Second Freddie contract required Gingrich to meet with “major stakeholders” to discuss “business and public policy issues”

posted at 11:35 am on January 25, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

National Journal has a look at a second contract between Freddie Mac and Newt Gingrich, and it raises the same questions as the first.  Once again, Gingrich as a consultant reported to the senior VP of government relations at Freddie Mac (Mitchell Delk), the firm’s top lobbyist, and it required what most people would call “lobbying”:

The services provided by the contractors are as follows;

–Serve as adviser to Freddie Mac in the areas of strategic planning and public policy for Freddie Mac priority issues;

–Engage in discussions with Mitchell Delk and other senior officers of Freddie Mac relative to strategize on approaches to Freddie Mac business opportunities and challenges;

–Meet with major stakeholders of Freddie Mac to discuss business and public policy issues when such meetings can contribute to the achievement of Freddie Mac business goals;

–Contribute to Freddie Mac corporate planning and business goals subject to the direction and the request of the Freddie Mac Project Manager

National Journal offers this take on the contract:

Newt Gingrich insists that he was not a lobbyist for Freddie Mac and a second contract released Tuesday night spells out that fact. But it also makes clear that Gingrich was a hired gun brought in to discuss “business and public policy issues” with “major stakeholders” (read: lawmakers and regulators.)

So, for the second day in a row, a contract released by Gingrich’s former consulting firm shows that while he may not have been a lobbyist by Washington’s definition, he was getting paid to be a political and policy heavy on the mortgage giant’s behalf. The contract paid The Gingrich Group $25,000 a month and ran between May 1999 and December 2000. And Gingrich answered to Freddie Mac’s senior vice president of government relations Mitchell Delk, himself a registered lobbyist.

Note, though, that the contract explicitly barred Gingrich or his firm from providing “lobbying services of any kind” or participating in any lobbying activities on behalf of Freddie Mac.  We have in essence a no-man’s-land between the legal definition of lobbying and the commonly-accepted lay definition, which is contacting “major stakeholders” to impact public policy.  Gingrich is correct in saying that he didn’t engage in lobbying in the legal sense, while Romney may well also be correct by calling this “influence peddling.”

My question is this: So what?  Lobbying has a legal definition, and no one has accused Gingrich of actually violating the laws governing the practice.  If Gingrich still could impact policy without breaking the law, why should he have refrained from doing so?  Lobbying in general is a constitutionally protected practice, specifically mentioned in the First Amendment.  If Gingrich could operate a successful business in the public-policy sphere, a lifelong interest of his and one in which he has great expertise, without breaking the law or specifically becoming a lobbyist, then we should be congratulating him for his efforts and success rather than demonizing a perfectly legal practice.  If we don’t like this practice, then we should change the laws, not convict someone for following them.

Of course, that’s the argument Gingrich should be making, not trying to claim that Freddie paid him $25,000 a month to provide history lessons.  His choice of clients is, in retrospect, difficult to defend, too.  That’s a process argument, though, and not a policy argument.  Just as we shouldn’t pillory Mitt Romney for his success in the essential but painful capitalist practice of creative destruction, neither should we pillory Gingrich for making an honest living in the public-policy sphere.  Of course, since Gingrich is continuing to attack Romney on this basis …

Newt Gingrich took a dig at Mitt Romney and his tax returns in an appearance at the Univision candidate forum in Miami.

When asked about Romney’s position on immigration, Gingrich said that deporting all undocumented immigrants is unrealistic.

“You have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and making $20 million for no work, to have some fantasy this far from reality,” Gingrich said.

Greg Sargent says that “it’s still pretty remarkable that he’s now flat-out endorsing the Democratic argument about Mitt Romney’s offshoring and his massive no-work profiting off investments[.]“  Well, yeah.  There seems to be a lot of that going on in the Republican race this cycle.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

g2825m on January 25, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Only if he was actually sanctioned, and since when does someone have to produce evidence that he was innocent, when he was shown to be innocent?
Newt said that it was up to Mitt to produce his IRS records, but eventually laws will make him produce them…what law will force anyone to show evidence of “right doing” when there was no wrong?
What a weird thing to argue…looks like Mitt will have to prove he didn’t do something he didn’t do…good grief.
Innocent until proven innocent…the new standard.

right2bright on January 25, 2012 at 1:59 PM

How could Newt provide influence peddling when he didn’t have
any influence, seeing that the republicans kicked him out of
congress due to ethics violations? (forget that it was a repub
power grab and that he was cleared on all charges, even the IRS)

Amjean on January 25, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Please, logic will confuse the Mitt-wits…

right2bright on January 25, 2012 at 2:00 PM

I am so grateful for this post. Now I know that Newt is not only not a lobbyist, slandered by an increasingly desperate Romney; but also that Newt is an entrepreneur, owner and operator of a successful small business that not only makes money but also upholds the First Amendment in the process.

I must say I am also grateful to Byron York, whose article posted in the headlines today convinced me that Newt’s ethics problems resulted from a fraudulent, deeply partisan attack by desparate Democrats, and that Newt was completely exonerated!

