Newt Gingrich loves to make sure everyone knows that he isn’t a lobbyist, but with Bloomberg News reporting that he made between 1.6 and 1.8 million consulting for Freddie Mac, Gingrich appears to be playing the semantic game.
When asked about his “lobbying” activity Gingrich is suspiciously vague.
First, he told CNBC that he was strictly a “historian” for Freddie Mac, making him one of the most well paid historians of all time. Plato’s account of Atlantis wouldn’t even fetch a price that high. Next, when asked on Fox News Channel about his consulting work Gingrich told Sean Hannity that he was just doing his civic duty.
” As a citizen, I’m allowed to have an opinion.” he said.
But most citizen’s aren’t paid millions of dollars for their “opinion”. And that “opinion” isn’t informed and connected to politicians and an insider culture of power elite. Bloomberg goes on to say (unfortunately with anonymous sources):
Former Freddie Mac officials familiar with his work in 2006 say Gingrich was asked to build bridges to Capitol Hill Republicans and develop an argument on behalf of the company’s public-private structure that would resonate with conservatives seeking to dismantle it.
Building bridges between politicians and the private sector is what lobbying is all about. In most job descriptions for historian there isn’t a bridge building clause. And with regards to the whole citizen defense, since when do any of us get paid to be citizens? If that’s a paying job sign me up.
Gingrich likes to walk a slimy rope between lobbyist and “citizen”. Ultimately he defends himself by saying that he is paid for opinions he already has, so the money doesn’t influence what he already believes. From the New York Times piece:
Referring to the health records issue Mr. Gingrich said, “I happen to believe if you’re traveling — as you do — and you get into a car wreck or have a stroke or something happens, we ought to be able to instantaneously access a record to know exactly what medicine you’re taking; to be able to provide you a treatment in the emergency room without risking killing you. I believe this very deeply,” he said.
He continued, “If Newt Gingrich believes that, happens to also be working with companies that care about that, and I go walk in to see friends of mine to talk about the issue, they’re responding to what Newt Gingrich believes. Because they know that I don’t go out and say ‘Tell me what you believe in — I’ll be for apples this week if you’ll pay me for apples.’ I walk in and say ‘Look, this is what I believe in.’”
The Colbert Report says it best:
Luckily for Gingrich a lot of very elite and wealthy people believe in the same things. What he doesn’t understand is that he is the poster boy for something that the everyday citizen doesn’t believe in: the revolting door culture of Washington. Whether Gingrich calls himself a lobbyist or not isn’t the real issue. Most people will look at Gingrich as a facilitator between private interest and members of Congress. So, from a citizen giving out my opinions for free I have to ask Gingrich: Where is my check?