Newt Gingrich was asked about his work for Freddie Mac at the CNBC debate, drawing a testy answer in which he forcefully clarified he was never a lobbyist — only an “historian.”
“I have never done any lobbying,” he said, saying every contract he signed after leaving office “specifically said I would do no lobbying.”
“I offered advice,” he said. “My advice as an historian when they walked in and said we are now making loans to people that have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything but that’s what the government wants us to do. I said at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible. It turned out unfortunately I was right and the people who were doing exactly what Congresswoman Bachmann talked about were wrong.”
The Associated Press reported in 2008 that Gingrich was paid $300,000 in 2006 as a consultant to help battle efforts to regulate the housing giant. Per the AP, Newt “talked and wrote about what he saw as the benefits of the Freddie Mac business model.” At the onset of the financial crisis, Gingrich told FOX News that he wanted the bailout to include provisions preventing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from hiring lobbyists.
Gingrich said in the CNBC debate that there was a “good case” for breaking up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into smaller private institutions.
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.