The Speaker And The Southern Bell

NEWT GINGRICH'S DAUGHTER Jackie is in the middle of an increasingly nasty war over telecom reform, which pits the regional Bell carriers against long-distance companies such as AT&T. Jackie Zyla, 28, started work in BellSouth's cellular division just after the GOP sweep last November. Long-distance lobbyists are buzzing all over that this is one reason Gingrich is cozy with BellSouth, which serves his district. "The fix is in," carps one.

Recently, Gingrich upset the long-distance carriers by changing the House telecom bill--set to go to the floor before the Aug. 4 recess--to make it easier for the Bells to get into the long-distance business but harder for the long-distance companies to get into the Bells' business.

A BellSouth spokesman says it had no idea Zyla was Gingrich's daughter until Gingrich mentioned it to BellSouth Chairman John Clendenin at an impromptu meeting a few weeks after she was hired. Gingrich spokesman Tony Blankley dismisses talk that Newt's decision was affected by his daughter's job.

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