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Was Gingrich a Lobbyist?

In the sense that he had to register as one, no. But as we know from President Obama, there’s a lot of latitude in how some politicians define the term “lobbyist.” Tim Carney reports that Newt Gingrich once qualified as a lobbyist because he met the two requirements: he was a paid consultant for pharmaceutical companies, and he worked to persuade lawmakers to support the companies’ interests:

While some consultants simply provide strategy or advice, Gingrich directly contacted lawmakers in an effort to win their votes.

Three former Republican congressional staffers told me that Gingrich was calling around Capitol Hill and visiting Republican congressmen in 2003 in an effort to convince conservatives to support a bill expanding Medicare to include prescription-drug subsidies. …

Two aides to other GOP members who had been resisting the bill told me their bosses were lobbied by Gingrich over the phone, sometimes citing politics, sometimes citing substance. And it worked. “Newt Gingrich moved votes on the prescription-drug bill,” one conservative staffer told me. “That’s for sure.”

Gingrich’s lobbying past is a problem for two reasons. First, at least one of the issues he pushed for – Medicare prescription drug subsidies – put him at odds with many conservatives in 2003. At the time, Time magazine reported on how Gingrich twisted arms behind the scenes to win over votes:

Three days before the House vote, GOP leaders brought in Gingrich for a private session to help win over conservative congressmen opposed to the measure’s high cost. Gingrich argued that the $400 billion prescription-drug benefit was balanced by a Medicare overhaul, long sought by conservatives. In at least enough cases, says a senior House Republican aide, Gingrich “gave them the rationale to vote for it.”

The second problem is this is yet another example of Gingrich’s aversion to truth. He said on Fox News last week:  “I do no lobbying of any kind. I never have. A very important point to make. I have never done lobbying of any kind.”

If his actions in 2003 weren’t lobbying, then nothing is. Either Gingrich is excellent at self-deception, or he’s intentionally misrepresenting himself.


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