Under pressure from rival Mitt Romney, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has released two lucrative contracts for work he did between 1999 and 2007 for mortgage giant Freddie Mac, which has been blamed for contributing to the housing crisis. The second document, which Gingrich's consulting firm made public Tuesday, specifically states that Gingrich must avoid attempting to influence other politicians directly, but it does charge him with advising the now-"toxic" lender's chief lobbyist. Will Gingrich's Freddie Mac contracts damage his campaign?
No question, this will cost Newt: All the attention focused on Gingrich's work for Freddie Mac couldn't come at a worse time for him, says Nate Silver at The New York Times. He and Romney are in a tight battle for Florida, which was hit hard by the housing meltdown and "could be pivotal in the Republican nomination campaign." The contracts contain no new bombshells, but the former House speaker's link to Freddie Mac is one of his biggest liabilities, so every time it makes headlines Gingrich's odds go down.
"The Florida state of play"
It shouldn't — he did nothing wrong: Gingrich could have picked his clients more carefully, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. But "no one has accused [him] of actually violating the laws governing" lobbying, which is, by the way, a constitutionally protected form of free speech. If anything, we should be congratulating Gingrich for turning his expertise and passion for public policy into "a successful business," not condemning him when he's done nothing wrong.
"Second Freddie contract required Gingrich to meet with 'major stakeholders' to discuss 'business and public policy issues'"
These documents certainly won't help Newt: If Gingrich hoped that releasing the contracts would "put the issue to rest," says Chris Frates at National Journal, he's going to be disappointed. If nothing else, these ambiguously worded documents make it clear Freddie Mac didn't hire Gingrich as a "historian," as he first claimed, but as a strategist for its top lobbyists. That alone is enough to give voters pause.
"What Gingrich's Freddie Mac ties mean for voters"