Nearly $5 million in debt, Gingrich launches debt-retirement effort

Newt Gingrich, who still had nearly $4.7 million in debt left from his 2012 campaign at the end of the year, is launching a new effort aimed at paying down that debt and helping conservative candidates across the country.

The Committee for America will raise money both to pay off the debt left in Gingrich's campaign committee and also for his American Legacy PAC, a political action committee that was formed in 2010.

Federal election law allows candidates to form so-called "joint fundraising committees" to raise money for multiple purposes, as long as they stay within contribution limits for all the groups. Launching a new effort allows Gingrich to give people something new to give to rather than simply asking them to retire his debt.

"The American Legacy PAC will use proceeds to fund federal candidates and provide online training material for conservative candidates," said Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond. "Newt 2012 will use proceeds to retire debt obligations incurred during the 2012 Republican presidential primary campaign."

Of course, donors may still be aware that a significant portion of the money they are giving is not going to candidates, but rather to help Gingrich pay off his campaign debt. While it's not unusual for candidates to go into debt, Gingrich went significantly further into debt than most.

The committee will hold its first fundraiser April 29, in Greenville, S.C. The event will be hosted by Thomas and Vivian Wong, Judge Billy Wilkins and Debra Wilkins, and former South Carolina congressman Judge John Napier.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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