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Romney’s claims about Newt’s ethics charge are false and misleading

Romney’s claims about Newt’s ethics charge are false and misleading

Mitt Romney’s key debate line of late is that Newt resigned in disgrace over ethics charges. It’s even featured in the most recent Romney advertisement (not his SuperPAC) running in Florida.

I posted links the other day showing that the charges against Newt were political and that he ultimately was was vindicated on the single (out of 84) charge to which he agreed to be sanctioned and pay the costs of the investigation.  Mark Levin has been outspoken in his objection to the Romney accusations.

Now Byron York has written the definitive take down of the claim that Newt did anything wrong, and that the decision to agree to sanctions was anything other than a politcial decision (h/t several readers in the Tip Line), What Really Happened in the Gingrich Ethics Case?

First, York framed the current Romney position:

The Romney campaign has been hitting Newt Gingrich hard over the 1990s ethics case that resulted in the former Speaker being reprimanded and paying a $300,000 penalty. Before the Iowa caucuses, Romney and his supporting super PAC did serious damage to Gingrich with an ad attacking Gingrich’s ethics past.  Since then, Romney has made other ads and web videos focusing on the ethics matter, and at the Republican debate in Tampa Monday night, Romney said Gingrich “had to resign in disgrace.”

In private conversations, Romney aides often mention the ethics case as part of their larger argument that Gingrich would be unelectable in a race against President Obama….

Then York, who covered the ethics investigation in the 1990s, laid out what really happened.  Unfortunatey, the truth can’t be summarized in a 30-second commercial.  The short story is that there was a trumped-up claim by a Democratic political rival in Georgia that Newt improperly used a history course he taught for political purposes, the Democratic Party used the accusation as payback for Newt having led Republicans to re-take the House in1994, the attackes were pushed by David Bonior based on novel theories, and used relentlessly by the biased mainstream media to attack Republicans.  Read the full article, where the details are laid out.

At the end of it all, there was no there there, and Gingrich agreed to the sanctions to stop the damage to the Party:

With the charges against Gingrich megaphoned in the press, Gingrich and Republicans were under intense pressure to end the ordeal.  In January, 1997, Gingrich agreed to make a limited confession of wrongdoing in which he pleaded guilty to the previously unknown offense of failing to seek sufficiently detailed advice from a tax lawyer before proceeding with the course.  (Gingrich had in fact sought advice from two such lawyers in relation to the course.)   Gingrich also admitted that he had provided “inaccurate, incomplete, and unreliable” information to Ethics Committee investigators.  That “inaccurate” information was Gingrich’s contention that the course was not political — a claim Cole and the committee did not accept, but the IRS later would.

But it did not stop there.  Democrats tried to get the IRS to pursue charges against Newt, but after an exhaustive investigation, Newt was vindicated:

It was a huge victory for Democrats.  They had deeply wounded the Speaker.  But they hadn’t brought him down.  So, as Bonior suggested, they sought to push law enforcement to begin a criminal investigation of Gingrich….

The bottom line: Gingrich acted properly and violated no laws.  There was no tax fraud scheme. Of course, by that time, Gingrich was out of office, widely presumed to be guilty of something, and his career in politics was (seemingly) over.

There was no crime or ethics violation committed.  The Republican Party, which retook the presidency in the 2000 election was better off for Newt having put the matter to rest when he did rather than dragging out the fight for years.

Newt also did not resign his Speakership because of the ethics charges, as the WaPo fact checker found.  He resigned two years later because Republicans, though holding the House, did not do as well as expected in the 1998 House elections.

The other irony of all this is that in the mid-1990s while Newt and others were fighting for the Contact with America, taking back the House, Romney joined with the Democrats in attacking the conservative agenda.

So the next time Romney states at a debate or runs an ad alleging that Newt resigned in disgrace because of ethics charges, remember Mike Huckabee’s line from 2008 in response to Romney attack ads.


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Truly, Newt was the first one to be “Palinized”. That is something my Republican friends should think on, as they assess who to support during the GOP primary.

    McCoy2k in reply to Mutnodjmet. | January 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Yep. The Democrats, the establishment Republicans, and their allies in the Press cooked up the ethics charges against Newt in the 90s to drive him from the Speakership, because he was the most effective Speaker post-WWII. That is the truth. The only thing Newt is guilty of is wanting to get the scandal behind him, and, of course, being a dire and direct threat to the political agenda of Progressives and establishment Republicans.

    The situation is not unlike Palin resigning from the Alaska governorship because she believed, correctly, the the office of the governor was basically paralyzed from doing what it was supposed to do, because it wasted the governorship’s time and energy defending her from frivolous and unfounded law suits. She did the right thing by leaving the office to her political successor, where the agenda would go forward, but she is derided as a quitter.

