Reminder: Newt Gingrich is the ONLY Speaker of the House Ever Disciplined for Ethics Violations

By Gary P Jackson

I feel it’s fitting, with all of the talk about corruption in Washington, to remind people that Newt Gingrich has been wallowing in the same cesspool as the rest of the bunch, for decades.

In the 222 year history of the United States House of Representatives, only one Speaker of the House has faced official reprimand for ethics violations. That Speaker was Newt Gingrich.

Now over the years we’ve seen all of the corrupt, unethical dealing members of Congress engage in. No matter how bad the violation, it’s almost impossible to see any of them actually taken to the woodshed, no matter how loudly the voters protest. And yet, Newt was hammered.

And before readers start leaving comments saying this was just a payback of some sorts, please remember, the sanctions against Newt Gingrich took place in 1997, over a year before the Monica Lewinsky scandal was revealed to the American people.

From the Washington Post, January 22, 1997:

The House voted overwhelmingly yesterday to reprimand House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and order him to pay an unprecedented $300,000 penalty, the first time in the House’s 208-year history it has disciplined a speaker for ethical wrongdoing.

The ethics case and its resolution leave Gingrich with little leeway for future personal controversies, House Republicans said. Exactly one month before yesterday’s vote, Gingrich admitted that he brought discredit to the House and broke its rules by failing to ensure that financing for two projects would not violate federal tax law and by giving the House ethics committee false information.

Newt has done some things that have embarrassed House Republicans and embarrassed the House,” said Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.). “If [the voters] see more of that, they will question our judgment.”

House Democrats are likely to continue to press other ethics charges against Gingrich and the Internal Revenue Service is looking into matters related to the case that came to an end yesterday.

The 395 to 28 vote closes a tumultuous chapter that began Sept. 7, 1994, when former representative Ben Jones (D-Ga.), then running against Gingrich, filed an ethics complaint against the then-GOP whip. The complaint took on greater significance when the Republicans took control of the House for the first time in four decades, propelling Gingrich into the speaker’s chair.

With so much at stake for each side — the survival of the GOP’s speaker and the Democrats’ hopes of regaining control of the House — partisanship strained the ethics process nearly to the breaking point.

All but two of the votes against the punishment were cast by Republicans, including Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (Md.), many of whom said they believed the sanction — especially the financial penalty — was too severe.

Two Democrats, Reps. Earl F. Hilliard (Ala.) and Gene Taylor (Miss.), voted against the punishment. Taylor said the measure should have specified that the $300,000 come from personal funds, not campaign coffers or a legal expense fund. Hilliard did not return telephone calls.

In addition, five Democrats voted “present,” many of them saying they believed the sanction was not severe enough. “If Newt Gingrich did what they said he did, he should have been censured,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), one of the five who voted “present.” A censure, second only in severity to expulsion, would have threatened Gingrich’s speakership.

House ethics committee members took pride in yesterday’s bipartisan resolution of the case. “We have proved to the American people that no matter how rough the process is, we can police ourselves, we do know right from wrong,” said Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), who headed the investigative subcommittee that charged Gingrich.

But even as they brought the case to a close, committee Republicans and Democrats traded potshots over the chaos of the last two weeks, during which an agreement for lengthy televised hearings collapsed amid partisan bickering.

The ethics case added to the last congressional session’s fierce partisanship, as Democrats sought to embarrass House Republicans with it in last year’s elections. Lawmakers in both parties said they hope the vote to punish Gingrich will help ease those tensions.

If our action today fails to chasten this body and bring a halt to the crippling partisanship and animosity that has surrounded us, then we will have lost an opportunity,” said Rep. Nancy L. Johnson (R-Conn.), ethics committee chairman.

Similarly, President Clinton, when asked about the matter, said: “The House should do its business and then we should get back to the people’s business.

For Gingrich, it was another humbling event in a remarkable series of peaks and valleys since 1994. That year, he led his party to the promised land of control of the House and Senate, only to threaten it when he was blamed for two partial government shutdowns during the battle over the budget, making him seem reckless. Then he complained about his treatment on a long flight aboard Air Force One, making him seem petty. The GOP narrowly retained its House majority last November, giving him a brief reprieve. The next month, he admitted to the charges brought by the ethics subcommittee.

The speaker was barely visible yesterday, staying away from the House floor during the 90-minute debate and vote on his punishment. He was in his office and did not watch the proceedings on television, according to spokeswoman Lauren Maddox. Gingrich left late yesterday afternoon for a two-day GOP House leadership retreat at Airlie Farm and Conference Center in Fauquier County, Va. As he left, he was asked if he was glad the case was over. He smiled broadly and said “yes.

