Review: Gingrich pushed ideas and clients

Nov. 30, 2011 at 8:47 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Republican U.S. presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich and his staff say Gingrich doesn't lobby but a New York Times review indicates he performed similar services.

A review of his activities shows how he used his influence to work on behalf of clients with skin in the game of shaping government policy, notably healthcare, the review released Wednesday indicated.

Since he left Capitol Hill in 1999, Gingrich has arranged meetings between executives and officials, and included pitches for his clients in his presentations to lawmakers, the Times said.

Gingrich and his aides repeatedly said he is not a registered lobbyist, he never took a position for money and corporations contracted with him because of the potency of his ideas.

"You have somebody who knows what he believes in, he can effectively communicate it and he's successful in doing it," said his spokesman, R.C. Hammond.

But even as it appears he wasn't involved in negotiating legislative language, Gingrich and his staff performed many of the same functions registered lobbyists do, the Times said. The newspaper said it reviewed an unsecured archived version of a restricted area of his Center for Health Transformation's Web site, finding examples of presentations that offered specific services of Gingrich's clients and executives from some of those companies sitting on panel discussions.

Randy Evans, a lawyer who has represented Gingrich since his days as House speaker, said none of Gingrich's clients paid him to adopt a position he didn't have already.

"That matters a lot," Evans said, "because there was never a point where we identified a client's position first and decided, 'OK, that's where we're going.' His vision always came first."

Paul Branagan, who was president of Millennium Plastics when it hired Gingrich for $7,500 a month plus stock options, told the Times, "He made it very clear to us that he does not lobby, but that he could direct us to the right places in Washington and elsewhere."

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