    Gingrich is haunted by a similar ghost. No wonder the two of them feel a political kinship.

Newt wasn’t the first to be “Palinized.” It goes back, way back, before Newt. Clarence Thomas, Dan Quayle, and Robert Bork are three examples predating Newt. Much of what happened to Nixon (more than once in his career) qualifies too. And it may even predate Nixon. They’ve just gotten much better at it, thanks to the assistance of the MSM which is nowadays fully submerged in the tank for the Dems, when it used to at least pretend to be objective.

Glad to see Byron York getting the truth out there. I wonder if any other media outlets will?

    Snorkdoodle Whizbang in reply to damocles. | January 25, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Even Charles Krauthammer (certainly no Gingrich cheerleader!) called B.S. on Romney’s attack on Bill O’Reilly’s show.

To be fair, Professor, Romney was not attacking the conservative agenda. In fact, some of the proposals in the Contract with America were at the heart of his 1994 campaign — welfare reform, a balanced budget amendment and a line-item veto for the president.

In fact, Romney, as he explains in the video clip you cite, was merely opposed to that particular means of advancing the conservative agenda, not the agenda itself.

    William A. Jacobson in reply to MerryCarol. | January 25, 2012 at 10:59 am

    In 1994 he was running against Ted Kennedy and he ran to the left of Kennedy on virtually everything. Read the linked post about 1994, it’s what Major Garrett (formerly FNC now National Journal) calls Romney’s “1994 problem”.

      I did my homework: I re-read Garrett’s post, and I researched Romney’s political positions in 1994.

      Romney has flip-flopped on some issues since then, but I have not found any evidence that he ran farther left than Kennedy on any issue.

    JayDick in reply to MerryCarol. | January 25, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Perhaps, but that doesn’t prevent Romney from criticizing Newt’s “right wing social engineering” comment, which he takes completely out of context.

    I really don’t mind the Republicans criticizing each other; it is good preparation for the general election. But I don’t like criticisms that are not legitimate, by anyone.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to MerryCarol. | January 25, 2012 at 11:17 am

    What has Romney ever done to advance the Conservative agenda … besides disdaining Reagan, Conservatism, and devising Robamney care?

Snorkdoodle Whizbang | January 25, 2012 at 10:42 am

“In fact, Romney, as he explains in the video clip you cite, was merely opposed to that particular means of advancing the conservative agenda, not the agenda itself.”

I think that’s soft-soaping it a bit. Romney was advocating the moderate tactic of compromising on the agenda. A thoroughly failed tactic that has only served to slow the advances of radical progressive agendas, not reverse them.

My understanding is that Newt used his staff to help prepare material for a college course he was giving while Speaker. This is not allowed under House rules so he had to repay the costs.

    JayDick in reply to Neo. | January 25, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I haven’t seen that reported anywhere and I don’t remember it from the time it occurred; it is not in York’s piece. It may have been one of the charges the Democrats made that was not validated (there were dozens of those). Do you have a reference.

I’ll temper what I say, because I was clearly wrong the last time I disagreed with you, but I just feel like its inaccurate to say he was vindicated or exonerated. If you’re mistakenly arrested, and then resist arrest, being found not guilty of the original crime doesn’t mean you get a free pass on resisting arrest. Maybe I’m just missing something.

    JayDick in reply to Awing1. | January 25, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Newt admitted wrongdoing on two charges. The IRS thoroughly investigated the more serious of the two (the other was patently false even though he admitted to it) and found that it was clearly not valid. I’d say that is exoneration. Read York’s piece; it is excellent.

    Winghunter in reply to Awing1. | January 25, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Newt Was Found Innocent Nearly 13 Years Ago – Networks Have Yet To Report It

    Newt Is Vindicated, But Nobody Knows It

    StrangernFiction in reply to Awing1. | January 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I don’t view resisting bogus charges trumped up by ‘rats as a problem, but that’s just me.

as a lawyer i was surprised by my first exerience with a so called plea deal. both sides agree to something each know is not true. then if approval is denied both sides pretend nothing has been admitted. but when aperson is going broke and his life is being consumed by The Case there is a strong uege to move on. ask sarah palin about not being driven into poverty and wasting ones finite time on earth

    Midwest Rhino in reply to javau. | January 25, 2012 at 11:53 am

    If Newt is looking to tap into another populist hotbed, that might be one. Being “Palinized” happens on a more subtle level with local lawyer “cabals” in many places. The local country club is a small version of the DC/NY cocktail party. “It’s not worth suing over” is a common refrain when there is wrong doing, where the locally “connected” get favors and “the little people” face obstruction and collusion.

    We resort to lawyer jokes as a coping mechanism, as lawyers write our laws for their advantage, and nice guys finish last. York’s expose needs to be a “60 minutes” style proctological examination of how the system is abused, but too many have vested interest in covering that “crap” up.

