It’s no secret Gingrich did consulting work for Freddie Mac, though earlier reports may have grossly understated the amount of money he received, according to Bloomberg. The consulting position itself is forgivable, but what he actually did as a consultant is still unclear. Gingrich says he tried to warn the company about their lending practices. Freddie Mac sources in the Bloomberg piece dispute that:
What he did for the money is a subject of disagreement. Gingrich said during the CNBC debate that he advised the troubled firm as a “historian.” Gingrich said he warned that the company’s business model was a “bubble” and its lending practices were “insane.”
None of the former Freddie Mac officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said Gingrich raised the issue of the housing bubble or was critical of Freddie Mac’s business model.
The anonymous Freddie Mac officials didn’t provide any documents, memos or specific details that conflict with Gingrich’s story, so right now it’s just Newt’s word against theirs. And who knows what motives they may have here. If their allegations are accurate, it should be easy enough to provide supporting evidence.
Gingrich, by the way, has an inconvenient history of criticizing Democrats for taking money from Freddie Mac. His opponents are sure to make an issue out of comments like these:
“I think Senator McCain should have turned and said, ‘Senator Obama, are you prepared to give back all the money that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae gave to you? Are you prepared to fire your housing adviser, who was paid $90 million over six years while helping ruin Fannie Mae? Are you prepared to fire your adviser, who is the former head of Fannie Mae, Mr. Johnson? Are you prepared to dissociate yourself from Chris Dodd, who was the highest recipient of money from Fannie Mae? And who, by the way, as you know, was also getting a below-market loan from Countrywide before they went broke.”
To be fair, Obama and Dodd taking political donations from Freddie and Fannie while serving in Congress is very different from Gingrich taking a salary as a private citizen and paid consultant. But it’s an easy hit on Newt, ties into the whole “flip-flopping” narrative against him, and will no doubt be pounced on by his critics.