Reports from the campaign trail today indicate that Newt Gingrich is angrier today on the stump than at any time in this cycle. One reporter on Twitter said Gingrich went on an extended rant against Mitt Romney before starting his stump speech at a Florida morning venue. At least part of that anger comes from Romney’s attack on Gingrich over his ethics case in the mid-1990s as Speaker, as Gingrich explained to Sean Hannity last night (via Greg Hengler):
Greg also finds a CNN report from 1999 noting Gingrich’s complete vindication on the ethics charges by the IRS:
How exactly is Romney attacking Gingrich on this point? A bit passive-aggressively. Romney’s not actually claiming that Gingrich was guilty of the ethics charges, but he keeps demanding that Gingrich release the “full findings” of the investigation, as he did Monday:
Romney has also called on Gingrich to release the findings from an ethics probe that led the House to reprimand Gingrich and fine him $300,000 for improperly financing two projects and misleading the ethics committee, the first time a speaker was convicted of ethics violations.
“Of course he should,” release the full findings of the investigation, Romney told reporters on Friday, adding that “You know it’s going to get out before the general election.”
However, the person who led the probe says that all of the relevant material has already been released:
Romney’s request, however, would require the current Ethics Committee to vote to release any remaining supporting documents that were not part of the public report that came out in January 1997. According to Johnson, those documents would not include any additional material relevant to what is already online at the committee’s Web site. She added that the eight-member panel had an extensive amount of time to question Gingrich about any matter.
“The committee members had the freedom to question the witness as long as they had any unanswered questions,” Johnson said Monday.
It’s pretty lengthy, and it’s in image-scan format rather than text format, which makes it impossible to cut and paste material, but the report is most certainly there. Given the IRS’ exoneration, it’s pretty difficult to understand what else Romney needs to see, and it looks more like a cheap shot than a real campaign issue. Nothing’s being hidden, unless Romney wants to postulate that the IRS under Bill Clinton ignored evidence of guilt to exonerate Gingrich. Give this one a rest already.
Update: Romney’s campaign let this ad loose in Florida yesterday
If Bill Clinton’s IRS exonerated Gingrich, why are we still talking about this? And why are we using Nancy Pelosi as a guidepost in a Republican primary?