The Berman Letter: Thanks For Your Help!

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One Newt deal was unexpectedly documented in a handwritten postscript to a letter from a lobbyist for the restaurant industry, Richard Berman, whose Employment Policies Institute gave a tax-deductible $25,000 gift to Newt’s college course. In the letter enclosing the contribution, Berman penned a thanks to Gingrich for his help with a hearing at which Berman wanted to testify. (Click on the copy of the letter to the left to see a full, readable scan.)

Berman has since argued that no one pays $25,000 to testify at a hearing, and he is undoubtedly right. That wasn’t all Berman got. Gingrich wove Employment Policies Institute material on the evils of the minimum wage into his college course. Once Newt became speaker, Berman and his paid economists were able to make the same case to Congress. Gingrich also used course material that Berman provided on one of his biggest clients: restaurant mogul Norman Brinker, who founded the Steak & Ale and Chilis chains. As first reported by National Public Radio, Gingrich ran a ridiculously flattering video about Brinker in his course. “Whether it’s his beloved game of polo or his magical success in business, Norman Brinker simply does not know how to lose,” an announcer gushes. Another Brinker enthusiast is shown calling him “a living legend.”

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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