"Congressmen are not bribed anymore," said Newt Gingrich during his first bid for Congress in 1974. "They simply have a lot of friends who are willing to help them out whenever they find it necessary." Democrats are resurrecting that quote as Gingrich faces charges, filed by Bill Alexander (D-Ark.) with the House ethics committee in April, that accuse Gingrich of 10 violations of House rules. Allegations concern promotion of his 1984 book, "Window of Opportunity," paid for by political supporters and constituents, several of them with an interest in legislation. The ethics committee has not yet indicated whether it will launch an investigation of Alexander's complaint. A recent New York Times editorial critical of the deal is "mindless," says Gingrich; he calls the ethics charge a "clumsy smear." Conceding the arrangement was "weird," he insists that the $105,000 book promotion deal -- 21 donors contributed $5,000 each -- was ethical. The partnership money was used to advertise the book and pay for Gingrich's promotional tour. At an April press conference with his wife Marianne, Gingrich said he had taken extra care to make the venture legal. "Any contact that was made regarding this partnership had to be done by me," interjected Marianne Gingrich, who was managing partner of the limited partnership. Although Gingrich said he "did no substantive work" on the partnership, he did cosign at least one letter to publisher Jim Baen regarding promotional details. Asked about this recently, Gingrich said, "I'd have to go back and look at it." Gingrich became testy whenquizzed at the press conference about his investors, many of whom have a direct interest in legislation. "What kind of childish games are we playing?" he replied. "It was not sold as a tax shelter. That would be illegal. ... I have no economic interest in the partnership -- period." Had the book made money, the congressman -- as well as the partners -- would have benefited from the investors' boost. Gingrich says he coauthored "Window of Opportunity" with his wife and David Drake, but the book jacket's "about the author" note is about Gingrich alone. (The cover reads, "By the honorable Newt Gingrich, chairman of the congressional space caucus, with David Drake and Marianne Gingrich.") The original manuscript of "Window" was regarded as such an editorial disaster at Baen Publishers that two editor-writers were summoned for a rescue effort. Janet Morris, who did the final editing, said, "We took out many inflammatory and ill-considered Southern regional positions -- such as 400 references to secular humanism." Morris says she wrote the chapter on space, which has received some praise by experts. The promotional backers -- among them beer billionaire Joseph Coors -- invested "in a business venture," says Gingrich. However, some have told reporters they had not expected to make a profit. The book would have had to sell 50,000 more copies for the partners to have recouped their initial investment. As it turned out, the book partnership lost more than $100,000 during the book's first five years, and investors got tax write-offs. Marianne Gingrich was paid $10,000; she speaks passionately and in detail about her contribution to the partnership, and of her initial conceptualization of some of the book's themes. Marianne Gingrich believes congressional spouses are "extremely disadvantaged" in the workplace. She sympathizes with Betty Wright, who was scrutinized along with her husband Jim Wright by the ethics committee -- "this feeling among wives crosses party lines," she says. A larger question is whether the $105,000 constituted a gift to Gingrich. His stock answer is that it did not. But, Gingrich was asked, what about investors who say they never considered this a business deal? Should their donations be considered gifts? "Well," Gingrich said in a recent interview, "if you were to go to a very wealthy investor in plays and say, 'How many do you invest in that will make money?' they will say, 'Well, you always hope. But I like the play.' And that's what they {the investors} were saying. 'I like the book.' " Critics charge that the deal should be regarded as self-promotion and as a case of putting the arm on supporters and constituents for help in a business deal. If the same investors had put up money for a half-hour television show where Gingrich promoted his ideas, critics ask, would that constitute a gift? Gingrich says, "I'm sure the committee will take depositions and we'll see what they say under oath. I think they'll say they did not regard it as a charitable contribution but as a high-risk investment." But the Democrats are not letting up. "There is a pattern here," says Rep. Beryl Anthony Jr. (D-Ark). Last year the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, chaired by Anthony, accused a Gingrich-headed PAC (Conservatives for Hope and Opportunity) of mail fraud and asked the Postal Service to investigate. Nine days later, CHO notified the Federal Election Commission that it had stopped fund-raising because the PAC "cannot get out of debt." At that time, CHO treasurer Robert Weed conceded, "we realized about the middle of 1986 that we were going to crash." Anthony argued, "Why did they continue to make claims to donors that their money was going to candidates -- if they knew that CHO was a failure in 1986?" He was referring to a letter signed by Gingrich at the time the PAC was in financial trouble, assuring a prior contributor that his earlier donation "has been put to work helping CHO fund conservatives running for office." Gingrich answered that this was just another "smear" by the Democrats, but he has acknowledged that "it is conceivable that we were too enthusiastic" in the wording of the fund-raiser. CHO raised $217,000 for its stated purpose of electing conservatives to Congress. But it spent only $900 on campaigns and $2,100 on Gingrich's personal travel expenses. While the original FEC complaint became moot after the PAC stopped raising funds, the Democrats continue to hammer at the disposal of the bulk of the money. Gingrich said the $214,000 was used to pay direct-mail costs. A third Gingrich deal the Democrats have revived involves a group of prominent Republican businessmen who in 1977 created a corporation for Gingrich and funded it with $13,000. The money paid for a trip to Europe for Gingrich and his family prior to the 1978 campaign, in which he won his first election to the House. Gingrich says he was researching a novel about the Russians invading Western Europe. His congressional opponent last year, David Worley, charged that the money was "nothing more than a slush fund" set up by Gingrich's "fat-cat supporters to send him on a European vacation and pay his mortgage while he was running for Congress." Gingrich says there was no impropriety and that he was not in Congress at the time. Lee Howell, a reporter who worked for Gingrich and was a close friend at the time, recalls that Gingrich told him, " 'Jackie and I are going to go to Europe.' I asked how he was going to do that and he said, 'Well, some people are raising some money for me. It's all legal.' "He talked about a book but Newt said, 'I don't know a lot about writing. I'm going to have to get someone to edit my stuff.' He got around to talking about characters but never wrote it." Other friends who saw a few chapters told Gingrich that his future would not be as a novelist. No book ever materialized.