By: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
WASHINGTON, D.C. Jan. 5, 2012 - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and the FBI to investigate Newt Gingrich and his Center for Health Transformation (CHT) for violations of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). In 2003, the former speaker lobbied Congress to pass a controversial Medicare reform bill, but never registered as a lobbyist. Mr. Gingrich now claims neither he nor CHT did any lobbying and he was not required to register. This story is not supported by facts.
"Despite his repeated disavowals, the evidence shows Mr. Gingrich was lobbying on the Medicare reform bill. Why have an LDA at all if lobbyists can avoid registering just by declaring they don't lobby, but rather are working for the public interest?" said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. "Mr. Gingrich's claims are patently ridiculous. The FBI should investigate and look to see if Mr. Gingrich lobbied for other clients – Freddie Mac for instance – as well."
Mr. Gingrich created his for-profit consulting firm, the Gingrich Group, in 2000 and he founded CHT in early 2003 as a "project" of the parent business. Drug manufacturers and other companies paid up to $200,000 to become members and the group made Medicare reform one of its top priorities. As the Medicare legislation moved through Congress, Mr. Gingrich – then CEO of the Gingrich Group – repeatedly called, met with, and spoke to members of Congress, first leaning on them to include specific provisions in the bill, then to pass it.
Mr. Gingrich claims that he didn't register because he was not paid to lobby and was merely voicing his opinion as a citizen while CHT asserts it has never done any lobbying. Nevertheless, immediately after the bill became law CHT began bragging that the group had been instrumental in shaping and passing the legislation, and Mr. Gingrich even brought the highest-paying CHT members with him to the bill signing ceremony at the White House.
"The idea that Mr. Gingrich was acting as a civic-minded private citizen when he was lobbying for the Medicare bill is ludicrous," said Ms. Sloan. "As usual, Mr. Gingrich was trying to make a buck, selling his access and influence. Mr. Gingrich likes to portray himself as a historian – revisionist historian seems more apt."
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