On “The Laura Ingraham Show” this morning, Newt Gingrich reiterated what he said in the CNBC debate last Wednesday: He has never lobbied for Freddie Mac. He didn’t dispute that he received a significant sum of money for his advice, but reminded listeners that such high fees are common in the consulting world.
“I was perfectly happy to work on the question, ‘What do government-sponsored enterprises do?'” Gingrich said. “I did no lobbying. I did not reach out to Capitol Hill. I was not directly engaged in that way. I gave them advice on what they can do.”
That advice, he said, might have included suggesting who to talk to on Capitol Hill — but he himself did not make connections between Freddie Mac and legislators, he said.
When Ingraham read Bloomberg’s description of the role Gingrich played for the mortgage company, Gingrich responded, “Well that may have been what they asked, but that’s not what I did, not what I’ve ever done.”
Instead, he said, he was to Freddie Mac what he is to anyone he advises: a historian.
“I think like a historian,” Gingrich said. “My PhD is in history. I’ve written books on history. When I see a problem, my first thought is to think, ‘What are other parallels? When did we see this in history?'”
He emphasized that Gingrich Group has offered advice to plenty of enterprises and that his fee was reasonable.
“A number of people found it useful to get our advice,” he said. “We consulted with many companies … All of those folks [in the consulting space] charge a fairly large amount of money.”
He wouldn’t necessarily recommend that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to pay such exorbitant consulting fees. Instead, he said again, he’d recommend they be broken up.
“I would recommend as a matter of public policy that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be broken up,” he said. “They’re too big [and] they involve too much risk. There’s too much financial exposure.”
Gingrich did concede that he likely wouldn’t have received the consulting gig if he had not been Speaker of the House, but stressed that he worked with Freddie Mac long after he entered the private sector.
In general, he seemed unfazed by the increased scrutiny — which has come in other forms, as well. In Iowa, at least one social conservative group has begun to attack his messy personal past, with ads that ask, “Is nothing sacred to Newt?”
But most of his detractors have had anonymity in common: Even the Bloomberg reports cited no names. (As Ingraham scoffed on her show, “This is the way journalism is these days.”)
Gingrich responded to critics of his past: “The fact that some anonymous group puts out an absurd document doesn’t change what I’ve said and doesn’t change me. … This is part of the process.”