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January 25, 2012

"It Was Legal After All:" Gingrich's $300,000 Fine & Reprimand Turned Out To Be Over Behavior Later Found To Be Completely Legal By the IRS

I don't understand why he'd confess to any wrongdoing, then.

With the charges against Gingrich megaphoned in the press, Gingrich and Republicans were under intense pressure to end the ordeal. In January, 1997, Gingrich agreed to make a limited confession of wrongdoing in which he pleaded guilty to the previously unknown offense of failing to seek sufficiently detailed advice from a tax lawyer before proceeding with the course. (Gingrich had in fact sought advice from two such lawyers in relation to the course.) Gingrich also admitted that he had provided "inaccurate, incomplete, and unreliable" information to Ethics Committee investigators. That "inaccurate" information was Gingrich's contention that the course was not political -- a claim Cole and the committee did not accept, but the IRS later would.

In return for those admissions, the House reprimanded Gingrich and levied an unprecedented $300,000 fine. The size of the penalty was not so much about the misdeed itself but the fact that the Speaker was involved in it.

Why did Gingrich admit wrongdoing? "The atmosphere at the time was so rancorous, partisan, and personal that everyone, including Newt, was desperately seeking a way to end the whole thing," Gingrich attorney Jan Baran told me in 1999. "He was admitting to whatever he could to get the case over with."

If you read further, you'll see the IRS completely vindicated him (and went further than "we can't prove our case;" they deemed the courses non-political and therefore proper). So I don't understand why Gingrich would then admit to lesser charges. This wasn't a slap on the wrist; this was a $300,000 fine -- "unprecedented" at the time.

Eh.

Meanwhile, Pelosi continues her "I've got a secret about Newt" song and dance.

Gingrich just responded:

"[laughing] Who knows. Who knows. She lives in a San Francisco environment of very strange fantasies and very strange understandings of reality. I have no idea what's in Nancy Pelosi's head. If she knows something, I have a simple challenge: Spit it out."

I'll just go ahead and tell you my speculation/worry: Someone forwarded some unrelated trash to the Democrats, and Gingrich copped falsely to the stated (false) charges to make it all go away. And that's what Pelosi is sitting there grinning like an idiot about.



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posted by Ace at 10:24 AM

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