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Gingrich: 1994 Legacy "Hangs in the Balance"

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich today cast the Jack Abramoff scandal as symbolic of a broader level of corruption in Washington and called on the Republican majority in Congress to adopt broad-based campaign finance and lobbying reforms.

"This is not one bad person doing one bad thing," Gingrich said of Abramoff during his luncheon remarks at a D.C. Rotary Club event held at the Hotel Washington. "You can't have a corrupt lobbyist without a corrupt member or a corrupt staffer on the other end."

Quoting from the Federalist Papers and invoking such luminaries as Lord Acton and President Abraham Lincoln, Gingrich launched an unapologetic indictment of the Washington culture -- a culture he partially dominated from 1994 until his resignation in late 1998.

Among the other topics on which Gingrich heaped scorn: Wealthy individuals "buying" Senate and gubernatorial seats, the influx of foreign money into the American political process, the ability of a single senator to place a "hold" on presidential appointments, and the loophole in campaign finance law that allows for the creation of so-called 527 (soft money) organizations to influence the political process.

In classic Gingrich fashion, the former Speaker had a slew of potential fixes for what ails Capitol Hill. The most radical -- and seemingly impractical -- is a plan to abolish all political fundraising in Washington, D.C., and its environs.

Gingrich also advocated a lifting of campaign contribution limits on individuals living in either the district or state of the candidate to whom they are donating. In his prepared remarks, he singled out Gov.-elect Jon Corzine's (D-N.J.) $100 million personal expenditures on his 2000 race for Senate and 2005 gubernatorial bid as "convincing proof" that citizens should be allowed to donate unlimited amounts to home-state or local-district candidates "to offset the big rich ability to buy power."

Notably missing from the speech was mention of a two-year ethics inquiry into Gingrich's use of tax-exempt organizations for alleged political purposes. Gingrich agreed to pay a $300,000 "cost assessment" after he said he unintentionally provided incorrect information to the Ethics Committee.

Gingrich called on House Republican leaders to begin moving an ethics package when they return at the end of the month and make it their "highest priority" in the second session of the 109th Congress. "This is the moment when the Republican leadership has to reaffirm itself as the Reform party," Gingrich said. "The danger for Republicans is to pretend this isn't fundamental."

The former Speaker also reiterated his belief that Texas Rep. Tom DeLay (R) should not return as House Majority Leader. Gingrich refused to make a personal rebuke of DeLay, saying only that the House simply cannot run without a full-time majority leader and that DeLay's legal case is unlikely to be wrapped up anytime soon.

Asked whether his reform zeal could form the foundation for a presidential bid in 2008, Gingrich offered only a tight-lipped smile.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 4, 2006; 3:51 PM ET
Categories:  House , Republican Party  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Parsing the Polls: The Public's Take on Congressional Corruption
Next: Abramoff Scandal's Many Tentacles

Comments

Hey PE, he said Delay should not return as Majority Leader. Can't you read? What's the point of these blogs if people don't even work of the same article?

In fact, Delay's troubles are sweet revenge for Gingrich who's best friend and ally in Congress (Bob Walker, R-PA) was muscled aside by Delay for Majority Whip.
Remember, ambition is intra-partisan as much as inter-.

Alright, so Gingrich is not the perfect vehicle for reform. But who in a position to win the Presidency IS? The Irony here is that in order to tame the system you HAVE to have to have been a part of it because it's the only way you know how the systems works so that you can change it and know the traps laid by the system to destroy you.

Carter, Reagan, Clinton.... they all came in as outsiders to tame the Congress, but democracy doesn't work that way.

As the saying goes.... "Only Nixon can go to China."

As such, only a member of Congress as President could really tame the Beast. I think, however, McCain has a leg up on him on this.

But for those who really want a Presidential primary debate on ideas instead of standard personal attacks, Gingrich is the man. He's nearly naive in this respect.

Posted by: Newt for Prez | January 6, 2006 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Pioneers Fill War Chest, Then Capitalize
By Thomas B. Edsall, Sarah Cohen and James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, May 16, 2004; Page A01
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29142-2004May15.html

'...For achieving their fundraising goals, Pioneers receive a relatively modest token, the right to buy a set of silver cuff links with an engraved Lone Star of Texas (Rangers can buy a more expensive belt buckle set). Their real reward is entree to the White House and the upper levels of the administration.

