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  • Key stories on the Gingrich probe

  •   IRS Clears Foundation That Aided Gingrich Course

    Associated Press
    Thursday, February 4, 1999; Page A05

    The Internal Revenue Service has cleared an organization of charges that it violated its tax-exempt status when it helped fund a college course taught by former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), the organization said yesterday.

    The IRS, concluding a three-year investigation, ruled that the Progress and Freedom Foundation's donations to Gingrich were "consistent with its stated exempt purposes," and Gingrich's course and course book "were educational in content."

    The foundation, which posted the IRS decision on its Web page, welcomed what it said was a "clean bill of health." An IRS spokesman said the agency is barred by law from commenting on rulings.

    "No one likes being audited by the IRS," said the foundation's president, Jeff Eisenach. "In this case, though, it was important for the IRS to resolve the questions raised by the House ethics investigation."

    In that investigation, special counsel James M. Cole concluded that Gingrich, in a class titled "Renewing American Civilization," which he taught at two Georgia colleges, was funded by tax-exempt charities for activities that were "substantially motivated by partisan, political goals."

    Gingrich denied violating tax laws and described his college course as nonpartisan. But he agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty for his misleading statements to the ethics committee as it investigated the financing of the college course and other issues.

    In its ruling, the IRS said the content of Gingrich's course "was educational and never favored or opposed a candidate for public office."

    It said the foundation "did not intervene on behalf of candidates of the Republican Party merely by promoting" themes in the course.

    The foundation, headquartered here, says it is dedicated to studying the digital revolution and its implications for public policy.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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