Photo: Pete Souza via Wikimedia
One of GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s favourite lines is that he is “running on ideas.” And indeed, he has a reputation as an ideas man in Washington, D.C.Gingrich has an opinion on — and a plan for — everything from offshore oil drilling and immigration to infrastructure spending and spaceflight.
But ideas alone don’t fund presidential ambitions. They can’t buy plane tickets and tour buses, much less Greek cruises or a $500,000 credit line at Tiffany’s.
Gingrich’s total assets were valued at between $6.7 million and $30.7 million in 2010. He has written 23 books and produced eight documentaries with his wife. He commands between $40,000 and $50,000 per speech.
So how does Gingrich do it?
The former Speaker of the House has financed his operations by creating a large network of for-profit and nonprofit organisations which directly and indirectly spread the gospel according to Newt. All told, the former Georgia Republican congressman held no fewer than 25 titles, positions and occupations before running for president, according to a CNN report.
The majority of Gingrich’s assets come from his numerous name-branded, for-profit groups: The Gingrich Group, Gingrich Communications, Gingrich Productions and Gingrich Holdings. He uses these companies to produce, distribute and supplement his prolific output of books, documentaries and public speeches.
Relations between the corporations are cozy. For example, in his July financial disclosures Gingrich declared a “promissory note” from the Gingrich Group, LLC to Gingrich Productions, Inc., valued somewhere between $5 million and $25 million.
The former Georgia congressman is CEO and chairman of the Gingrich Group, a communications and consulting firm he founded in 1999 after leaving office. One of the company’s first clients was Freddie Mac. A spokesperson for the mortgage lender said Ginrgich was hired “to provide strategic counsel on a range of issues that we’re facing related to policy and the industry.”
Gingrich later criticised the bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying it was “a tragedy” that the lending giants “had so many politicians beholden to them.”
Gingrich Productions, which “provides talent for audio, video and photographic productions,” paid its namesake more than $2.4 million in distributions last year and is valued at between $500,000 and $1 million. Gingrich’s wife, Callista, heads the company and is the creative force behind its many documentaries, all of which feature her and Newt.
The films have been financed in part by Citzens United, the conservative nonprofit group that last year won the Supreme Court case establishing corporations’ right to free speech through political contributions.
Gingrich also collected approximately $72,000 last year from a Florida talent agency, The Lubbers Agency, Inc., which also lists him as a director. Lubbers, presumably, refers to his daughter Kathy Gingrich Lubbers, who also leads Gingrich Communications.
Gingrich Communications is the marketing and media arm of Gingrich’s operations. It publishes The Americano, an online news site offering “a more balanced view on all the issues that concern American Hispanics today.” The Americano’s editor-in-chief, Sylvia Garcia, also works on Hispanic inclusion issues for Gingrich’s presidential campaign.
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