Newt's Finest Lobbyist Denials

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Newt Gingrich deserves a pat on the back for the increasingly diverse ways he's attempted to dissociate himself from the lobbying profession. In Today's New York Times, the paper meticulously lays out the various instances in which he earned millions of dollars helping businesses promote services and gain access to public officials via his health care consultancy Center for Health Transformation. By definition, the former House speaker was a lobbyist, notes Politico's Ben Smith after hauling out the terms of Lobbying Disclosure Act, which defines the practice as "any efforts in support of such contacts, including preparation or planning activities, research and other background work that is intended, at the time of its preparation, for use in contacts and coordination with the lobbying activities of others." But because he hasn't had to officially register as a lobbyist, Gingrich has denied any connection to the occupation (a loophole President Obama has taken advantage of as well). Behold, the immensely creative ways Gingrich has side-stepped and explained away his lobbying activities:

  • I wasn't a lobbyist, I was a "strategic advice"-giver: In an interview with Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on Nov. 17, Gingrich had to respond to allegations that he lobbied for mortgage giant Freddie Mac. "I never have. A very important point I want to make — I have never done lobbying of any kind," he said. "I was approached to offer strategic advice."
  • I wasn't a lobbyist, I was a celebrity At a campaign event at a shopping center in South Carolina Tuesday, Gingrich denied doing any lobbying noting that he was a highly-demanded speech-giver at the time. He referred to himself as a celebrity. "Normally, celebrities leave and they gradually sell fewer speeches every year. We were selling more," he said.
  • I wasn't a lobbyist, I only promoted activities I believed in At that same event, Gingrich emphasized that his business network which supported issues such as digital medical records, never led him to support issues he didn't personally support—a distinction he suggested conflicted with the job of lobbying.  "If I didn't like the issue, I didn't deal with it," Gingrich said "If I didn't agree with you, I didn't say it."
  • I wasn't a lobbyist, I was a historian During CNBC's Republican debate in early November, John Harwood asked Gingrich about his work for Freddie Mac, which Gingrich cleverly described as "historian" work that earned him $300,000 (the actual sum would be much higher).  “I have never done any lobbying ... I offered advice ... Advice as a historian."
  • I wasn't a lobbyist, I was just worried about the nation's national security In a letter to the Wall Street Journal in February, Gingrich addressed the issue of his work for an ethanol lobbying group. "I am not a lobbyist for ethanol, not for anyone. My support of increased domestic energy production of all forms, including biofuels and domestic drilling, is born out of our urgent national security and economic needs. It is in this country's long-term best interest to stop the flow of $1 billion a day overseas, in particular to countries hostile to America."
  • I wasn't a lobbyist, because I didn't even need the money The Hill's Jonathan Easley reports today on another campaign trail excuse for Gingrich. He says he never lobbied anyone "because he 'was charging $60,000 a speech' and didn’t need the money." The former speaker said “For a practical reason — and I’m going to be really direct, OK? I was charging $60,000 a speech and the number of speeches was going up, not down.”

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