Newt Gingrich Is Not a Registered Lobbyist, He Just Acts Like One

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The New York Times continues to dig into Newt Gingrich's post-Congress career and discovered his solid track record of promoting companies that paid to be part of his health care consultancy. Firms that paid up to $200,000 a year to be members of Gingrich's "Center for Health Transformation" got access to legislators at the state and federal level and high-profile endorsements from the former Speaker of the House.

Gingrich and his aides insist that he never engaged in any actual lobbying, and that may be technically true. In fact, he appears to have gone to great lengths to ensure that he stayed on the right side of the regulations and laws governing the work of a professional registered lobbyist. Being seen officially labeled as a corporate shill, would obvious not help the prospects of anyone hoping to be president someday.

However, even if he never stumped for specific legislation or contracts — another claim that may be open to interpretation — it's clear that Gingrich's clients received unparalleled access to state and federal legislators and that Gingrich's presentations to those groups often featured favorable recommendations of the services his "members" could provide. For example, during a speech he gave to lawmakers in Georgia, Gingrich pointed out the money the state could save by hiring a company that happened to be a member of his group. It also appears that he didn't make it clear to those legislators that companies he mentioned were paying him.

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A Gingrich spokesperson says that the members of CHT "weren't paying him to do that," but that road quickly devolves into complicated web of semantics. Companies that made him wealthy got attention in Washington that they would not otherwise have received without his help. That may not meet the legal definition of lobbying, but it's clear that his access to Washington's power brokers was among the services that client companies paid for.

Even the claim that he was never paid to adopt a position that he did not already have seems dubious given certain contradictions between Gingrich The Businessman and Gingrich The Candidate. The CHT once pushed for a individual health care mandate that Gingrich now opposes on the campaign trail.

The one thing that is not in dispute, however, is that whether he was selling access, lobbying, or his own miraculous ideas, the business of government has made Newt Gingrich a very wealthy man.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.