    But Newt has to choose how many fronts he wants to open in this “war”. We see what happened when he broke through enemy lines in ’94, and his own troops cut off his supply lines, and appeasers like Mitt hung him out to dry. (an imperfect analogy with some validity) 🙂

      Someone needs to do it. It’s certainly not going to happen on the alphabet networks, that’s for sure. I only see someone like John Stossel or Mike Huckabee doing a program on this, but Fox News or Fox Business would probably kill it before it had the chance to air.

      Andrew Breitbart and his websites, or Steven Bannon are the two that could do it independently.

What Romney is doing should cost him EVERY self-respecting Republican vote in America and disqualify him forever as a candidate or even a presence within the conservative movement. Romney is channeling the Left in every despicable aspect and nature of character destruction through narrative distortion; he is not simply adapting their techniques but simulating their very essence. It is not merely an unjust attack on a man, but a larger attack on the complicated processes of civic good-faith in the political system and on the inherent conservative respect for these processes.

Romney has chosen to misrepresent for his own purposes a hallmark case study in the Left’s mission of political assassination at a moment of national peril when conservatives should be calling out this case and the larger mission as the crimes they are, not seeking, opportunistically, to imitate them.

The offense is even more striking given Gingrich’s struggles and battle scars in the fight against the Left while Romney was never close to this war and indeed dodged it, disdained it and disavowed it. It is akin to a peacenik or presumed conscientious objector distorting the record of a war hero or even daring to comment or offer insight into the conditions of a war he never neared and could not imagine.

It is a moral crime and a total political betrayal in the deepest sense. Romney has endorsed not only a gross political lie but the particular, insidious form of its propagation through which the Left sustains itself.

The “disgrace” belongs to Romney, and in a just world his political “career” — such as it is — would be over.

    StrangernFiction in reply to raven. | January 25, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    The offense is even more striking given Gingrich’s struggles and battle scars in the fight against the Left while Romney was never close to this war and indeed dodged it, disdained it and disavowed it.

    It bears repeating.

      There was a shocked look and sound to Newt’s response in Monday nights debate. With all his historical knowledge, Newt is astounded that a candidate for the Republican nomination would resort to the scorched earth tactics of the radical Left. What Romney is doing is destroying the comity and unity the party will need to pull together to beat Obama.

      What Romney is basically doing is poisoning the well. He’s telegraphing to the Republican electorate, if I don’t get this nomination, I’m going to make sure its not worth a red cent in going against Obama in fall.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to raven. | January 25, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    exactly right.

    With Obama and company, you can often tell what they are up to by looking at their harshest attacks on conservatives. They call the Tea party violent and extreme, but they love the violent and extreme occupiers. They claim the budget is held hostage by Republicans for political advantage, but for the first time in decades, failed to pass a budget even with a Democrat controlled congress. It is Alinksy demagoguery at its ugliest.

    Romney seems the same. Mitt is the disgrace, for still pushing this phony line of attack, while Mitt flips on issue after issue. Mitt was a one term governor that was so “disgraced” that polling showed he couldn’t even hold a second term, in a position Republicans had solidly held in the past.

    Mitt accuses Newt of attacking free market capitalism. But Romney’s claims he created 100,000+ jobs in companies HE started, when those claims are both patently false. He provided a small part of the fuel that got those already built machines up and running.

    And despite the roaring 80’s and 90’s, I have yet to hear Mitt explain why so many of the huge merged “capitalist” conglomerates had so little CAPITAL and so much debt, that they needed government favors and bailouts. Even if Bain were clean, I’d like to hear his diagnosis and remedy for that kind of crony capitalism.

    And is the big money Mitt is taking to make him president cleaner than the money Newt got from Freddie when he was out of office? Mitt will say anything.

Romney is doing the same kind of thing he did in the last election. That very well may explain why his numbers never got really good.

Its funny hearing R-bots say Newt is using the language of the Left. Isn’t Romney doing the same here? Romney is continuing on with the Left attacks on Newt using the ethics. Of course the conservative media will not hold their man accountable. Its sad to see usually good people fall victim to confirmation bias.

StrangernFiction | January 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm

The establishment’s statist colors are on full display. And that is a very good thing. 🙂

StrangernFiction | January 25, 2012 at 12:21 pm

A bit off topic (from the York article), but one could argue — and I believe quite persuadingly — that the entire public indoctrination program…..err I mean education system is one massive ethics violation.

JackRussellTerrierist | January 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm

This is just another example of Mitt going all Obama on Newt, inasmuch as Mitt must utilize deception in order to make his central claim.