Of the 246 fundraisers identified by The Post as Pioneers in the 2000 campaign, 104 -- or slightly more than 40 percent -- ended up in a job or an appointment.

A study by The Washington Post, partly using information compiled by Texans for Public Justice, which is planning to release a separate study of the Pioneers this week, found that 23 Pioneers were named as ambassadors and three were named to the Cabinet: Donald L. Evans at the Commerce Department, Elaine L. Chao at Labor and Tom Ridge at Homeland Security. At least 37 Pioneers were named to postelection transition teams, which helped place political appointees into key regulatory positions affecting industry.

A more important reward than a job, perhaps, is access. For about one-fifth of the 2000 Pioneers, this is their business -- they are lobbyists whose livelihoods depend on the perception that they can get things done in the government. More than half the Pioneers are heads of companies -- chief executive officers, company founders or managing partners -- whose bottom lines are directly affected by a variety of government regulatory and tax decisions.

When Kenneth L. Lay, for example, a 2000 Pioneer and then-chairman of Enron Corp., was a member of the Energy Department transition team, he sent White House personnel director Clay Johnson III a list of eight persons he recommended for appointment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Two were named to the five-member commission....'

Posted by: OD | January 5, 2006 10:49 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Abramoff is also an active member of the Republican party and an official Bush fundraiser with the rank of "Pioneer".

That means someone who's raised over $100,000 for Bush. If you raise over $200,000 you are a "Ranger".

The bummer for Bush is that since Abramoff's name begins with AB, he's at the top of every list of Bush pioneers.
How embarrassing. That's just terrible luck. It's like God hates GW or something this year.

Posted by: OD | January 5, 2006 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Saying the same crap twice doesn't make it right bill. Tribes gave some money to Democrats, though nowhere near as much.

Abramoff gave only to Republicans, and to Republicans' wives, and to Republicans' staffers. Period.

Try to remember the difference so as not to unintentionally mislead people.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2006 10:18 PM | Report abuse

GOSH bill. You actually spelled "morphed" correctly. I'm confused however. Who is ABRAMHOf? Is he the "glorified truck driver" from Arkansas? Bill say it isn't so. This isn't more righty hallucinating to justify the "Newts" hoots and "ABRAMHOF'S" 200k sleepovers in the Lincoln bedroom is it? Did you mean Jack Off rather than '"ABROMHOF"? Bill, I think you've "morphed into an adjunct of "campaign FINCANCE refprm ms4ir3wsaes".

Posted by: jimmy j. | January 5, 2006 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, is THIS surprising - the Post somehow conveniently omits the fact that Reid got over 90 thou from Abramhof - Hillary over 16. Harkin over 70. And on it goes. Mr. Sanctimonious (McCain)gets over 200 K from Indian tribes who are exempt from his "campaign fincance reform measures". But the Post -somehow- doesn't pick up on this. And that glorified truck driver from Arkansas we had as president charges 200 K a night to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom - for future favors, of course And their new hand wringing ombudsman wonders why readership is down. I'm sick of the Post - it's morphed into an adjunct of the DNC. If that's journalism, I'm the Pope.

Posted by: bill | January 5, 2006 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, is THIS surprising - the Post somehow conveniently omits the fact that Reid got over 90 thou from Abramhof - Hillary over 16. Harkin over 70. And on it goes. Mr. Sanctimonious (McCain)gets over 200 K from Indian tribes who are exempt from his "campaign fincance reform measures". But the Post -somehow- doesn't pick up on this. And that glorified truck driver from Arkansas we had as president charges 200 K a night to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom - for future favors, of course And their new hand wringing ombudsman wonders why readership is down. I'm sick of the Post - it's morphed into an adjunct of the DNC. If that's journalism, I'm the Pope.

Posted by: bill | January 5, 2006 8:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure that Newt's desire to remove the limit of individual contributions has nothing to do with the fact that Republican doners tend to be larger individually than Democratic ones.

Also, how does that tie into his stated premise that he doesn't want politicians to be bought and paid for? If you're a Senator and I have a guy who donates a million bucks to my reelection campaign then I don't care if you're the reincarnation of Honest Abe Lincoln himself you're going to feel indebted to that person. Basic human nature.

Another corrupt Republian trying to somehow show he is outside the corrupt Republican establishment.

Posted by: J. Crozier | January 5, 2006 7:00 PM | Report abuse

OD,

I LOVE your posts!!
What refreshing perspective!
Bravo!