House Democrats had considered trying to force a vote yesterday on reconsidering Gingrich’s Jan. 7 reelection as speaker — the first for a Republican in 68 years — but decided against it, fearing it would distract from the harsh punishment being meted out. In addition, Democrats believe enough damaging information has been presented to tarnish the speaker, Democratic leadership aides said.

This is not a vote on whether Mr. Gingrich should remain speaker,” said Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (Md.), the ethics panel’s top Democrat in the Gingrich case. “In the days and weeks to come, Mr. Gingrich and each member of this House should consider how these charges bear on the question of his speakership.

In a strongly worded report, special counsel James M. Cole concluded that Gingrich had violated tax law and lied to the investigating panel, but the subcommittee would not go that far. In exchange for the subcommittee agreeing to modify the charges against him, Gingrich agreed to the penalty Dec. 20 as part of a deal in which he admitted guilt.

Johnson called the reprimand and financial penalty “tough and unprecedented. It is also appropriate,” she said. “No one is above the rules of the House.“

The ethics committee that handled the charges against Gingrich went out of business at midnight last night without resolving complaints that the speaker received improper gifts, contributions and support from GOPAC, the political action committee he once headed. House Democrats are likely to submit those charges to the new ethics committee.

In addition, the Internal Revenue Service is looking into the use of tax-deductible charitable contributions to finance the college course Gingrich taught, which was at the center of the ethics case, and the ethics committee is making the material it gathered available to the tax agency.

At a closed-door meeting of House Republicans yesterday morning, the speaker noted his agreement to accept the sanction, which the ethics committee approved on a 7 to 1 vote Friday night, and said he wanted to get the matter behind him, according to lawmakers who attended.

Many House Republicans said they had trouble reconciling their leaders’ characterization of Gingrich’s rules violations as tantamount to a jaywalking ticket and the magnitude of the penalty. “That argument loses its steam [when] you talk about $300,000,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) said that had he known what was in the ethics committee’s report, he would not have voted for Gingrich as speaker. “The gray got grayer when you read the report,” he said. “When I think of my three boys and what kind of example I want to set for them for leadership in this country, gray is not the example.

Other politicians, included some with their own legal problems, came to Newt’s defense:

I was willing to swallow hard and vote for the reprimand, but when they add the $300,000 assessment . . . that’s excessive,” said House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Dan Burton (R-Ind.), one of three committee chairmen to vote against the punishment.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), who cast the lone dissenting vote on the ethics committee, said of Gingrich’s violations: “They are real mistakes but they shouldn’t be hanging offenses.”

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) gave a spirited speech calling the penalty unwarranted. Answering those who said a speaker should be held to a higher standard of ethical conduct, DeLay said: “The highest possible standard does not mean an impossible standard no American could possibly reach.” He closed by declaring: “Let’s stop this madness, let’s stop the cannibalism.

The last phrase echoed the May 31, 1989, resignation speech of House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.), who called on lawmakers “to bring this period of mindless cannibalism to an end.” Wright resigned in an ethics scandal triggered by a complaint filed by Gingrich.

There’s more:

Despite the partisanship that surrounded the Gingrich ethics case for more than two years, DeLay’s speech provided the only spark of yesterday’s debate. With Gingrich willing to accept the punishment, the outcome was never in doubt.

Still, more lawmakers were on the floor than for the average House debate; many of them were reading Cole’s report. Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-Neb.), presiding over the debate, took the unusual step of reading aloud from the House rule that admonishes lawmakers to “maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect” at all times.

As they have since Gingrich publicly admitted to the charges Dec. 21, Republicans sought to minimize the speaker’s misdeeds while Democrats tried to make them more sinister.

Rep. Steven Schiff (R-N.M.), a member of the ethics investigative subcommittee that charged Gingrich, called the speaker’s submission of false information to the panel “a comedy of errors.” But Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called it a “violation of trust. . . . We trust each other that we will deal truthfully with each other.

Republicans also sought to portray the question of using charitable donations to finance projects that appeared to have a political intent as a matter of unsettled tax law. But Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer (D-Ohio), a member of the ethics panel, countered that “ethical behavior may be more important when the lines are blurred than when they are clear.

Read more here.

Newt is a candidate for President of these United States. His record is that of the exact sort of corrupt low life we are trying to expose and run out of elected office forever. That Americans are actually considering this corrupt man for office again, is a national tragedy.

Newt was, is, and will always be, part of the problem, not the solution.

America can do better. It MUST do better than Newt Gingrich.

