As you read this, the House Ethics Committee is moving toward
hiring an outside counsel to investigate charges against Speaker of
the House Newt Gingrich.
As Mother Jones has reported over the last year, Gingrich
constructed an illegal fundraising machine that enabled him to flout
federal campaign laws and misuse the tax-exempt status allowed
charities. The machine consisted of Gingrich's political action
committee, GOPAC; his think tank, the Progress & Freedom
Foundation; and his televised college course, "Renewing American
Civilization." These intertwined projects made up a stealth
organization that sponsored congressional candidates who would be
loyal to Gingrich. As far back as 1986, current Republican
presidential candidate Lamar Alexander understood Gingrich was
using GOPAC for this purpose (see documents below).
In addition to the ethics charges pending against Gingrich, the
Federal Election Commission is suing GOPAC for evading campaign
finance laws. Among the evidence the FEC has presented in U.S.
District Court is a
list of major GOPAC donors annotated by
Mother Jones. The list includes many donors who appear to have
received political paybacks. (For details on yet another Gingrich
organization through which donors may be trying to buy influence, see
Reading between the lines.)
To show that the speaker of the House is not above the law, the
Ethics Committee must appoint an independent, outside counsel, and
must place no limits on the scope of the investigation. Specifically,
the counsel needs to get a complete accounting of all the money
Gingrich's various enterprises took in and spent. Anything less will
open the Ethics Committee to charges of a cover-up.
Under Gingrich's control, GOPAC refused to release its finances,
claiming it funded mostly local and state campaigns and therefore
didn't need to comply with federal laws. But a leaked 1986
correspondence between Gingrich, then-Tennessee Gov. Lamar
Alexander, and Alexander fundraiser Ted Welch suggests otherwise:
From Newt Gingrich to Ted Welch:
"It's our job to help our party to become competitive in the
additional districts it will take to allow us to capture a majority
in the U.S. House--some 50 in all. We work in conjunction with the
National Congressional Committee, and our program has the hearty
endorsement of President Reagan and other Republican leaders."
From Lamar Alexander to Newt
"This suggestion is that you are now busy electing
congressmen, instead of [state] legislators.... The last
thing we need is another operation promoting senators and
congressmen." --Lamar Alexander
Click on the above letters to see the full-sized, scanned image
Want more on Newt? Check out Newt-O-Rama.
It contains links
to all our stuff on our favorite Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.
For more on Lamar Alexander's presidential bid, or for news
on any candidate, visit The
Race for the White House.
See Hot!Media for more resources.