Presented as something to think about while the GOP attempts to eat themselves and American voters drown in the water cooler.
First of all, what exactly were the charges against Newt? David Bonior (a Democrat) brought 75 charges against Newt – and 74 of them were found to have NO MERIT WHATSOEVER. The last charge, whether Newt funded his college class “Renewing American Civilization” properly, was too complicated a tax issue for the committee to investigate on its own, so they brought in an outside tax expert to investigate. Two charges arose out of this investigation.
The first ‘charge’ from the ethics committee is that he “may have” violated tax law by using tax-deductible contributions from nonprofit organizations to teach an allegedly partisan college course.
The lectures never mentioned the words “Republicans” or “Democrats,” and one entire session was spent praising FDR. Is that “partisan?” Not only has a former commissioner of the IRS has come forward and said that no tax laws were violated, but an Ethics Committee lawyer even gave approval for the class before Newt started it. But then, as now, Gingrich had several overlapping projects going on. And Democrats alleged that Gingrich used the college course to promote a political agenda.
The second ‘charge’ from the committee is that, in the course of the investigation, Newt provided false information to the committee. Do you know what this “false information” is? What’s funny is that the Ethics Committee itself approved the course Newt taught, the same course that started this whole “ethics violation” farce. Newt wasn’t even paid for the course. In any case, I am not getting into all the details of the whole ethics violation mess, and the incredible double standard shown, since that would warrant a separate blog. I just find it odd that the Ethics Committee turned around and slammed Newt with a $300,000 penalty for something that they had approved! In addition, if a reprimand was enough “punishment” for Barney Frank, who was charged by the same committee with fixing 30 parking tickets, and writing a misleading probation letter on behalf of child pornographer, cocaine dealer, male prostitute and lover Steven Gobie, why did Newt get slammed with such a harsher penalty?
The only reason that Rep. David Bonior and other Democrats filed 75 ethics charges against Speaker Gingrich in the first place is because Newt filed and forced former Democrat Speaker Jim Wright to resign in 1988. The whole ethics violation farce was about nothing but revenge. Bonior and the Democrats wanted revenge for Jim Wright and for losing the House in 1994 and 1996.
Newt could have legally used campaign funds or a defense trust fund to pay the ethics penalty or sued the lawyers who he said misled him into what he calls a technical ethics violation. He has the legal right to do any of those things. But did he? No. Gingrich said he and his wife decided he had “a moral obligation to pay the $300,000 out of personal funds.” So, he took out an 8 year loan at prime plus 1.5 – which was about 10% interest. By taking out this type of loan from Dole, not only would he be relieving the taxpayers of paying for the penalty fine, but Newt would then not be beholden to any bank, lending institute, etc. Thus, he wouldn’t have to worry about conflicts every time a banking issue came before him.
The attacks, both personally and professionally were capitol hill payback. In May 1988, Gingrich, along with 77 other House members, brought ethics charges against Democratic Speaker Jim Wright, who was alleged to have used a book deal to circumvent campaign-finance laws and House ethics rules. Nine years later, “the Hill” sought their revenge.
In the summer of 1997 several House Republicans attempted to replace Newt as Speaker, claiming Gingrich’s public image was a liability. The attempted “coup” began July 9 with a meeting of Republican conference chairman John Boehner of Ohio and Republican leadership chairman Bill Paxon of New York. (John Boehners judgment has always been questionable)
On July 11, Gingrich met with senior Republican leadership to assess the situation. He explained that under no circumstance would he step down. If he was voted out, there would be a new election for Speaker, which would allow for the possibility that Democrats—along with dissenting Republicans—would vote in Dick Gephardt (a Democrat) as Speaker.
Democrats blamed Newt for the government shutdown of 1994-95. Gingrich and the incoming Republican majority’s promise to slow the rate of government spending conflicted with the president’s agenda for Medicare, education, the environment and public health, leading to a temporary shutdown of the federal government. Republican amendments would have limited appeals by death-row inmates, made it harder to issue health, safety and environmental regulations, and would have committed the president to a seven-year balanced budget. During the crisis, Gingrich’s public image suffered from the perception that the Republicans’ hardline budget stance owed partly to a snub by Clinton during the flight to and from Israeli leader Rabin’s funeral in Israel. That perception developed after the trip when Gingrich told reporters he was dissatisfied that Clinton had not invited him to discuss the budget during the flight. He complained of being instructed to use the plane’s rear exit to deplane, saying the snub was “part of why you ended up with us sending down a tougher continuing resolution”.
Newt “caused the government to get shut down by holding President Clintons feet to the fire”, and bringing charges against Clinton for sexual misconduct in the White House. While the Republicans still maintained majority control of the United States House of Representatives after the 1998 midterm elections, they would also lose a large number of seats to the Democrats in this election as well. Shortly after the mid-term elections, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, who was one of the people leading the impeachment proceedings against Clinton, announced he would resign from Congress as soon as he was able to find somebody to fill his vacant seat; Gingrich fulfilled this pledge and officially resigned from Congress on January 25, 1999. During the impeachment process, Gingrich’s private polls suggested that Clinton’s scandal would result in the GOP gaining six to thirty seats in the US House of Representatives in the 1998 midterm election.
Republicans lost five seats in the House in the 1998 elections—the worst midterm performance in 64 years for a party that didn’t hold the presidency. Polls showed that the attempt to remove President Clinton from office, by Gingrich and the Republican Party, was deeply unpopular among voters. Gingrich suffered much of the blame for the election loss. Facing a rebellion in the Republican caucus, he announced on November 5, 1998, that he would not only stand down as Speaker, but would leave the House as well.Gingrich made this announcement only a day after being elected to an 11th term from his district. Commenting on his departure, Gingrich said, “I’m willing to lead but I’m not willing to preside over people who are cannibals. My only fear would be that if I tried to stay, it would just overshadow whoever my successor is.”