I am certainly grateful to know that Marianne Gingrich is not a wronged woman but a bitter vengeful crone whose complaints about Newt are hypocritical because she cheated with him on his first wife.

I am very grateful to now know that a fearful, spineless Republican Establishment, in claiming that Newt was tossed out by his peers in the House because he was monstrously erratic, grotesquely egotistic, profoundly unorganized, and cost them the 1998 midterms, is also lying through its collective teeth. In fact, Newt fell on his sword, walking away in a moment of heroic self-abdication in the name of saving the party!

Thank God for the blogosphere. If I had to rely on the MSM, I would still think that their chosen candidate, Mitt Romney, had a chance against Obama. Now I, a self-described Tea Party guy, a believer in small government and liberty, who holds family and social values sacred, and who loathes the corrupt Washington game that is dragging down our sacred Republic, can vote for Newt with a clear conscience. The Truth will always win out!

Mr. Arkadin on January 25, 2012 at 2:01 PM

The worse sin is not the influence peddling. It is the lies to try to cover it up. Ask Nixon and BJ.

galtani on January 25, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Greg Sargent says that “it’s still pretty remarkable that [Gingrich is] now flat-out endorsing the Democratic argument about Mitt Romney’s offshoring and his massive no-work profiting off investments[.]“

I’m just going to come right out and say it: Newt Gingrich is Barack Obama in a fat suit.

Corrupt, lying Newt Gingrich has adopted the far left talking points from taxes (suggested that Romney wasn’t paying enough taxes, even though Romney paid millions in taxes last year), to attacking free enterprise (attacked Romney’s stellar business record), immigration (said Romney was “anti-immigrant” simply because Romney rejects illegal alien amnesty that Newt Gingrich supports.

Newt Gingrich seems like a plant by the Obama campaign. Obama hopese and prays that Newt Gingrich is the nominee, because if Newt is the nominee, then Obama easily wins in a landslide this November.

Pompous egomaniac Newt is a disgrace!

bluegill on January 25, 2012 at 2:52 PM

No Newt, Not Now or Ever! Newt Gingrich is a DISASTER!

bluegill on January 25, 2012 at 2:53 PM

My question is this: So what? Lobbying has a legal definition, and no one has accused Gingrich of actually violating the laws governing the practice. If Gingrich still could impact policy without breaking the law, why should he have refrained from doing so? Lobbying in general is a constitutionally protected practice, specifically mentioned in the First Amendment.

Who is accusing Newt of breaking the law? Let’s say he worked for Planned Parenthood. Would that make the issue more clear?

Ronnie on January 25, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Newt is a hypocritical, sanctimonious shiester who is being extremely disingenous when attacking Romney when he himself collected $1.6 Million from the failing Freddie Mac, paid in tax-payer dollars they received in the form of Bailout money! Newt may be giving voice to America’s anger, but Newt (as his own actions in the past has demonstrated) is far from a true Conservative.

easyt65 on January 25, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Ed, get off your bike before you jump the shark tank. The problem with it isn’t earning money in the practice. The problem is the hypocrisy of Gingrich railing against Washington insiders when clearly he is the ultimate Washington insider.

And moreover, it demonstrates his complete lack of understanding of our economy on a level with Obama. He was working for Freddie and Fannie in the midst of the crisis unfolding and had no idea it was going on. So why should we think he can fix it.

America wake up. We are careening of a cliff of debt. We have a debt to GDP ratio over 100%. We can’t simply grow our way out of it. Last year GDP growth didn’t even outpace inflation which means we didn’t grow at all.

Gingrich has no idea how to fix that problem. Romney barely acknowledges the problem. And Santorum, plan amount to tax breaks for manufacturing which is more central economic planning which is how we got here.

ReformedDeceptiCon on January 25, 2012 at 3:19 PM

These are 2 letters from the WSJ that I thought someone on this website should read. I don’t have permission to use the author’s names, so I won’t. The last one especially bells the cat about newt.

Mitt Romney did not forcibly take one dollar from me or anyone else in making his income and wealth. I am sure he is also paying more in taxes than the value of government services he is getting.

He went to college and has two advanced degrees. Most top 1 percenters have college degrees and many have graduate degrees, as opposed to most of the bottom 1 percenters who do not have college or high school degrees. He worked in a very competitive field at a job where the hours are long, no stopping at 40 hour workweeks in consulting, no overtime pay and no guaranteed weekends and holidays off, and the work and bosses are very demanding.

He is paying his legal amount of taxes.

He is what American opportunity is all about; get educated, learn skills, work hard, excel in a competitive industry, make money.

Am I jealous? Yes, somewhat.

Do I wish I had his income or wealth? Yes.

Is his money invested and helping our economy grow? Yes.

Nothing he does or has done has made the rest of us poor.

Our politicians and their hands in the til, our failed education policy and government run educational system, our overly generous benefits for union and government workers, our government regulations that stifle entrepreneurship and business formations and the lack of skills, motivation, discipline and drive in many of today’s workers have made many of us poorer than we ought to be

President Obama and many of the 99 percenters have an attitude that they are entitled and that society owes them something. Nobody automatically owes anybody anything.

