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Newt Gingrich Praised Private Equity When Paid $60,750 To Deliver Speech

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 01/18/2012 10:22 am Updated: 01/18/2012 12:58 pm

Although he's attacked rival Mitt Romney for his time spent at private equity firm Bain Capital, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich praised private equity "fulsomely" two years ago when he was paid to speak in front of private equity firm JLL Partners, according to the firm's founder and managing director, Paul Levy.

"Newt Gingrich spoke at my annual meeting two years ago -- we paid him $40,000 -- and this gentleman praised private equity more fulsomely than I could ever do it," Levy said on Bloomberg TV Wednesday. "I can give you a copy of the check. We paid to the Washington Speakers Bureau for Newt Gingrich to come and speak. He was great. He gave a great evening. Everybody had fun. He fielded a lot of questions. He gave us a lot of time. But nobody praised private equity, risk taking, capital more fulsomely than Newt Gingrich."

Bloomberg obtained the contract for his speech, revealing that Gingrich was paid $60,750, including the "cash equivalent" of two first-class plane tickets, meals, and lodging.

(Video above via Bloomberg.)

Leading into the South Carolina primary, Gingrich has been hammering Romney for his work at Bain. "There's a big difference between people who go out and create a company -- even if they fail -- if they try to go in the right direction, if they share in the hardships, if they're out there with the workers doing it together. That's one thing. But if someone who is very wealthy comes in and takes over your company and takes out all the cash and leaves behind the unemployment?" Gingrich said recently on Fox News. "I think that's not a model we want to advocate, and I don't think any conservative wants to get caught defending that kind of model."

Gingrich Tuesday called the Bain model "exploitative." A pro-Gingrich super PAC, Winning Our Future, also released a 28-minute film called "King of Bain," attacking Romney's tenure at Bain.

Gingrich's attacks have bothered many of his fellow Republicans. The Huffington Post's Jon Ward reported that top Republicans feel the attacks have reinforced the perception of Gingrich as erratic and impulsive.

Other GOPers have criticized the attacks as anti-capitalist, a charge Gingrich strenuously denies. And despite his criticisms of private equity, Gingrich also previously served on the board of private equity firm Forstmann Little -- a past Bain Capital competitor -- from 1999 to 2001.

Levy's charge also hits on another hot topic for Republicans: speaking fees. The former House Speaker said that at one point he charged $60,000 per speech. Romney said Tuesday that he earned "not very much" from speaking fees, though he recently racked up $374,000 in such fees in just one year.

This article has been updated to include details about Gingrich's speaking contract.

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