Thursday, February 22, 2018

Gingrich's former company releases contract

Under pressure, Republican presidential candidate Newt Ging­rich arranged the release of a contract Monday night showing the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. paid his consulting firm a $25,000 monthly retainer fee in 2006, for a total of $300,000.

The agreement calls for "consulting and related services" but makes no mention of lobbying.

Gingrich has likened his work for the federally backed mortgage giant known as Freddie Mac to that of a historian, and later a strategic adviser. GOP rival Mitt Romney says he was lobbying.

The work the former House speaker did for Freddie Mac was disclosed long ago, but controversy flared after he trounced Romney in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary on Saturday.

The next primary is set for Jan. 31 in Florida, a state particularly hard hit by the housing crisis of 2008, and one where Gingrich's connections with Freddie Mac may carry a political stigma.

The material was released by the Center for Health Transformation, which Gingrich helped create.

Romney had ramped up criticism of Gingrich for not making the details public sooner. Gingrich said it wasn't only up to him because he no longer controls the firm named in the contract.

"They have a number of confidentiality agreements. I'm very comfortable with it being released," he told ABC's Good Morning America.

The disclosure comes amid a volley between the Romney and Gingrich campaigns about who is hiding information voters may want.

Gingrich has said previously that firms he ran received about $1.6 million from Freddie Mac for consulting services over several years, and he personally pocketed $35,000 a year. Only the contract covering 2006 was released.

Even before the material was made public, Romney's campaign said it wouldn't be satisfied with only the contract or contracts themselves. "Speaker Gingrich should immediately make his Freddie Mac contract and work product available to the public," Gail Gitcho, Romney's communications director, said in a statement.

The Center for Health Transformation and the Gingrich campaign share a lawyer, Stefan Passantino. He did not return a phone call seeking comment.

NEW FUNDING: A wealthy backer of Gingrich will inject $5 million into a "super PAC" supporting his presidential bid, the New York Times reported Monday, citing an unnamed person with knowledge of the contribution. The supporter, Miriam Adelson, is the wife of Sheldon Adelson, a longtime Gingrich friend and patron who earlier contributed $5 million to the super PAC, Winning Our Future.

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