X. Summary of Facts Pertaining to Use of Unofficial Resources
The Subcommittee investigated allegations that Mr. Gingrich had improperly utilized the services of Jane Fortson, an employee of the Progress in Freedom Foundation ("PFF"), in violation of House Rule 45, which prohibits the use of unofficial resources for official purposes.
Ms. Fortson was an investment banker and chair of the Atlanta Housing Project who had experience in urban and housing issues. In January 1995 she moved to Washington, D.C., from Atlanta to work on urban and housing issues as a part-time PFF Senior Fellow and subsequently became a full-time PFF Senior Fellow in April, 1995.
The Subcommittee determined that Mr. Gingrich sought Ms. Fortson's advice on urban and housing issues on an ongoing and meaningful basis. During an interview with Mr. Cole, Mr. Gingrich stated that although he believed he lacked the authority to give Ms. Fortson assignments, he often requested her assistance in connection with urban issues in general and issues pertaining to the District of Columbia in particular. The investigation further revealed that Ms. Fortson appeared to have had unusual access to Mr. Gingrich's official schedule and may have occasionally influenced his official staff in establishing his official schedule.
In her capacity as an unofficial policy advisor to Mr. Gingrich, Ms. Fortson provided ongoing advice to Mr. Gingrich and members of Mr. Gingrich's staff to assist Mr. Gingrich in conducting official duties related to urban issues. Ms. Fortson frequently attended meetings with respect to the D.C. Task Force during which she met with Members of Congress, officials of the District of Columbia, and members of their staffs. Although Mr. Gingrich and principal members of his staff advised the Subcommittee that they perceived Ms. Fortson's assistance as limited to providing information on an informal basis, the Subcommittee discovered other occurrences which suggested that Mr. Gingrich and members of his staff specifically solicited Ms. Fortson's views and assistance with respect to official matters.
The Subcommittee acknowledges that Members may properly solicit information from outside individuals and organizations, including nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Regardless of whether auxiliary services are accepted from a nonprofit or for-profit organization, Members must exercise caution to limit the use of outside resources to ensure that the duties of official staff are not improperly supplanted or supplemented. The Subcommittee notes that although Mr. Gingrich received two letters of reproval from the Committee on Standards regarding the use of outside resources, Ms. Fortson's activities ceased prior to the date the Committee issued those letters to Mr. Gingrich. While the Subcommittee did not find that Ms. Fortson's individual activities violated House Rules, the Subcommittee determined that the regular, routine, and ongoing assistance she provided Mr. Gingrich and his staff over a ten-month period could create the appearance of improper commingling of unofficial and official resources. The Subcommittee determined, however, that these activities did not warrant inclusion as a Count in the Statement of Alleged Violation.
Other Sections of the Gingrich Ethics Report
I. Introduction II. Summary of Facts Pertaining to American Citizens Television III. Summary of Facts Pertaining to "Renewing American Civilization" IV. Ethics Committee Approval of Course V. Legal Advice Sought and Received VI. Summary of the Report of the Subcommittee's Expert VII. Summary of Conclusions of Mr. Gingrich's Tax Counsel VIII. Summary of Facts Pertaining to Statements Made to the Committee IX. Analysis and Conclusion X. Summary of Facts Pertaining to Use of Unofficial Resources XI. Availability of Documents to Internal Revenue Service Appendix