We already knew Newt Gingrich doesn’t lack for chutzpah. But this looks like a whole new level…
Back when Congress was debating the bailout package this fall, Gingrich was bravely sounding the alarm about the nefarious influence wielded in Washington by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Here he is talking to Bill O’Reilly on Fox News in late September:
One of the provisions that I wanted to put into any kind of financial package is that no company that gets money from the Treasury in this process be allowed to hire a lobbyist. I mean, what you have today is that the rich in Wall Street and the powerful at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had so many politicians beholden to them that, in fact, nobody was going to check them. And so they got away with things that were absolute bologna, and it’s a tragedy.
Gingrich was particularly vocal about some Democratic politicians’ ties to Fannie and Freddie:
In Dodd’s case, he is the largest single recipient of money from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Barack Obama was No. 2. The fact is that to have Dodd preside over writing this bill, I think, is absolutely disgusting. I am appalled that Harry Reid appointed him to sit in there. But it is the nature of politics up there right now. And I think it’s very, very bad for the country.
Now, one of the major reasons that Fannie and Freddie had “so many politicians beholden to them”, of course, is that they hired people to work those politicians and to make public arguments that dovetailed with Fannie and Freddie’s interests. And one of the people they hired, it turns out, was Gingrich.
The Associated Press reports today that in 2006, Freddie Mac paid the former House Speaker $300,000 to help fight off potential regulation. “Gingrich talked and wrote about what he saw as the benefits of the Freddie Mac business model,” says the wire service.
So, in Gingrich world: Democratic politicians getting campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie — bad! Republican lobbyists getting paid by Fannie and Freddie to make the case against regulating the mortgage giants: good!
It’s nice to be Newt…