I am as insulted by a Republican doing this as I am all the time the Dhims have done it, which is pretty much every time one of them opens his mouth. It is just assumed that we are all stupid enough to believe whatever they say without question and never look behind the curtain.

so newt is mr clean and michelle bachmann and susan molinari and rick santorum – who say he is an erratic and undisciplined leader and unreliable conservative – are all wrong about newt?


if newt was so good as a leader, the why the scant number of endorsement from those he served with?

i think may on the right love the red meat that newt so ably tosses out so much that they turn a blind eye to his many failings.

as if saying: “yes, he’s a bastid, but he’s our bastid!”

rest assured, professor jacobson, the independents and moderates we need to win the election will not feel that way.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to reliapundit. | January 25, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I’m an independent and I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t pretend to speak for me. Nor am I the only independent around here, far from it. That independents think, feel, or vote as a predictable bloc is idiocy, which I concur is a specialty of yours, but it is empty rhetoric typically employed by those who cannot articulate an agrument without pretending to know how the largest voting demographic thinks, feels, or votes.

    That politics, whether single politician to single politician or nation to nation, is a matter of ever-changing alliances is lost on you. Russia, China, Iran, and Japan all share a certain attribute – they were once American allies. By your logic, America is therefore evil.

    You are a vapid moron.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to reliapundit. | January 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Susan Molinari in particular and Rick Santorum are both rather erratic themselves and both have now and in the past have had their personal agendas that ran countrary to Newt’s. Your argument is essentially “These people said it, so it must be true”. Try again.

[…] » Romney’s claims about Newt’s ethics charge are false and misleading – Le&m… There was no crime or ethics violation committed.  The Republican Party, which retook the presidency in the 2000 election was better off for Newt having put the matter to rest when he did rather than dragging out the fight for years. […]

Henry Hawkins | January 25, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Byron York: “The Republican Party, which retook the presidency in the 2000 election was better off for Newt having put the matter to rest when he did rather than dragging out the fight for years.”

This reminds me a little of Gerald R. Ford, who pardoned Nixon in 1974 (1975?), saying:

“[Nixon/Watergate]…is a tragedy in which we all have played a part. It could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that, and if I can, I must.”

After years of counterculture pressure (think OWS 24/7 for years and years) and the Viet Nam years, the long Watergate scandal ending in Nixon’s resignation put a cap on a decade long upheaval in America, and I remember it so well. The air was thick with cynicism.

Ford was excoriated for pardoning Nixon, as you might expect, but in my mind it was an act of selfless heroism, politically speaking. Basically, Ford committed political suicide in order to put an end, a punctuation, to a decade of constant turmoil and upheaval in America. He did not expect to run in 1976, but was urged into it because, as incumbent president, he was held to have the best chance of winning in a decidedly anit-Republican era. Of course, he lost to Jimmuh Carter after fighting off Ronald Reagan in the primaries.

(One theory holds that if Ford hadn’t run, we’d have gotten Reagan and there’d never have been a Carter presidency. Another theory holds that Reagan – or any Republican – would have lost to Carter, and that we might never have had a Reagan in the White House. I think if Reagan had lost to Carter in 1976, he’d have beat him in 1980).

TeaPartyPatriot4ever | January 25, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Unfortunately for Newt, regardless of the false assesment of the allegations against Newt, the liberals and Romney, only need to repeat it, and damage Newt in the minds of the Voters, and thus at the ballot boxes..

On the other hand, fortunately for Newt, Reagan Conservatives like the Tea Party, do not believe the liberal MSM and Romney. As there are more important issues and factors that Conservative voters are weighing in relation to Romney vs Newt.

The best candidate to take on Obama would be Newt, and the Conservative American people see it in the debates, thus know it when they see it.

“Newt’s Jacksonian Revolution”
By Chris Stirewalt
Jan. 23, 2012-

President Andrew Jackson in a February, 1834 meeting with Philadelphia financiers about his opposition to the creation of a central bank.

“You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out, and by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out!”

This article gives the reasons why Newt is now, and why Reagan was then in 1980, the Conservative’s choice to be the Republican Pary Nominee, and U.S. President.

As well as thia article-

Gingrich: “The Rise of the Hoi Polloi”
by Craig Shirley
Jan. 23, 2012

“No one goes around calling themselves a Nixon Republican or a Ford Republican or a Bush Republican. But plenty now proudly call themselves Goldwater Republicans and Reagan Republicans.

Maybe some conservatives will one day be calling themselves “Gingrich Republicans.”


Both of these two articles clearly gives insight and perspective into the what and why Reagan, and now Newt, are the clear conservative choices in this political Republican Primary race, and in any future political races to come.

[…] interaction with Reagan, has written a critical column, Reagan’s Young Lieutenant,  Much like Byron York’s column debunking Romney attacks regarding Newt’s ethics charges, Lord’s column is a critical […]

[…] Romney’s claims about Newt’s ethics charge are false and misleading […]