Gingrich received $60,750 from JLL through a contract with the Washington Speakers Bureau, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by Bloomberg News. The fee included the “cash equivalent” of two first-class plane tickets, meals and lodging at the Mandarin Oriental, a New York hotel.
The contract obligated Gingrich to deliver an hour-long presentation with a question-and-answer session and join the firm for dinner at an upscale steakhouse. He spoke to almost 100 people, including firm executives, chief executives of JLL’s portfolio companies and other investors.
Levy’s revelation set off new criticism of the former House speaker in the primary campaign in South Carolina, where Gingrich is raising questions about front-runner Romney’s term as chief executive of private-equity firm Bain Capital. The Romney campaign sent out a news release highlighting the Bloomberg TV interview with Levy.
Meanwhile, in a morning conference call with reporters, some of Gingrich’s former House colleagues warned against his nomination, saying he is a “negative force” whose actions and comments would deflect attention from President Obama’s record in the general election.
“When the focus is Newt, the Republican Party loses,” said Susan Molinari, a former representative from New York who is backing Romney. “He has not changed and become more disciplined.”
Former senator Jim Talent (Mo.), another Romney supporter who also served in the House, said Gingrich has “attacked Bain Capital in a way that he’s admitted was factually inaccurate” and is “using the language of the left.”
Gingrich said in an interview that there is no discrepancy between his comments during the campaign and his remarks to the JLL meeting in 2009. He said private-equity investors such as Levy, who see his critique of Bain as an attack against their industry, are “interpreting it wrong.”
His campaign spokesman, R.C. Hammond, said the former Georgia congressman takes issue with Romney’s work at Bain, not the entire industry.
“Newt isn’t going out and attacking capitalism,” he said. “What we’ve pointed out is the character and leadership that Romney made as the head of a company.”
Gingrich has cast Romney as an executive more interested in maximizing profits than creating or retaining jobs.
“What I’ve done is raised questions about the judgment and values of one person who’s running for president,” Gingrich told reporters in Winnsboro, S.C., on Wednesday. “That should not be confused with critiquing capitalism.”