The Washington Post and ABC News — among others — have been raking Newt Gingrich over the coals for money his think tank, the Center for Health Transformation, received from various members over the last several years.
Per the Post:
The center attracted a long list of global health-care firms and interest groups, which paid $5,000 to $200,000 a year, based on their size, to be members. Based on archived membership lists going back to 2003, that means the center brought in as much as $6.25 million per year from higher-level members giving $50,000 or more, totaling at least $37 million since 2003.
ABC targeted the $1.8 million in consulting fees Gingrich received from federally backed mortgage company Freddie Mac:
Through Gingrich Group, the former House speaker consulted for reportedly $1.8 million for eight years for Freddie Mac, the federally backed mortgage giant that most conservatives say should be eliminated. While Gingrich has denied lobbying for them, he hasn’t provided a viable explanation of what kind of services he provided to an organization that he himself recently said should be abolished.
Note the content of the attack: the two outlets are saying Gingrich’s private think-tank, which did no lobbying, made money and did nothing illegal. So in two separate hit pieces, ABC and Washington Post have made the startling claim that Gingrich made money as a private citizen and did so legally and ethically.
Moreover, the center disclosed its membership list — which it is not required to do.
The connections with Washington insiders and multi-million dollar corporations makes it hard for Gingrich to cast himself as an outsider and clouds his “new Newt” campaign, experts say.
“Even if there’s no ethical or legal impropriety, the optics are bad,” said John Pitney Jr., politics professor at Claremont McKenna College who worked for Gingrich.
In other words: a man who spent decades in Washington, D.C., should be castigated for — knowing people. Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told PJMedia:
Newt believes it’s important to be upfront and transparent. Newt has said if you’re running for the highest office in the nation you should expect to answer any questions people have.
Gingrich seems to be upfront about disclosing where his money comes from. Meanwhile, two other groups which do not receive such scrutiny from the MSM have not been as transparent as Gingrich — indeed, his group filed the disclosure form which gave ABC and the Washington Post the data for their articles. John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, which figured prominently in the 2008 transition for current President Barack Obama, is anything but transparent. As Politico noted then:
The think tank, the Center for American Progress, and its president, John Podesta, are uniquely integrated with the transition. Podesta, on leave from the Center for American Progress (CAP), heads the transition operation. The transition’s operations director, general counsel, and co-director all shifted from similar jobs at CAP, and the transition is full of lower-level former CAP staffers or current board members.
CAP does not disclose its donors.
Neither does Media Matters, believed to be funded by George Soros. Radley Balko noted in March:
So I just noticed the Media Matters “Transparency” project today after clicking over from another site. It lists the major donors to all sorts of conservative and libertarian organizations, including my current and previous employers, Reason and Cato.
As I’ve noted before, both Reason and Cato already list their major donors in their annual reports. At Reason, we also publish the names of everyone who has given the Reason Foundation at least $1,000 each year in the magazine.
But here’s what you won’t find on the Media Matters “Transparency” website, or on the main Media Matters site: a list of the names of the major donors to Media Matters. They keep that secret. As do the various “Progress” groups, who also regularly criticize conservative and free market organizations as being secret front groups for major donors and corporations.
Again, these organizations are doing nothing illegal, immoral, or unethical by refusing to release the names of their donors — nor was Gingrich doing anything illegal, immoral, or unethical by using the contacts he made while speaker of the House to earn a living.