URBANDALE, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich acknowledged Wednesday that he received personal compensation from Freddie Mac, the federally backed housing agency, but says he doesn't know exactly how much he was paid.
Speaking with reporters while campaigning in Iowa, the former House speaker left open the possibility that his consulting firm received between $1.6 million and $1.8 million over almost a decade. Gingrich said he received a portion of that for providing "strategic advice for a long period of time" after he left Congress.
Bloomberg reported this week that the amount is significantly higher than the $300,000 figure Gingrich cited during a debate last week.
When asked today what his role was on Freddie and Fannie's payroll, Gingrich said, "I was approached to give strategic advice. I was glad to offer strategic advice, and we did it for a number of companies, and Gingrich Group was very successful.”
When a Bloomberg reporter asked whether he was there to be a "friendly" on the board, Gingrich replied, “No, I don’t think that anymore than your institution is being bought by the people who advertise in it.”
Gingrich defended Freddie Mac's role and said every American should be interested in expanding housing opportunities.
Bloomberg reported that Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with Freddie Mac, according to two people familiar with the arrangement.
Gingrich’s business relationship with Freddie Mac spanned eight years. When asked at the debate what he did to earn a $300,000 payment in 2006, the former speaker said he “offered them advice on precisely what they didn’t do,” and warned the company that its lending practices were “insane.” Former Freddie Mac executives who worked with Gingrich dispute that account.
At least one former Freddie executive told Bloomberg that Gingrich did not lobby for the organization, while sevearal others said he was asked to build bridges to Capitol Hill Republicans and develop an argument on behalf of the company’s public-private structure that would resonate with conservatives seeking to dismantle it.
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