Posted by: Astroboy | January 5, 2006 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Yeah thats it! If we allow unlimited donations from within the state of an elected official then us good millionaires can bankroll against the bad millionaires!

Oh wait - uh... where do I get the millions in the first place?
Oh well, Newt's other big idea was to present divorce papers to his dying, cancer suffering wife on her hospital death bed.

Some guys have all the good ideas, huh?

Posted by: Deathbed Divorcee | January 5, 2006 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Let's see now, this is the same Newt who so skillfully resigned in the middle of Monica-gate to conceal the fact the a secretary of his would soon be Mrs. Newt the 3rd, then most likely engineered the doomed next candidate who Newt surely knew had had an affair, thusly stirring up a little more smoke, with mirrors, to hide his tracks, all the while as the leader of the Moral Majority, oh goodness, this is too rich.

Posted by: trawler | January 5, 2006 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Politics makes strange bedfellows. I prefer those who screw the opposite sex, as opposed to those who screw the country.

Unfortunately, America's children watch these role models. Why work hard in school when cheating can produce the same or better results? Are Americans "putting their lives on the line" in Iraq for country or Big Business? The news should be rated PG-21.

Posted by: Tom Rische | January 5, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Newt lost all credibility when he was screwing around on his wife, then claimed to take the high road when Clinton was doing the same.

Newt is just another Gary Hart

Posted by: jenniferm | January 5, 2006 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Newt Gingrich, he's the best. A crook, an adulter, shut's down our government and he is commenting on everyone's problems in Washington. He's almost as good as Bill Bennett. How can anyone take serious anything Newt Gingrich has to say? The idiot ran himself out of Washington.

Posted by: CFB | January 5, 2006 1:50 AM | Report abuse

Remember James Baker, Reagan's ramrod-straight Sec of State? Nancy thought him a total hunk.

More recently, he was US debt envoy to occupied Iraq, charged with lecturing foreigners on the need to forgive Iraqi debt. But he kept his day job as a major 'equity partner' in Carlyle, the famous Bush-Bin Laden conglomerate. In the same week he was in Europe publicly urging debt forgiveness, Carlyle secretly offered its paid services to the Kuwaiti government to use its contacts in Washington, and lobby to enforce MAXIMUM payment of Iraq's debts to Kuwait, in direct contravention of official US policy. When the proposal offering Carlyle's services to the Kuwaitis was leaked, the deal was swiftly dropped. Here's the proof:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6242360/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A30798-2004Oct13?language=printer
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1325971,00.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1326753,00.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1327956,00.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1341239,00.html

This story was strangled at birth in the States after Carlyle issued an absurd denial, claiming it had backed out of the consortium behind the offer to Kuwait, over concerns about the ethical conflict. Carlyle's name on the the leaked business proposal was supposedly a mistake, even though it topped the list of participating organisations. Even though the document mentioned Carlyle 47 times and Baker 11 times. But Carlyle had no evidence for this because the decision (to quit a consortium asking $1 billion to recover $27 billion debt for a foreign government) had apparently been communicated orally, with no letter or email. Unfortunately before the company could get its story straight, their press officer had already told several journalists different.

There was no outcry over Baker, who incidentally is so rich he makes Cheney look like a Katrina victim. So really, if Baker and Cheney's behaviour is tolerable, then what's so corrupt about Abramoff?

Let him off. He is the new normal. Why hunt skimming Congressmen? When Frist and DeLay launder money or do a little insider trading, they're merely learning the skills they'll need in higher office.

As for the Bongo meeting, it's absurd to call Bush corrupt, because el 'Commander-in-Chief' is above the law. Didn't you hear? He just said so himself.

They should rename themselves the 'Banana Republicans'.

Posted by: OD | January 5, 2006 1:29 AM | Report abuse

Since I'm not American, the US corruption that concerns me is all in the 'Defense' Dept. Lobbyists are not the biggest problem at the Pentagon, of course...since the ministerial posts themselves are held by executives from the arms industry.

Rummy's war cabinet reads like a Who's Who of Northrop Grumman and his own sugar daddy General Dynamics. Secs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Procurement, Personnel, you name it.
Conflict is literally in these people's interest.

If you're looking to clean up Washington, I'd suggest prioritising the arms dealers who are dragging America into idiotic, fabricated wars, ahead of other crooks facilitating the tribal gambling industry.

