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As you read this, the House Ethics Committee is moving toward
hiring an outside counsel to investigate charges against Speaker of
the House Newt Gingrich.

As Mother Jones has reported over the last year, Gingrich
constructed an illegal fundraising machine that enabled him to flout
federal campaign laws and misuse the tax-exempt status allowed
charities. The machine consisted of Gingrich’s political action
committee, GOPAC; his think tank, the Progress & Freedom
Foundation; and his televised college course, “Renewing American
Civilization.” These intertwined projects made up a stealth
organization that sponsored congressional candidates who would be
loyal to Gingrich. As far back as 1986, current Republican
presidential candidate Lamar Alexander understood Gingrich was
using GOPAC for this purpose (see documents below).

In addition to the ethics charges pending against Gingrich, the
Federal Election Commission is suing GOPAC for evading campaign
finance laws. Among the evidence the FEC has presented in U.S.
District Court is a

leaked
list of major GOPAC donors
annotated by
Mother Jones. The list includes many donors who appear to have
received political paybacks. (For details on yet another Gingrich
organization through which donors may be trying to buy influence, see
Reading between the lines.)

To show that the speaker of the House is not above the law, the
Ethics Committee must appoint an independent, outside counsel, and
must place no limits on the scope of the investigation. Specifically,
the counsel needs to get a complete accounting of all the money
Gingrich’s various enterprises took in and spent. Anything less will
open the Ethics Committee to charges of a cover-up.

Under Gingrich’s control, GOPAC refused to release its finances,
claiming it funded mostly local and state campaigns and therefore
didn’t need to comply with federal laws. But a leaked 1986
correspondence between Gingrich, then-Tennessee Gov. Lamar
Alexander, and Alexander fundraiser Ted Welch suggests otherwise:


From Newt Gingrich to Ted Welch:

“It’s our job to help our party to become competitive in the
additional districts it will take to allow us to capture a majority
in the U.S. House–some 50 in all. We work in conjunction with the
National Congressional Committee, and our program has the hearty
endorsement of President Reagan and other Republican leaders.”
–Newt Gingrich

From Lamar Alexander to Newt
Gingrich:

“This suggestion is that you are now busy electing
congressmen, instead of [state] legislators…. The last
thing we need is another operation promoting senators and
congressmen.” –Lamar Alexander

Click on the above letters to see the full-sized, scanned image
of each.

Want more on Newt? Check out Newt-O-Rama.
It contains links
to all our stuff on our favorite Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.
For more on Lamar Alexander’s presidential bid, or for news
on any candidate, visit The
Race for the White House
.

See Hot!Media for more resources.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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