Gingrich Avoiding Divorce Queries
By David Pace
Associated Press Writer
Monday, Sept. 27, 1999; 6:26 p.m. EDT WASHINGTON Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and a congressional aide named in his divorce proceeding are trying to avoid answering questions about their relationship from lawyers for Gingrich's wife.
In court papers filed Monday in Georgia, lawyers for Marianne Gingrich said the former speaker has "willfully failed and refused to answer virtually each and every interrogatory concerning his personal and professional relationships as well as the finances of his marriage."
And in motions filed in Superior Court for the District of Columbia, Callista Bisek, a clerk for the House Agriculture Committee, asked a judge last week to overturn a Georgia court order requiring her to appear Wednesday to answer questions from Mrs. Gingrich's lawyers about her relationship with the former speaker.
Court papers show that Mrs. Gingrich's lawyers posed 32 questions to Gingrich, including one about sexual relationships with other women. He answered parts of only two sets of questions dealing with the sources of his income and retirement plans.
Randy Evans, Gingrich's lawyer, said Georgia divorce law limits each side to 50 questions, and Mrs. Gingrich's lawyers posed more than 150 to Gingrich, when the 32 questions and their subparts are combined.
"We answered 50 and told them if they want more than that, they need to follow the rules," said Evans. "There has been no refusal to answer. It's just that we're going to go by the rules the best we can. Otherwise, this thing will spin out of control."
Evans characterized the accusations from Mrs. Gingrich's lawyers as "litigation saber-rattling."
John Mayou, attorney for Mrs. Gingrich, said Evans' attempt to invoke the 50-question rule is simply "a ploy not to answer legitimate questions." In his court filing, he described the position taken by Gingrich's lawyers as "preposterous and unsupported by any authority."
The dispute will be decided by a Superior Court judge in Marietta, Ga., after a hearing that has yet to be scheduled.
In asking a District of Columbia judge to block her testimony, Ms. Bisek argued that it would violate her constitutional right to privacy by allowing Mrs. Gingrich's attorneys "to rummage through every aspect of her personal life without any meaningful restrictions or limitations of any nature."
She also argued that she cannot be required to testify about her relationship with Gingrich under the constitutional prohibition against self-incrimination because adultery is a crime in the District of Columbia.
No hearing has been set on Ms. Bisek's motions, but her scheduled appearance Wednesday for questioning by Mrs. Gingrich's lawyers probably will be postponed until they are resolved.
The subpoena to Ms. Bisek requests documents and other items dating to January 1995, when Gingrich became speaker. They include cards, letters, e-mail and other correspondence between Ms. Bisek and Gingrich; gifts; Ms. Bisek's home and cellular phone records; records of loans, payments or gifts from Gingrich; photographs showing the two together; and any audio or video recordings of the two.
The subpoena also requests any clothes or other personal items Gingrich owns that Ms. Bisek has in her possession.
Gingrich, 56, separated from Marianne Gingrich, his second wife, after 18 years of marriage on May 10 and filed for divorce July 29. The Gingriches reached an agreement this month on how to temporarily split their assets until the divorce is final.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press