Ethics Committee Drops Last of 84 Charges Against Gingrich
By Curt Anderson
Sunday, October 11, 1998; Page A13
The House ethics committee dropped the three remaining ethics charges against Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) yesterday, despite finding that Gingrich repeatedly violated one rule by using a political consultant to develop the Republican legislative agenda.
The ethics panel decided to take no further action because there is no evidence that "Rule 45" violations are continuing in the speaker's office, a post Gingrich has held since 1995. Consultant Jeffrey Eisenach's work took place while Gingrich was the GOP minority whip in 1990-91.
Gingrich was elected speaker after Republicans took control of the House.
"The committee believes you have been adequately informed and cautioned on Rule 45 issues and anticipates full compliance in the future," said Rep. James V. Hansen (R-Utah), the panel's chairman, and Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.) in a letter to Gingrich.
The committee decision came near the close of the House session as lawmakers hurried to clear languishing business and return to their districts to campaign for next month's election.
Eisenach was a paid consultant to GOPAC, a Republican political group formerly chaired by Gingrich, according to the letter.
Gingrich is paying $300,000 for the costs of an ethics committee investigation after admitting last year he made inaccurate statements during a lengthy probe into Democratic allegations that he misused tax-exempt donations. Gingrich denied the charges but submitted to a reprimand by the House.
In a brief interview, Gingrich said he felt a "big sense of relief" now that the four-year investigation is over.
"It ends a chapter. Let's go on to other things," he said.
The speaker's office issued a statement noting that yesterday's dismissal of the last three charges means that 83 of the 84 ethics allegations filed by Democrats have been dropped.
The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, as the ethics panel is formally known, also decided to defer to a federal judge's decision to dismiss an allegation that GOPAC improperly subsidized Gingrich's 1990 reelection campaign.
U.S. District Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer in 1996 threw out a Federal Elections Commission lawsuit contending that GOPAC broke election laws by assisting federal candidates and not making its donor lists and spending reports public.
The ethics panel was "persuaded by the court's findings" that the laws were not violated, Hansen and Berman wrote.
"It appears to us that to the extent that GOPAC was exonerated by the court, you are by implication exonerated as well," they wrote to Gingrich.
A third allegation that Gingrich benefited personally from $250,000 in GOPAC "Newt Support" and should have reported it as income for federal tax purposes was also dropped by the ethics committee for lack of evidence.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press