Newt Gingrich's lucrative $300,000 consulting contract with mortgage giant Freddie Mac in 2006 — during the height of the housing bubble it was fueling — was geared toward stopping Republican support for new restraints on the guarantee of sub-prime mortgages, according to a November 15 report by Bloomberg News.
The controversy went public again during the CNBC debate November 9, when CNBC Host John Harwood asked Gingrich: "Your firm was paid $300,000 by Freddie Mac in 2006. What did you do for that money?"
Gingrich responded by denying he'd been a paid "lobbyist":
I have never done any lobbying. Every contract was written during the period when I was out of the office, specifically said I would do no lobbying, and I offered advice. And my advice as a historian, when they walked in and said to me, "We are now making loans to people who have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything, but that's what the government wants us to do," as I said to them at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible.
Of course, Harwood hadn't accused Gingrich of lobbying, and had only asked what he had done to earn the $300,000 contract. By knocking down the lobbying straw-man argument, Gingrich hoped to end the issue. But his "historian" remark only made those in the press more curious about what he'd done to earn this very substantial paycheck.
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Photo of Newt Gingrich: AP Images