The arms industry's corrupting influence is worse than all others combined. The 'defense' industry is not only the most corrupt industry, it's also the one influencing the gravest decisions.

The case of Randy 'Duke' Cunningham, corrupted entirely with defense money, is trivial.

Conservatives can try to dismiss complaints about Halliburton's price-gouging, proven on numerous counts by the Army itself, as 'moonbat' talk.

But this company continued to pay a salary to a sitting Vice-President - more than his official salary from the US people - even as it accepted no-bid contracts that have caused its stock to more than triple in value since the invasion.

An invasion based on phony claims actively pushed by the Vice-President.

I find it hard to believe that Americans will be greatly concerned about lobbyists buying undue influence for corporations on the Hill. The corporate bosses themselves already hold the great ministries of state, and nobody seems to mind that much.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Presidential farewell address:
"In the counsels of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together."

US citizen: "Honey, change the channel. 'I Love Lucy' is on."

Posted by: OD | January 5, 2006 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Well, Ross Perot was right when he said "get rid of all the lobbist", but many in America did not want to level the playing field. I'm glad these politicians are now being exposed!

Posted by: Truth Seeker | January 5, 2006 1:05 AM | Report abuse

I wonder quite often if the election lies and manipulations didn't actually start in 2000, maybe they got started back n 1994.

Wuldn't it be interesting if the government has really been illegitimate since 1994, not 2000, and the Gingrich revolution was actually the start of the Diebold revolution?

Just speculation, but certainly worth some googling. Sherlock might just say "DUH!"

JEP

Posted by: John Patterson | January 5, 2006 12:25 AM | Report abuse

For the bloggers who are saying Dems are standing up and doing nothing. Check your facts, several House Dems have proposed ethics changes all year long as well as last year.

Additionally Remember when the GOP tried to change the rules so Delay could keep his leadership role. Dems stood up and said no. The BI-PARTISON House ethics committee can't meet because the GOP Majority and their Leaders will not allow for an investigation into Delay's activities, or Ney's or the Bush Administration. The GOP is morally bankrupt. They use propanda to gain power, then they abuse this power, and then change the rules to prevent oversight of government officials including their own, and then they critcize and demonize anyone who disagrees with them or stands up to them.

The GOP needs a real lesson in American Democracy. It is time to vote these crooks out of office......by crooks I am referring to the hypocritcal social concervative neo cons vs the moderate GOP minority.

Posted by: db | January 4, 2006 11:42 PM | Report abuse

I hate to say it but Newt is right, and shame on Democrats for not being the first ones to call for reforms. If Democrats don't act quick Republicans are going to beat them to the punch yet again.

These scandels are a gift for Democrats but if we are to wishy washy to make the most of this oportunity when we it comes then we don't deserve to be a majority party.

Posted by: Brent Parrish | January 4, 2006 11:17 PM | Report abuse

two new bumperstickers:

INDICTMENT: IT'S NOT JUST FOR DEMOCRATS ANY M0RE!

IMPEACHMENT: IT'S NOT JUST FOR FELLATIO ANY MORE!

Posted by: Slangwhanger-in-Chief | January 4, 2006 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Cheer up guys...you are seeing american politics in action...it's about saying one thing and doing something else...newt giving ethics advise is like spitting in the wind. you know what they say about that...

Posted by: James | January 4, 2006 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Please, please, please, don't get into a spitting contest over who had sex with whom and when. This horrible scandal has nothing to do with sex, but all to do with greed and power. Although both parties are guilty of being greedy and addicted to power, I have to say the Republican Party seems to be saturated. They stop at nothing to get it or be near it. Only those who are caught are remorseful, contrite, and/or suddenly become born again Christians who think the penance should be to go out and spread the word about the evils of chasing after money and power. I would like to see all of those who are associated with this have to stand before us and admit their wrong in detail and apologize. Public humiliation is about the only thing that may cause them to think twice when a sleazy lobbyist offers them something for nothing, while the voter is left over here on the side jumping up and down trying to get someone to listen.

Posted by: Jeanette | January 4, 2006 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Correction on my previous blog: The Contract with America was in 1994, making the 10th anniversary just over a year ago. My finger hit the wrong key.

