC "Newt Support" and should have reported it as income for federal tax purposes was also dropped by the ethics committee for lack of evidence. Gingrich is paying $300,000 for the costs of an ethics committee investigation. By Curt Anderson Associated Press Sunday, October 11, 1998; Page A13

    The Internal Revenue Service has cleared an organization of charges that it violated its tax-exempt status when it helped fund a college course taught by former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), the organization said yesterday. Associated Press Thursday, February 4, 1999; Page A05

    January 22, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  5. J.V.Hodgson

    If the ethics committee termed it a penalty its a "penalty" of $300k
    all this re-labelling of fine, re-imbursement of costs is truly purely semantics a waste of time
    He was actually found in certain respects to have breached ethics rules.
    Thereafter the amount is high and the sin probably high. all this wasted time on fine penalty re-imbusement is another example of why Voters and me Yawn and say not another stupid waste of time and effort while paying his salary.

    January 22, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  6. madmaninthemiddle

    I only saw one defense of Gingrich in these comments that spoke to the matter of whether the ethics charges were validm. Good for you for at least trying to defend him on the issue.

    Several others took the tactic "oh yea, well what about Obama (and/or Clinton, Kennedy, weiner, Frank...

    So let me get this straight. You of the party that decries that anyone who needs help in this world is failing to take personal responsibility are going with the standard 9 year-old's defense, well Johnny did it too!

    January 23, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  7. SPFIX

    An innocent man doesn't pay reimbursement...........

    January 23, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  8. ThinkAgain

    @RS CA: "What we do NOT accept (and believe our country deserves better) is an individual who had no experience, no qualifications, no educational records we can assess (other than a self-promoting "autobiography") – who was elected ONLY BECAUSE he is black!"

    Really? You think the ONLY reason President Obama was elected because he is black? He did have experience, qualification and educational records – but even if he walked on water, folks like you would find fault. You all HATE the idea of investing in our country, creating opportunity for average Americans, sustaining and expanding the middle class, ending the war in Iraq, bringing Osama bin Laden to justice, having 23 months straight of private sector job growth, the lowest taxes in 50 years, finally addressing skyrocketing health care costs (including not letting insurance companies dump you when you're sick or keep you off the rolls for a preexisting condition) and keeping us from going into a Great Depression.

    Because THAT is what President Obama has done (plus many more accomplishments). If you insist on saying he is taking our country in the wrong direction and insist on believing the fairy tale that Republican policies work (all facts to the contrary), then YOU either suffer from mental illness or want our country to fail.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    January 23, 2012 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  9. Seanomatic

    Why is everything a "mistake" for Newty......... Sitting down with Nancy, cheating on his wives and now this. He ain't nothing but one BIG MISTAKE!

    January 23, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  10. Sage

    It's time for him to go!

    January 23, 2012 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  11. Don Jones

    How thoughtful of the Newt to persuade fellow lawmakers to vote yes on ethics charges against him. He is a very patriotic shyster that's was caught using his position in Government as his own personal ATM. He fits right in with the GOP " Manson " Family Values.

    January 23, 2012 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  12. queenbee

    "Ethics penalties" results from organizations policing themselves. This is done when no actual law can be perceived of actually having been broken but when things are not done according to the rules and regulations of a certain group–it is often done in politics and by lawyers to forestall outside enquiry which could spread the guilt to more members as laws were probably broken too, ethics investigations is a way of pretending to monitor and censure members but only the most outrageous or the ones on the wrong side of the party or org are publicly censored.

    January 23, 2012 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  13. Bcd

    Well,OK. If you believe this unhinged claim you also believe that the $1.8 million the Newt got from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was for history lessons and "overhead". How stupid does this egomaniac think people are?

    January 23, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
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