The vetting of Newt Gingrich has begun and there are some big red flags

(A hat tip must be given to Mike Gamecock Devine and his post he wrote earlier.  I wanted to expand on it by highlighting some other things that have come up.  I figured if I had made this whole thing in the comments on his thread, that could pose a problem :) )

It’s been fun to watch some Romney supporters vent their ill-advised frustration at the conservative base not getting behind Mitt Romney.  In all reality, I think Mitt Romney has become the choice of default nominee if no other candidates are considered viable.  Now it is Newt’s turn to get thrown into the crucible.  Much has been made about Newt’s marital infidelity, most notably, having an affair while Clinton was getting impeached for his actions reeks of brazen hypocrisy.  However, I am willing to accept his apology for his past actions of this nature.

The opening vetting salvo has been in regards to Newt’s paid “consulting” work with Freddie Mac.

Newt has been adamant in his denial of lobbying ever.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me…

GINGRICH: I do no lobbying of any kind. I never have. A very important point I want to make. I have never done lobbying of any kind.

Not so fast.  You’re not off the hook yet.  The first link cited an article written by Tim Carney at the Washington Examiner.  Fox Nation left out a very key section of that article which I want to highlight here.

Three former Republican congressional staffers told me that Gingrich was calling around Capitol Hill and visiting Republican congressmen in 2003 in an effort to convince conservatives to support a bill expanding Medicare to include prescription-drug subsidies. Conservatives were understandably wary about expanding a Lyndon Johnson-created entitlement that had historically blown way past official budget estimates. Drug makers, on the other hand, were positively giddy about securing a new pipeline of government cash to pad their already breathtaking profit margins.

One former House staffer told me of a 2003 meeting hosted by Rep. Jack Kingston where Gingrich spoke. Kingston would regularly host “Theme Team” meetings with a few Republican congressmen and some of their staff. Just before the House vote, Gingrich was the special guest at this meeting, and he brought one message to the members: Pass the drug bill for the good of the Republican Party.

Conservatives were worried about the potential for cost overruns, and about the credibility of their limited-government arguments if they passed this new entitlement bill. “Every concern that members raised,” the former House staffer told me, “Gingrich would respond with a poll number.” Gingrich invoked the American Express motto “Don’t Leave Home Without It,” and told Republicans they could not afford to go home for recess without some Medicare drug bill — regardless of the content.

Two aides to other GOP members who had been resisting the bill told me their bosses were lobbied by Gingrich over the phone, sometimes citing politics, sometimes citing substance. And it worked. “Newt Gingrich moved votes on the prescription-drug bill,” one conservative staffer told me. “That’s for sure.”

Contemporaneous reporting confirms this: The Washington Post reported in 2003 that Gingrich addressed a closed-door meeting of conservative Republicans, pushing them to back the bill.

Ah yes, influencing conservatives to sell out their principles in the hopes of getting re-elected later and to retain the GOP’s majority.  That didn’t work out so well in 2006 and 2008 did it?

So Gingrich can be considered a non-lobbyist only by the same narrow definition of “lobbyist” President Obama uses: someone registered with the House and Senate under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. This is how Obama can claim to reject lobbyist contributions while taking money from vice presidents of government affairs and the like.

But that still doesn’t excuse Gingrich’s false statement that he has “never done lobbying.”

The law that defines “lobbyist” also defines “lobbying activity,” which includes all “lobbying contacts.” Someone makes a “lobbying contact” when he makes “any oral, written or electronic communication to a covered official [such as a congressman] that is made on behalf of a client with regard to … the formulation, modification, or adoption of Federal legislation.”

So if Gingrich is going to rely on a legalism to claim he’s not a lobbyist, that same legalism defines him as engaged in “lobbying,” which he has denied.

His only conceivable out: Yes, he was a consultant helping drug companies pass this bill, but when he was persuading conservatives to back the bill, that was on his own time, and out of his own personal convictions — and it had nothing to do with the drug industry cash he was receiving at the time.

This is an ancient political tactic of telling the truth “technically”.  My definition of lobbying is you’re simply paid to influence public servants by a select consortium of companies/lobbying firms whom represent companies that want legislation written to benefit them and in many cases, suppress their competition.  This is what happens when government stops being a government for the people and starts being a government for sale to the highest bidder.

Newt is telling the truth.  He didn’t do any lobbying for them, he only identified lobbying targets for Freddie Mac.  Maybe the statement should be “I never did any lobbying, I only showed them how to lobby.”

Washington isn’t broken.  Washington is abominably corrupt on both sides of the aisle and Newt certainly seems to have been a part of that. What is clear is Newt is worried about his standing with the conservative base.  Something like this has the potential to derail his candidacy.

Term limits for congressmen anyone?



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