Posted by: Tom Rische | January 4, 2006 7:24 PM | Report abuse

I found it interesting that the media, which usually loves anniversaries, never revisited the 10th anniversary of Newt's "Contract with America" in October, 1964, to see how many of those GOP promises were kept. (Less than half, including the promise of a balanced budget).
Politics has never been lily white, but the culture of corruption starts at the top This administration has bent and twisted the law and the truth of what it's done and allowed to happen. It also has associated with and honored business crooks, until they get caught red-handed. Then it pretends not to know them. Birds of a feather?
The media are a major disappointment in asking tough questions. When Bush cited Jesus as his favorite philosopher, nobody asked him what part of Jesus's philosophy he admired. I have failed to recognize any of the parts that I learned in church. Who would Jesus torture and burn and lie to?
Where have all the role models and statesmen gone? Not many left in Washington, DC, it appears.

Posted by: Tom Rische | January 4, 2006 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Adultry is wrong and sad for all parties. I wonder if the writers above had the same feeling about Bill Clinton. Two wrongs don't make a right, do they?

Posted by: Gene Baker | January 4, 2006 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Egregious as some of these ethics violations are, Newt's comments should not be taken seriously. His statements are truly "the pot calling the kettle black"; however, a couple of things DO REQUIRE action: 1. All campaigns for public office at the state and federal level need public financing ONLY.
2. Any financing for public office at the state or federal level needs severe restrictions on total dollars per candidate. Zero personal expenditures.

We are playing with the eventual demise of our democracy and I strongly suggest we take action on my two suggestions. Somehow we got off the track with the previous court challenges re campaign expenditure being the equivalent of "free speech". I personally think this is an affront to all freedom loving people in the end. Big money from big donors speaks loudly but often drowns out honesty and democracy.

Posted by: Morris Foutch | January 4, 2006 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of the fact that Gingrich was cleared (thanks for the fact-checking Gene!) the given the upcoming storm of indictments guilt by association will lead the public to see Nixon turned upside-down: "I AM a crook; vote for me anyway!"

Besides, Newt has that perpetually evasive look that wouldn't work well either in focus groups or during a debate. "A presidential bid in 2008?" What have you been smoking?

Posted by: lpdrjk | January 4, 2006 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Chris failed to acknowledge that Newt was later cleared of the charges against him.

Posted by: Gene Baker | January 4, 2006 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Next week on Irony in Ethics: Special Interview with Al D'Amato and Robert Torricelli!

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | January 4, 2006 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I agree that it seems awfully rich for newt to give out ethics advise, but consider this:
if ginrich truly feels that his '94 legacy is in peril, then his colossal ego will surely compel him to make a go at the whitehouse.
jay lassiter
http://einkleinesblog.blogspot.com/

Posted by: http://einklejay lassiter | January 4, 2006 5:15 PM | Report abuse

true, when rudy was flagrantly violating the ten commandments he did it in gracie mansion, not albany. not that it matters. meanwhile newt is actually onto something in his own uniquely twisted way. which is, if the democrats push an ethics reform plan as part of their 2006 election strategy they will likely gain votes because of it. the GOP could push one, but it would look pretty cynical (which wouldn't stop them) and be ineffective (which wouldn't stop them either.) and it wouldn't get them votes. the penalty of being in power is, you don't get to run against yourself.

Posted by: Slangwhanger-in-Chief | January 4, 2006 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Rudy was never Gov....just Mayor

Posted by: asst. slangwanger-n-chief | January 4, 2006 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Rudy was neve rGov....just Mayor

Posted by: asst. slangwanger-n-chief | January 4, 2006 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Boy did this make me choke on my lunch, Newt giving ETHICS advice to the GOP, if thats not the pot calling the kettle black. Wow, to think the Gingrich's and Guiliani's think we will forget their transgressions come election time just boggles my mind. What Guiliani did in the Governor's mansion was much worse than what Clinton did in the WH, but he will ask us to act like it never happened because he married his mistress. And what did Gingrich do to Marianne, wow. How dumb are we?

Posted by: Julie K Smith | January 4, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

That great reformer Newt Gingrich has proposed reforms to the politics that he started. His reforms include bring back that puritan Republican leader Tom Delay as majority leader. Now that is real reform. Bring back the biggest crook in the whole government to bring the "hammer" down so that more Republican corruption can prevail. And he claims to want reform. He simply talks reform out of one side of his mouth and says "more of the same" out of the other. The good old Republican way. Sounds alot like Bush. He signs a bill outlawing torture and then out of the other side says that he will ignore that law when he wants to. What guys, what a party. As I have repeatedly said, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR AS YOU JUST MIGHT GET IT.

Posted by: PE | January 4, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

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