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25 Comments

Filed under In The News, Politics

25 responses to “Reminder: Newt Gingrich is the ONLY Speaker of the House Ever Disciplined for Ethics Violations

  1. AJ Steele

    At some point (or maybe not) you should chose someone you will back
    for POTU. It should be considered that some individuals have made
    their peace with God for whatever wrong doings. None of these people running are perfect, nor was Sarah Palin. She was close, but anyway, she’s not running. Newt Gingrich is very flawed but does that mean he is the same man today as from even the late 90s. by the way he was convicted of one charge. I’m not neccesarily supporting Gingrich but lets look at the layout.

    Romney: flip flopper/non-true conservative
    Gingrich: ethics violations/adultry
    Cain: inexperienced/lingering allegations
    Bachmann: husband controled/shakey policies
    Paul: weak on defense/unelectable
    Santorum: smart, conservative/likely unelectable
    Perry: from Texas/weak debater
    Huntsman: forget it

    This is what we have to deal with. We are all flawed. Some flaws are worse than others. Some people can change, and how they do that can only be demonstrated. I’m glad I had a chance to change in my life. I understand the importance of the position. I really don’t see anyone else entering the race. Do you? You either back one of these candidates or your guaranteed Obama again.

    It’s a matter of picking your poison. You can talk all about the wrongness of people but the fact is that you either select one of these flawed
    candidates or you end up with almost all the aforementioned flaws with
    Obama. I’d like to see some positive “spin” on who conservatives are coming to terms with. Put the cards on the table and lets see who’s really backing who. Peace.

    backing who

    doubled with Obama. i’d like to see some

    • Gary P

      Newt Gingrich is EXACTLY the same as he’s always been. He still supports all kinds of left wing, Big Government nonsense. The man is a con artist and saying what he thinks conservatives want to hear. He doesn’t actually believe a word of the bullshit he’s saying.

      Remember, as of May THIS YEAR, Newt was extolling the virtues of GOVERNMENT MANDATED health insurance.

      No way in hell is Newt presidential material, and least not in America. Newt is a Statist technocrat and a technocrat is nothing more than a Marxist in denial.

      If Newt is the nominee I’ll work 24/7 to defeat him. America wouldn’t survive this idiot. At least not in a recognizable way.

      Newt is corrupt and the exact sort of weasel we are trying to run out of government forever, not put back in office!

  2. AJ Steele

    Just for clarity. I should not have said Obama has all the flaws of the Republican canidates (typo). He is simply grossly inexperienced, cluless and liberal.

  3. AJSteele

    But again Gary it’s more of slam the candidates and back no one to defeat Obama. Who are you going to SUPPORT 24/7 to make sure Obama is gone? You make a lot of good points from time to time but it’s time to start talking about who people need to get behind. All you have is the candidates running, THATS IT! I’m not saying Newt is the man. All these candidates have problems and that is something YOU and many of us must accept. Stand for someone.

    • Gary P

      So far I don’t see ANYONE I can support 24/7. None of these cats can beat Obama.

      I will say this, if Newt is the nominee I WILL work 24/7 to stop him. I mean 24/7.

      We haven’t had our first caucus or our first primary, and the election is more than a year away. Why would anyone feel the need to pick a candidate? Seriously, I had someone I backed 24/7 because she was someone I agreed with 100% and had an actual record to back up the rhetoric.

      No one else does.

      At this point it’s about weeding out the crooks, the liars, and the frauds.

  4. ajsteele

    You should have the need to pick a candidate because these are the only ones running. We know about Gingrich, Romney, Perry, Bachmann, their total negatives. I hope some other candidate comes flying out of the sky that is better then them but it ain’t happen’in. There’s nothing more to weed out, conservatives know who’s who. The independents won’t give a crap about Newt’s baggage or anyone else’s. Yeah I want a strict conservative but outside of possibly Santorum these people don’t cut it. But I will vote for one of them besides Obama, unless I want more years of shear incompetence.
    Like I said, pick your poison, unless you sit it out or God forbid vote for Obama. Your right, there is some time, but in the big picture, not much.

    • Gary P

      I refuse to get behind anyone right now. As Sarah said on Greta’s show tonight, the cream hasn’t risen yet.

      I do know this, there is no way on earth I’ll ever vote for Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry. It just ain’t gonna happen. I could never live with myself.

      The rest we’ll see. The election is a year away, that’s a lifetime in politics.

