Newt Gingrich spokesman Joe DeSantis confirmed to Right Turn that the following e-mail to “staff, surrogates and allies” with the subject heading “Subject: Talking Points — Freddie Mac” was sent out under his name:
1. Newt Gingrich welcomes scrutiny of his record in public office and as a small businessman. Newt believes that properly vetting the potential next president is absolutely necessary in a free society and that a properly vetted nominee for the Republican Party will better be able to defeat President Obama and lead our country in rebuilding the America we love.
2. Newt has never lobbied for Freddie Mac, or any client, nor has anyone in any of the organizations he founded after leaving office as part of their work with them. Newt made a decision after resigning that he would never be a lobbyist so that nobody would ever question the genuine nature of his advice and perspectives. This prohibition against lobbying was made very clear to all Gingrich Group clients and strict internal protocals were developed to prevent lobbying. Today’s Bloomberg article confirms that Gingrich and his firm did no lobbying for Freddie Mac.
3. Nor did Gingrich, as part of his contract, advocate against pending legislation affecting Freddie Mac, as Newt was accused of doing by the moderator at the CNBC debate in Michigan. This too was confirmed by the Bloomberg News article this morning.
4. Freddie Mac was a small part of the client and revenue base of The Gingrich Group and Newt’s various small businesses. The Gingrich Group offered strategic advice to a wide variety of clients about a wide variety of issues, including IBM, Microsoft, The US Chamber of Commerce and more. Gingrich Group fees were comparable to that of many consulting firms.
5. Newt is broadly favorable of the concept of Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE) but believes the financial crisis shows that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be broken up and their smaller successors be moved off of government guarantees and into the free market.
6. Newt also is in favor of efforts to increase home ownership in America but as a conservative believes it has to be within a context of learning how to budget and save in a responsible way, the opposite of the lending practices that led to the financial crisis.
DeSantis did not respond to my queries as to whether Gingrich rendered advice to Freddie about how it could appeal to conservative lawmakers or whether he regrets making two appearances at Fannie Mae events (both in 1995) touting its activities while he was still in office.
Well, at least we know what the script is. And we know the campaign recognizes the seriousness of the problem he has created for himself.
Notice that the talking points don’t say what Gingrich did do. That Gingrich didn’t go up to Capitol Hill to personally buttonhole members is actually irrelevant. In fact, he and many other pols were there to keep regulators at bay and maintain the lender’s image. All of that, and the continued viability of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, contributed to the meltdown of the housing industry. Moreover, there is no better example of the Washington insider game, one that benefits high-flying “consultants” and special interests, at the expense of taxpayers.