Newt Gingrich, the Republican presidential candidate with a penchant for luxury jets and Tiffany & Co. jewelry, also appears to demand top-notch accommodations when he travels for a speech.
The Smoking Gun Web site, which specializes in unearthing revealing documents, has posted a copy of a speaking gig contract apparently signed by Gingrich for an appearance at Missouri Western State University in October 2010.
The contract called for payment of “first class expenses,” including the hotel of Gingrich’s choice, and “first class airfare.” A Gingrich aide gets a smaller hotel room ”located nearby the suite, but not attached.” A contract addendum also notes that “Mrs. Gingrich” may sometimes travel with her husband and “will be needed to be seated beside Mr. Gingrich at all functions.”
Perhaps most curious was language requiring a “non-smoking one-bedroom suite (preferably with two bathrooms).” The Smoking Gun compared Gingrich’s “loo requirement” with “Mary J. Blige’s toilet seat proviso,” in which the singer required “a private toilet (with new toilet seat)” as part of her standard performance contract.
The Gingrich contract suggests that the former House speaker received $50,000 for the convocation event in Missouri, which is $10,000 shy of the amount that he has said he usually commands for speeches.
“I was charging $60,000 a speech, and the number of speeches was going up, not down,” Gingrich said recently.
Gingrich’s money-making and spending habits have become a central issue in the presidential race since he has risen to the top of the Republican field ahead of Mitt Romney. Gingrich amassed a $150 million financial empire after leaving Congress and is still trying to dig out from under a mountain of debt from private charter planes and other pricey expenses in the early weeks of his campaign.