Newt Gingrich may be out of power, but he still can raise money better than the colleagues he left behind. In his first six months as a private citizen, the former House speaker raised $1.3-million for his new political action committee.
The donations he took in would make many politicians envious: $20,000 from a tobacco giant, $10,000 from a beermaker, $5,000 from an automaker, plus lots more from an all-star cast of Republican lobbyists.
Gingrich had $283,830 in the bank as of June 30, his report to the Federal Election Commission showed.
Experts say Gingrich was able to command more money than most congressmen because he remains popular among the former colleagues whom special interests are seeking to influence.
"He still has a lot of friends on Capitol Hill," said Bill Hogan, director of investigative projects for the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington watchdog group. "If he picks up the phone to call someone, they're going to take his call."
Gingrich is setting up his own consulting firm to offer advice to clients. By law, he cannot lobby Congress until next year.
Gingrich was a prolific fund-raiser as House speaker, sharing his largesse with fellow Republicans, but he gave up the post following the GOP's disappointing showing in last November's elections. He raised $6.8-million for his re-election campaign last year, more than any other House candidate.
Gingrich plans to use the money to help Republicans in federal, state and local races who agree with the former speaker's desires to cap federal, state and local taxes at 25 percent of a person's income; use some Social Security funds for private investment accounts; and build a national missile defense.