Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich rebuked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for suggesting she would offer details of a 1990s ethics probe against him if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee.
Gingrich, who was reprimanded by the House in 1997 after an ethics investigation, said members of Congress should bring charges against Pelosi, herself a former speaker, if she follows through on airing aspects of the probe.
“I want to thank Speaker Pelosi for what I regard as an early Christmas gift,” said Gingrich, taking questions from reporters in New York after meeting yesterday with real estate developer Donald Trump. “It tells you how capriciously political that committee was that she was on it. It tells you how tainted the outcome was that she was on it.”
Pelosi, a California Democrat, told the website Talking Points Memo Dec. 2 that she relished the possibility that Gingrich, who is rising in the polls, might become the Republican nominee
“One of these days we’ll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich,” she said. “I know a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff.”
She declined to say more, adding, “When the time’s right.”
Her spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, said yesterday Pelosi “was clearly referring to the extensive amount of information that is in the public record, including the comprehensive committee report with which the public may not be fully aware.”
Pelosi sat on the panel, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, that concluded Gingrich used tax-exempt contributions for political purposes and then misled congressional investigators about it. The charges stemmed from a college course Gingrich taught from 1993 to 1995 that was linked to GOPAC, his political action committee, in violation of federal laws barring the use of tax-exempt funds for partisan purposes.
Gingrich, 68, said yesterday he had turned over 1 million pages of material for the investigation, and that most of the charges against him were “repudiated as false.” He said that his “one mistake made was a letter written by a lawyer that I didn’t read carefully.”
“I would hope the House would immediately condemn her if she uses any material that was gathered while she was on the Ethics Committee,” he said of Pelosi, 71.
Gingrich served in the House from 1979 to 1999 and was speaker during his last four years in the chamber. Pelosi took office in 1987 and was speaker from 2007 to 2011.
The two appeared together on a loveseat at the foot of the Capitol in a strange-bedfellows 2008 television advertisement calling for action to address climate change, an event Gingrich now calls “the dumbest single thing I’ve done.”
He tried at the time to avoid being paired with Pelosi, telling former Vice President Al Gore, who personally invited him to participate, that appearing with her would be “simply too problematic” given the “current political environment.”
Gingrich’s comments yesterday came after he met with Trump and announced that the host of NBC’s reality television show “The Apprentice,” who earlier this year considered a presidential run, had agreed to create 10 apprenticeships to help poor children earn money.
“We’re looking to help the poorest children in America,” Gingrich told reporters at Manhattan’s Union League Club after a fundraiser. Apprenticeships in New York’s poorest schools are a way to demonstrate the transformative power of holding a job that pays money, he said.
Last month, he suggested before an audience at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that some poor students in failing schools could gain work experience as janitors.
“Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor, and pay local students to take care of the school,” Gingrich said at Harvard. “The kids would actually do the work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools.”
Gingrich, during a campaign stop in Iowa last week, reiterated his proposal, which critics have said could violate child labor laws. “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works,” he said in Iowa.
Gingrich said yesterday his experience in public housing developments began several years ago with a program that paid students $2 for each book they read over summer break.
“You’ll find remarkably few people with work experience” in public housing projects, he said.
Gingrich holds a lead in polls of the Republican race in Iowa, where the first votes in the nomination process will be cast on Jan. 3. He has the support of 25 percent of likely caucus participants in the Iowa Poll released Dec. 3 by the Des Moines Register newspaper. U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas was next, with 18 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 16 percent.
Trump, 65, flirted with entering the Republican race and then announced in May he wouldn’t. He has said he would consider running for the presidency next year as an independent if he is dissatisfied with the eventual Republican nominee.
Trump has met previously with some of the party’s other candidates, including Romney, Texas Governor Rick Perry and U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.