Newt Gingrich Responds To Questions Over Freddie Mac Payments
Newt Gingrich is on the defensive following revelations that he received huge payments in the past decade from federally backed mortgage giant Freddie Mac. According to an ex-Freddie Mac official, Gingrich was paid roughly $1.5 million between 1999 and 2007 for consulting work.
The Christian Science Monitor reported: "Speaking with reporters in , Gingrich said he provided 'strategic advice for a long period of time' after he resigned as House speaker following his party's losses in the 1998 elections. He defended Freddie Mac's role and said, 'every American should be interested in expanding housing opportunities.' Long unpopular among Republicans, the federally backed mortgage lender has become a focal point of anti-government sentiment because of the housing crisis."
CBS News has more:
the candidate says he isn't worried his association with the now government-controlled firm makes him look like a Washington "insider" -- if anything, he said Wednesday on CBS News radio, he embraces the label.
"There's no question when you serve 20 years in the House and as speaker of the House for four years, you know a fair amount about Washington," Gingrich told CBS News radio correspondent Dan Raviv. "We just tried an amateur for the last three years, and it didn't work very well... The country would be better off with someone determined to change Washington and who knows how to do it."
Gingrich also told reporters that he had warned Freddie Mac about its risky business practices prior to the 2008 financial crisis.
The Republican presidential candidate faced questions about his ties to Freddie Mac during last week's GOP debate in Michigan. Gingrich was asked what he had done to earn the $300,000 in payments he received from the federally backed mortgage lender.
His response: "I offered them advice on precisely what they didn’t do. My advice as a historian, when they walked in and said to me, ‘We are now making loans to people who have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything, but that’s what the government wants us to do.’ As I said to them at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible.”
Bloomberg News was the first to report that Gingrich's contract was actually worth a lot more than the amount he was asked about in the debate. The report also details Gingrich's role in relation to the company.
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.
He was expected to provide written material that could be circulated among free-market conservatives in Congress and in outside organizations, said two former company executives familiar with Gingrich’s role at the firm. He didn’t produce a white paper or any other document the firm could use on its behalf, they said.
The questioning comes at a time when the former House Speaker has seen his stock rise in the Republican presidential race. The latest polls now show Gingrich at or near the top of the GOP field.
Watch Newt Gingrich respond to questions over his ties to Freddie Mac: