Newt and the House Ethics Committee

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NANCY’S DILEMMA

On March 21, Nancy Johnson, chair of the House Ethics Committee, told reporters that the allegations against the Speaker were not “frivolous.”

Gingrich ally Paul Weyrich struck back quickly, saying that if Johnson “makes the wrong decision” on an investigator, “she will weaken the speaker of her own party and …affect her chances of continuing to be a committee chairman.”

Meanwhile, Gingrich slammed a bill through the House that was Johnson’s biggest priority this year. The bill benefits the powerful insurance companies in her home state of Connecticut, from whom she collected $95,000 in 1991-1992.

Was Gingrich trying to influence the Ethics Committee chair? Continued questions about Johnson’s impartiality are legitimate and inevitable.


All four Republicans on the Ethics Committee have at least one seeming conflict with either Gingrich or GOPAC.

  • Porter Goss’ campaign contributed $5,000 last year to Gingrich’s GOPAC. Goss, of Florida, said he was surprised to have been reappointed to the panel.
  • Steven Schiff, of New Mexico, may be called as a witness in the very case he is expected to judge. In 1993, a lobbyist for the restaurant industry, Richard Berman, gave $25,000 to Gingrich’s college course while seeking Newt’s help in testifying against a bill authored by Schiff. (See “The Berman Letter”) Democrats claim the incident constitutes an illegal gratuity and Schiff could be asked to testify.
  • Jim Bunning, of Kentucky, received support from GOPAC in 1979 when he ran for the Kentucky legislature. He has also attended GOPAC meetings. He denies a conflict, noting that Gingrich didn’t run GOPAC at that time. But Bunning also shares with GOPAC a billionaire contributor, Carl Lindner of Cincinnati (a former cohort of Charles Keating).
  • Finally, Dave Hobson, of Ohio, privately solicited a letter from a former Ethics Committee staffer that is being used in Gingrich’s defense.

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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