Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s habit of dropping thousands of dollars at luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. drew the attention of staffers, who feared it could become a political liability. The GOP presidential candidate spent not only as much as $300,000 on gifts for his wife, Callista, selected on an annual Tiffany cruise on the Potomac River but also $40,000 on Christmas gifts for up to 100 employees over a four-year period, sources told The Washington Post
The spending first came to light on financial disclosure forms filed that former congressional staffer Callista Gingrich filed, revealing a line of credit at Tiffany’s of $250,000 to $500,000. Later revelations showed a second line of credit for $1 million, the Post reported.
At annual Christmas dinners for employees, small Tiffany boxes were left at each place setting. The gifts were worth about $100 each. The Gingrich largesse also included bonuses of 20 percent of salary and generous contributions to pension funds. “The Gingriches have always been extremely generous with their staff, from bonuses and pension fund contributions to the Christmas gifts in Tiffany boxes,” former campaign spokesman Rick Tyler told the Post. “I think those gifts were always appreciated.”
Gingrich’s participation in the Potomac cruises with a select group of 20 or so other Tiffany customers first came to light in 2004 and became an annual outing for the couple to choose Callista’s Christmas presents, sources told the Post.
The Tiffany purchases caused further concern among staffers when some Gingrich companies encountered financial problems in 2008 and bonuses and pension contributions were reduced or eliminated. The cutbacks in benefits occurred even though the Gingriches continued to use personal funds for Tiffany items, the Post reported.
Gingrich campaign spokesman Joe DeSantis dismissed the accounts of former employees and declined to address the details. “Class warfare does not create jobs,” the Post quotes him as saying in an email to the newspaper. “Newt’s Jobs and Prosperity Plan will.”
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