Newt Gingrich can’t talk his way out of Freddie Mac tie

His former firm invents excuses not to release the former speaker's "consulting" contract

Topics: Newt Gingrich, Mortgage Crisis, Freddie Mac, 2012 Elections, Republican Party,

Newt Gingrich can't talk his way out of Freddie Mac tie (Credit: AP)

I bet, when he launched his presidential campaign in what I still assume was primarily an attempt to embarrass those who said he’d never actually do it, that Newt Gingrich did not think his greatest liability would be consulting for the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. No, he surely assumed it’d be the marriages, adulteries and divorces. Or even the climate change ad with Nancy Pelosi. But the one attack he has not been able to talk his way out of has turned out to be that he took a great deal of money from Freddie Mac, which, according to Republican lore, caused the financial crisis.

Freddie Mac paid Gingrich’s consulting firm at least $1.6 million for his time. Exactly how much — and how much went to Gingrich — is still unknown, because reporters haven’t seen the contract between Freddie Mac and Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation. Gingrich initially said Freddie Mac refused to waive a confidentiality agreement that would allow him to release the contract. But:

Freddie Mac officials said last week that Gingrich was “welcome” to release the contract, under which his consulting firm was paid at least $1.6 million over eight years for his services.

So Gingrich said it’s up to his partners at his former firm to release it. For some reason, a lawyer for Center for Health Transformation is still blocking the release. He wrote to Bloomberg News:

Even though Freddie Mac is willing to allow the document to be made public, allowing a release of the documents in this case might put the confidentiality of other Center for Health Transformation clients at risk, said Stefan Passantino, an attorney representing the firm.

“The risks of any kind of confidentiality waiver, even if the company tried to limit it to one client or one document, are too great to be feasible,” Passantino said in an e-mail yesterday. “A limited waiver is not possible and I am unable to authorize such a release.”

It’s just too risky! Other clients may accidentally waive their own confidentiality agreements and the world will learn how much Newt Gingrich bilked them for. Releasing just one specific document relating to one specific client could put the entire world at risk of an EMP strike, too. You can’t be too careful.

You Might Also Like

Gingrich is in the midst of his spite-driven campaign death spiral at the moment but he’s still loudly defending himself against the charge that he actually did what Freddie paid him to do, because that would, in the GOP interpretation of history, make him responsible for the entire recession.

Fannie and Freddie by no means “caused” the crisis — they entered the subprime game extremely late, the worst loans were made by the private sector, and the securitization of bad mortgages was the work of wholly Wall Street wizards — but the right-wing line against them has a grain of truth to it. Democratic insiders controlled Fannie and Freddie, and Fannie in particular threw money and favors at politicians in order to avoid facing or complying with tougher regulations (just like wholly private corporations do every day).

But the Gingrich role in this rankles the GOP in particular because it means they can’t simply blame Barney Frank and Barney Frank alone for the financial crisis. Gingrich was on the payroll to perform outreach to Republican lawmakers. The point of the influence-buying game is that it works best when it’s bipartisan.

Gingrich’s job was to get Republicans on board with the profit-maximizing strategies of the GSEs, and his own former chief of staff was Fannie’s senior vice president for regulatory policy (i.e., lobbying for looser regulations). No one could’ve predicted that they’d need the GSEs to be a handy scapegoat a few short years later.

Alex Pareene
Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>