  5. Carol Cumbie

    We Can Thank the GOP establishment for the wonderful choices we have. I from the beginning believed that Sarah Palin was the only one who could beat Obama. Obama doesn’t play normal politics. Look at what he did to become senator. He had a court ordered divorce file opened. He ended up having no one competing against him.Yet we can see nothing about him and at least one of the people that were suppose to sign off on him says they did not sign the paper. Since it is Obama I guess it is ok anyone else would be beind bars.We had Judges that seem they are more against america then they have for america. Obama has the media and courts backing him. The GOP establishment wanted us all to believe that Sarah could not win which was a out and out lie. Sarah was the only one Obama was afraid of running and that is why they cause a problem any time they could. He knew they had already dug up everything they could and lied woould not work the second time. They tried to destroyed this woman. Without her they know they can finish off america. I don’t care if you are Liberal,Republican, democrat or any of the others you have to know the USA is standing on its last legs.I have alway like the last Bush for the way he has always treated the troops. He was wrong on the bailouts. I belive that Soros is tied into all of that. Soros started in 2004 to destroy the peoples opinion againt him He used Michael Moore. and Alex Jones.What Obama did was beyond wrong. All it did was save union jobs and State positions most of them are just union that would have been lost from less money coming from the fed. It would have showed the money . Some of those banks didn’t even want the money Obama made them take it. If it was really need it should have been done in such a way that help of their profits came back to the government. Frannie and Freddie should have been worked on. They are the ones that cause the worse of what happened and they were allowed to stay the same no changes.It was the car companies that had a bunch of retired employees that if the car companies went under so would their pensions. So very little went to shovel ready that is what Obama was laughing at when he said ” I guess they were not that shovel ready”. They need to be look into along with Barney Frank and his boy friend that was making the big money from Frannie and Freddie. The people in Washington that caused all of this are still there like nothing happened except they are richier. Maxine Walters is still sprouting her mouth about the greatness of Castro. Why hasn’t she investigated for her wrong doing with her husband and the bank. How about the Mrs Sherrod and all the excess money going to black farmers that were not even farmers and never will be farmers. If Obama gets his way there will be not election. When OWS is going on next year around election time Will he call them off and call a state of emerency. We have Politcians that are conservatives that may be fine but if they do what they did to Palin will they hold up. Palin did no wrong. Did we ever she the republican party thank her for her service. Did they try to make things stronger no because she is not the uber elite who are entitled to become president. We had the Chicago mafia put someone up and he wasn’t even look into. Now we have a socialist Marxist in the White House. I may very well be the end of america. That happpens when good people do nothing.

  6. Fed Up with BOzo

    Out of 84 ethic violations (brought forth by the Democrat party), the former Speaker was only charged with one … and now that one has been cleared by the IRS. Quit spreading lies and do some research.

    • Gary P

      Horseshit! Newt admitted his guilt and accepted his punishment. Hell, even the Republicans were glad to get rid of this moron. The day he quit the House was a day of celebration.

      Stop drinking the Koolaid.

      Newt is a vile, corrupt, Big Government liberal.

      • Judith A

        Gary – I agree with you 100%. I just did a refresher on Newt’s history. I think everyone should do the same. He hasn’t changed. He is still the same old arrogant blow hard he was before. If his ego gets any bigger, his self importance will cause him to self destruct. I am tired of him telling everyone just how smart he is.

      • Gary P

        Our biggest task is making sure EVERYONE learns about the REAL Newt Gingrich before it’s too late!

    • Sam

      can you source this?

  7. Pingback: Newt Gingrich is More Dangerous To America Than Obama and I Can Prove It! | A Time For Choosing

  8. I SAY STAND FOR A MAN, CAIN! THE ONLY THING THEY KEEP SLAMMING HIM FOR IS THESE ALLEGATIONS OF THESE CHEEZY WOMEN! REAGAN DIDNT KNOW MUCH ABOUT POLITICS WHEN HE GOT ELECTED BUT….HE SURE MADE ONE HELL OF A PRESIDENT! IF THE LIBS WERE OUT IN FORCE LIKE CAIN, JUST THINK WE WOULDNT HAVE HAD “THE GIPPER!”

    • Gary P

      Cain scares me because of his naivete on foreign policy, as well as total lack of experience, but he’s still better than Newt!

      BTW, I’ve liked Cain, as a real Conservative for years. Just not sure he’s up to the job.

      • buck

        Cain is part of the big banker too big to fail problem we have. No way we need another Federal Reserve proponent. Just look at Geithner.

  9. Bill Jones

    Whether you like Obama or not, no one can still call him inexperienced. Out of all the people running for President, he has 3 more years experience as President than anyone else running. That is a simple fact beyond debate.

  10. When you look up “political sleaze bag” in the dictionary, there is a picture of Newt. Newt will never be president. There are not enough voters, even in the republican right wing nut column, to put this pig in the White House.

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