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Gingrich Fundraising Also Raises Ethics Questions

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo

But more than half of that money — some $15.6 million — was spent on fundraising, including events, direct mail and telemarketing aimed at collecting money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Gingrich’s campaign, too, is top-heavy with fundraising expenditures, a good chunk of them going to his daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman. Her Atlanta-based firm, Cushman Enterprises, has received $34,322 from the Gingrich campaign, according to the most recent public records, making her its top-grossing fundraising vendor. Another campaign vendor is Gingrich Productions, the media production firm whose president is Gingrich’s wife, Callista.

“Newt, Inc., is a family business and always has been — even when the family members were different,” noted Pitney.

Gingrich campaign officials did not respond to emailed requests for comment. Romney has sought to make hay out of Gingrich’s past ethics troubles, releasing an ad declaring that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) is prepared to release “secret” and “damaging” information relating to the ethics scandal that cost Gingrich $300,000 and his speakership.

Pelosi has rejected that notion, stating that her Gingrich information is all in the public record.

Thus far, Gingrich and his backers have struggled to even come close to matching Romney dollar for dollar in Florida and elsewhere. Winning Our Future announced plans to spend $6 million in Florida before the Jan. 31 primary, but as of today, media trackers had tallied only $2.5 million in radio and TV expenditures, according to the New York Times.

“We are very aggressively pursuing a strategy that will push us all the way to the nomination,” said Phillips, at Winning Our Future. The super PAC has a comprehensive strategic plan involving TV, radio, email, digital media and voter identification and turnout, he said.

The Gingrich campaign raised $2 million in short order in the days following his South Carolina primary win, thanks in part to a seven-figure Internet “money bomb,” but the campaign’s Florida media buys going into the weekend totaled only about $1 million. Combined spending by the Romney campaign and by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, by contrast, has topped $15 million.

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