Tags: Tiffanys | Gingrich | committee | lobby

Gingrich and Wife’s Tiffany Credit Debacle Grows

By Andra Varin   |   Thursday, 26 May 2011 11:58 AM

The tale of the Gingriches’ Tiffany account just took an interesting twist. At the same time that Tiffany & Co. was extending an interest-free line of credit to Newt Gingrich’s wife, Callista, the big-name jeweler was spending major money trying to influence the congressional committee where she worked, the Spy Talk blog reported Wednesday.

Tiffany, Gingrich, Callista, NewtTiffany was lobbying the House Agriculture Committee, where Callista w as chief clerk, over mining policy, according to Spy Talk. Silver mining is of major interest to the jewelry company.

“Tiffany's annual lobbying expenditures rose from about $100,000 to $360,000 between 2005 and 2009, according to records assembled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan government watchdog organization," Spy Talk's Jeff Stein wrote.

Tiffany's issued a statement Friday denying they lobbied the Agriculture Committee. No one at the company ever lobbied Gingrich or his wife about the mining policy, the comapny said.

"Our focus has been on the Natural Resources Committee which has jurisdiction over these matters. The one and only meeting with the Forest Service on the matter of Mining Law reform was in response to an invitation by Dale Bosworth, Chief of the Forest Service, as a result of our Open Letter to him in the Washington Post that appeared on March 24, 2004," the company's statement read.

"To re-iterate, there is nothing unusual or extraordinary about the credit extended to Speaker Gingrich. Last year, Tiffany & Co. extended credit to over 1,000 customers on identical terms," the company said.

The Gingriches have reported that they incurred $250,001 and $500,000 worth of debts on a revolving Tiffany charge account during 2005-2006. The former House speaker, now seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, says there was no preferential treatment in the no-interest account.

After the latest revelation, a Gingrich aide told CBS News there was no “special deal.”

"They got [an] interest free loan for 12 months. Not a special deal. Tiffany's gives out 12-month interest free-financing for purchases over $5,000 or any engagement ring over $1,000. That's just their policy, and the Gingriches took advantage of that deal," the aide said.

Tiffany & Co. said it offers a standard revolving credit-card agreement, which charges state-specified interest rates. Customers also can apply for a Tiffany Time Account, which allows interest-free borrowing for up to one year.

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