In a Wednesday appearance on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich repeated denials that he lobbied for Freddie Mac, echoing the line he used when confronted with similar questioning by CNBC’s John Harwood during a debate last week. According to Gingrich, his role with Freddie Mac was a consulting role.
“I was perfectly happy to work on the question, ‘What do government-sponsored enterprises do?’” Gingrich said. “There’s a long American history of government-sponsored enterprises and I was happy to give them advice on how to present government-sponsored enterprises as a model. I just want to emphasize this: I did no lobbying. I did not reach out to Capitol Hill. I was not directly engaged in that way. I gave them advice on what they could do, but I’m not in the business of lobby, period.”
Gingrich said his specific job description was to “offer strategic advice,” and flatly denied that he ever had any direct talks with members of Congress on behalf of Freddie Mac.
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have been blamed for sparking the subprime mortgage crisis by using their taxpayer backing to guarantee risky housing loans for private banks.
“Clearly, having been speaker of the House, having served in Congress for 20 years, having looked strategically at where we’re going, there are a number of people who found it useful to get our advice,” Gingrich said.
Host Laura Ingraham suggested to Gingrich that he wouldn’t have gotten the Freddie Mac contract had he not held such a high-ranking position in Congress, adding that there could be some hypocrisy when he criticized former Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd and Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank for being so protective of government-sponsored enterprises including like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The difference, Gingrich said, was that he was a private citizen when offered consulting advice for Freddie Mac, whereas Dodd and Frank were still in office.