What Gingrich's Freddie Mac Ties Mean for Voters
Newt Gingrich says he never lobbied for Freddie Mac and under the law's narrow definition of lobbying, that may be true. But a contract released Monday by Gingrich's former consulting firm may give voters, who have a much broader, common-sense understanding of lobbying, pause.
The contract shows that the mortgage giant paid Gingrich $25,000 a month in 2006 to provide what he has called "strategic advice" to one of Freddie Mac's top lobbyists. And a clause requiring his firm to "perform services under this agreement in a highly professional manner consistent with the quality provided by other top firms providing comparable services in Washington" casts doubt on his original explanation that he was acting as a historian. Similar firms are generally not being hired for the historians they have on staff.
The contract leaves room for Gingrich to provide lobbying advice and strategy to one of Freddie Mac's top lobbyists, which is standard operating procedural among a number of former members of Congress who join Washington lobbying shops and don't regularly lobby members or staff themselves. It also leaves open the possibility of advising the mortgage giant on everything from legislative procedure to the personality dynamics driving a legislative debate.
An investigation by the New York Times last year found that Gingrich's role was to defend Freddie Mac from conservatives who wanted to take the mortgage giant apart.
Mitt Romney and his backers have attacked Gingrich for not being transparent about his relationship with Freddie Mac, which played a central role in the housing crisis. And Monday's disclosure did little to reveal what Gingrich did there. And it certainly did not put the issue to rest for Romney, who took another shot at Gingrich early in Monday night's debate.
"His contract with Freddie Mac was provided by the lobbyist of Freddie Mac," he said.