Can Newt Gingrich Justify His $1.6 Million Payday?

By Conor Friedersdorf

The former House Speaker reportedly made at least that much 'consulting' for Freddie Mac

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Bloomberg Businessweek is reporting that Newt Gingrich "made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac," and that his work didn't involve lobbying. That's curious. Aside from his influence, I can't think of anything the man has to sell the Federal Home Lone Mortgage Corporation that's worth seven figures, even over a period of years. Here's how Mitchell Delk, Freddie Mac's chief lobbyist, explains the relationship: "I spent about three hours with him talking about the substance of the issues and the politics of the issues, and he really got it... what the benefits are to communities, what the benefits could be for Republicans and particularly their relationship with Hispanics."

I'll bet I could post an ad on Craigslist Washington DC and find a recent Ivy League grad willing to work for $30 grand a year who understands the substance and politics of mortgage subsidies.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Gingrich really did provide this government sponsored entity with $1.6 million worth of something. If so, he should explain what it was. That isn't so hard, is it? He did the work, after all. As yet, his explanation is that he served as a "historian." If that's the best he can do, he should give the money back. He's certainly under no legal obligation to do so. It's nevertheless time for Americans to start suggesting that folks who can't justify the riches they've accrued via their insider connections develop a sense of shame and fork over their loot.

A radical idea, isn't it?

But I'm sure he has a perfectly good explanation.

Your move, Gingrich.

Image credit: Reuters

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/11/can-newt-gingrich-justify-his-16-million-payday/248554/