Nothing done by Romney or in the way he made his money justifies the government, you or me taking more of his wealth or income than he already legally pays.

The government will waste the extra money on a failed education system, on more generous government worker benefits, on political paybacks disguised as subsidies, on incentives not to work, etc.

Letter #2

• Here we have an example of someone who is wildly successful, pays his taxes honestly, has disclosed more about his taxes than the rest of the Republican field combined, and at the end of the day pays more to the government than all the hecklers, Newt included.

On the other side of the ledger we have a candidate who insisted Romney must have something to hide, bragged he was disclosing his taxes to much public fanfare, but on closer examination has taken highly questionable, probably illegal tax positions, telling the IRS most of his income earned from speaking fees was “capital gains” and claiming a lower tax rate on that basis, when the IRS’s own publications and any tax adviser will tell you that’s bunk.

Who is hiding, who is lying, and which man deserves the public’s scorn?

And where is the WSJ story on Newt’s tax dodges?

Bambi on January 25, 2012 at 3:41 PM

There’s no way America is going to elect a President that helped Freddie Mac create the housing/debt bubble and subsequent crash.

FloatingRock on January 25, 2012 at 12:40 PM

LOL! The American people already elected a President that helped Freddie Mac create the housing bubble, Barack Hussein Obama. The largest recipient of Freddie Mac cash in both houses of Congress while he was a senator.

bgibbs1000 on January 25, 2012 at 4:07 PM

If Gingrich could operate a successful business in the public-policy sphere, a lifelong interest of his and one in which he has great expertise, without breaking the law or specifically becoming a lobbyist, then we should be congratulating him for his efforts and success rather than demonizing a perfectly legal practice. If we don’t like this practice, then we should change the laws, not convict someone for following them. Ed Morrissey

It’s not a matter of convicting him but rather recognizing his appalling lack of judgement and the fact he supported a mortgage policy which no competent conservative would have supported. Ed Morrissey thinks we should congratulate Gingrich for promoting and protecting from regulation the sub prime socialist scheme which nearly destroyed the banking system? Seriously, Ed? Seriously? With respect, you don’t get the significance of the Freddie Mac debacle or Gingrich’s role in it?

Newt Gingrich big supporter of the Freddie Mac model.

Later that month, Gingrich also gave a “feature interview” that appeared on Freddie Mac’s website providing an extensive Q&A where the former Speaker of the House defended the government-sponsored enterprise model, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO.

Gingrich went so far as to say that “I’m convinced that if NASA were a GSE, we probably would be on Mars today.

Basilsbest on January 25, 2012 at 4:09 PM

No, you proved that their is no line you will not cross in an attempt to win. Newt consulted with Freddie Mac…. BACK in 1999 – 2000. Long before Freddie Mac was looked upon as being an EVIL monstrous organization. In the 80′s and 90′s Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae were considered by the vast majority of Americans to be great companies.

By smearing Newt with the blood of dead babies you have only shown yourself to be a despicable person.

SWalker on January 25, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Sorry to burst your tiny bubble but Gingrich was calling Freddie Mac a great GSE in 2007.

Basilsbest on January 25, 2012 at 4:33 PM

The problem is not with lobbying — the problem is that the Federal Government has taken so much power from citizens and the states and grown so large and powerful that lobbying has any effect on our lived.

LifeTrek on January 25, 2012 at 5:06 PM

I don’t care if he calls himself a lobbyist or a “historian.” If his advice was anything other than, “Stop! For the love of God, stop doing what you’re doing! You will ruin the economy!” then his advice was bad and he should return the 1.6 million dollars to Freddie Mac. And then Freddie Mac should return the money to the American taxpayers. 1.6 million dollars! For what? They could have just listened to Ron Paul for free. Instead they listened to Newt and we had to bail them out to the tune of 154 BILLION DOLLARS! The question is: was Newt too stupid to see the truth, or is he just a scumbag who didn’t care how badly Freddie Mac was destroying our economy as long as he got his money?

TheChucker on January 25, 2012 at 8:02 PM

The question is: was Newt too stupid to see the truth, or is he just a scumbag who didn’t care how badly Freddie Mac was destroying our economy as long as he got his money?

TheChucker on January 25, 2012 at 8:02 PM

I’ll go with what is just a scumbag who didn’t care how badly Freddie Mac was destroying our economy as long as he got his money, Alex.

profitsbeard on January 25, 2012 at 10:23 PM

Who is accusing Newt of breaking the law? Let’s say he worked for Planned Parenthood. Would that make the issue more clear?

Ronnie on January 25, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Yes, that is clear! For Mittness, that is he met with natal and promised to be a stealth candidate for them in MA. For the mitt-bots the question to be answered, did Mittness have any back channel conversations with them or PP regarding 2012? If he did it before, he could be tempted to do it again. Watch his weasel words. Even Oboobi wants to make abortions rare, but has he done anything to make them rare?

Let the primaries battle on to the bitter end.

AH_C on January 25, 2012 at 11:34 PM

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