Newt Gingrich Denies Freddie Mac Accusations, Says 'Random Strange Person' Attacking His Marriage
MASON CITY, IOWA -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Tuesday denied reports that his $300,000 contract with Freddie Mac in 2006 was paid to him so he would stop Republican lawmakers in Congress from dismantling the government-sponsored mortgage giant.
"That’s not accurate," Gingrich said of a Bloomberg report that quoted unnamed former Freddie Mac officials. "I do no lobbying of any kind, and I offered strategic advice and that's all I do. I don't go to the Hill. I don't lobby in any way. I haven't for the years I've left the speakership, period."
But former Speaker of the House Gingrich (R-Ga.) did not say if he warned Freddie Mac of a looming housing crisis -- a defense he used when asked about his contract last week at a debate in Michigan. The Bloomberg story said Gingrich never warned Richard Syron, Freddie Mac's CEO at the time, of such an issue.
When asked if he had warned Freddie Mac about a housing bubble after he signed his contract with Freddie Mac in 2006, Gingrich said he did not know.
"I have no idea what the dates were. I offered strategic advice over a period of time. I did no lobbying of any kind. And I'm very happy to offer people strategic advice if they come and ask my advice," he said.
Earlier Tuesday, The Huffington Post's Amanda Terkel reached out to Freddie Mac for comment on what Gingrich did for the organization and whether or not, as he said, there was a confidentiality agreement preventing him from discussing the work. The housing giant declined to comment.
Gingrich has railed previously against Democratic lawmakers he claims helped cause the housing crisis by using Government Sponsored Enterprises such as Freddie Mac to hand out home loans to borrowers who could not afford them. He added Tuesday that he does not believe GSEs are inherently a bad idea.
"I personally think there are circumstances where Government Sponsored Enterprises are legitimate," Gingrich said. "You go back and look at the transcontinental railroad, you look at rural electric coops -- there are a lot of ways to organize activity in this country. So I was quite happy to talk about the GSEs, which was the question. But once you got into a cycle where people were literally giving mortgages to people with no credit at all, you don't have to be much of a historian to know that's not sustainable."
During the debate in Michigan last week, Gingrich said he wanted to privatize Freddie Mac and its sister organization, Fannie Mae.
"It's a good case for breaking up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and getting much smaller institutions back into the private sector to be competitive and to be responsible for their behavior," he said.
Gingrich also told HuffPost that he was aware of a flyer being distributed in Iowa that attacked him for previous infidelities, an incident first reported by Politico, but he brushed it aside.
"Look, this is a free society in which various random strangers can do many things," he said. "And I think if you read the flyer, it was clearly written by a random strange person. I don't worry very much about what happens in a free society."
The flyer purports to have been paid for by Iowans for Christian Leaders in Government. When asked a second time if he thought a political opponent or rival campaign had designed the flyer, Gingrich said, "It was worded too badly. None of the campaigns I know would have written it that badly."
Gingrich spoke with HuffPost after touring North Iowa Area Community College with his third wife, Callista. Callista Gingrich is mentioned in the flyer as a "young staffer" who carried on an extramarital affair with the then-House Speaker for several years before Gingrich divorced his second wife and married her.
At one point during the tour, Callista Gingrich mentioned to a college instructor that she had spent 11 years "as a staffer" on the House Agriculture committee.
"A lot of hearings," she said, as Newt shot a sideways glance her direction.