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Newton Leroy Gingrich
Republican, Georgia (1979-2000)
Well, where do we start?
Let's begin with wives and girl friends. Newt's first wife, Jackie Battley, was his high school teacher. Oh, let's not even go there! In a moment of subtlety and finesse, Newt appeared at his wife's side, while she was in the hospital battling cancer and allegedly brought out the yellow legal pad with his terms and conditions for their divorce.
Newt divorced wife number two, Marianne Gingrich, in 1999. Newt wanted to marry congressional staffer, Callista Bisek, with whom he'd been having a six-year affair. Newt got the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta to annul the second marriage to Marianne. Reason? Marianne had been married before. Voila! There's the annulment Newt needs to marry number three, Callista. "We were married 19 years, and now he wants to say it didn't exist," Marianne said, adding that neither she nor Gingrich are Catholic. [Check out what other wives are saying about their BadBoys]
Newt and Callista married in 2000.
Newt and Congress.
Newt holds the record of number of appearances before the House Ethics Committee, nine separate listings. To honor Newt, we've devoted an entire page in the Ethics Committee section to him.
Newt had his bitter enemies in Congress: the Honorable David Bonoir (Democrat-Michigan), the Honorable Barney Frank (Democrat-Massachusetts), John Lewis (Democrat-Georgia), Jim Wright (Democrat-Texas), to name a few prominent ones.
Wright, who was forced to resign under ethical clouds and was pursued eagerly by Gingrich, said this of Newt: "Gingrich is like an arsonist who torches the building without supposing that the flames could consume his own bedroom." [For other pearls of wisdom, check the Quote Board].
Here's some of the ethical stuff that got Gingrich into trouble.
Let's look at the canceled checks and money laundering (Tom De Lay, are you paying attention?). From the House Ethics Committee report: Gingrich backers would give money to his tax-exempt charity, the Abraham Lincoln Opportunity Foundation (ALOF), and then the ALOF would immediately give the money to Gingrich's nontax-exempt political action committee, GOPAC.
For example, in August 1991, Citizens Against Government Waste wrote a $37,000 check to ALOF; same day, ALOF writes a $37,000 check to GOPAC.
Aug. 16, 1992, Howard Callaway Foundation writes a $10,000 check to ALOF; its deposited five days later, and on the same day $10,000 check goes to GOPAC.
Aug. 14, 1992, the Grace Jones Richardson Trust writes a $25,000 check to ALOF; as soon as it clears ALOF writes a $25,000 check to GOPAC.
Such charitable and nonprofits can't give money directly to GOPAC, or they'd risk losing their own tax-exempt status. What did Gingrich have to say about it? He pleaded that he didn't know about the complexities. Right.
Newt's book: To Renew America
HarperCollins, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, offered Gingrich $4.5 million as an advance for a book in 1994. In the face of criticism, Gingrich decided not to take the advance, accepting just $1 and royalties that amounted to $1.2 million in 1995.
The Ethics Committee decided that Gingrich should be fined $300,000 for his own admitted acts of ethical violations. Gingrich, despite getting some healthy royalties, said he couldn't cough up the $300,000 on his own. Gingrich's old nemesis Bob Dole helped Newt out by loaning him $150,000.
Newt also had trouble with his college course, "Renewing American Civilization," taught at Reinhardt College in Georgia beginning in 1993. Georgia Democrat Ben Jones, who ran against Gingrich, asserted that the course was a thinly disguised political recruitment program that was improperly benefiting from federal tax-exempt status extended to educational programs. Gingrich is quoted in the New York Times as say the course came close to crossing the line between education and politics: "Goes right up to the edge," said Gingrich.
PBS did a show called the "Fall of Newt Gingrich," in 2000. But guess what? Newt's back, hawking his latest book, on conservative radio and television, e-mailing Karl Rove, Denny Hastert, other Republican luminaries. Gingrich Enterprises houses the Center for Health Transformation, a for-profit consulting group; a new Institute for Safety, Health, Prosperity and Freedom, and his personal public relations firm, Gingrich Communications.
The Pot Calling the Kettle Black
Right off the bat, when Jack Abramoff copped a guilty plea in early January, 2006, Newt was right there on television giving Republicans advice about how they'd better reform themselves.
Sources: Hanna Rosin, "The Newt Deal," Washington Post, January 30, 2005, D1; Duane Stanford, "Gingrich Out to Annul 2nd Marriage," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 10, 2002, D15; John Diamond, "Special Counsel Named by House Ethics Panel Investigating Gingrich," Chicago Sun-Times, December 23, 1995, 11; Lars-Erik Nielson, "'Check' It Out, Newt's Excuses Do not Add Up," New York Daily News, January 31, 1997, 33; "Off the Dole: Newt Cuts a New Deal to Pay Off $300,000 Ethics Penalty," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 20, 1997, A10.