Newt Gingrich may have been relatively quiet about the impending subprime mortgage crisis during his eight years working for Freddie Mac, but he sure started speaking up once it finally arrived. In 2008 he publicly demanded President Obama return all his donations from the mortgage giant.
In an interview with FOX News’ Sean Hannity on October 8, Gingrich advised Republican presidential nominee John McCain to challenge Obama over the money:
“I think Senator McCain should have turned and said, ‘Senator Obama, are you prepared to give back all the money that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae gave to you? Are you prepared to fire your housing adviser, who was paid $90 million over six years while helping ruin Fannie Mae? Are you prepared to fire your adviser, who is the former head of Fannie Mae, Mr. Johnson? Are you prepared to dissociate yourself from Chris Dodd, who was the highest recipient of money from Fannie Mae?’ And who, by the way, as you know, was also getting a below-market loan from Countrywide before they went broke.”
This was one of a number of interviews in the same period in which Gingrich attacked Democrats for their ties to Freddie Mac. Gingrich reportedly received $1.6 million as a consultant with the company, cutting ties with the company only months before the housing crisis hit.
This naturally raises the question of whether Gingrich feels he should return some of his own cash. A spokesman for Gingrich did not immediately return a request for comment.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.