POLITICS

Cementing the case that Gingrich lobbied

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

Again and again Newt Gingrich says he never lobbied. Bit by bit, more evidence surfaces that he did in fact lobby. Blog posts today by Ben Smith at Politico and Jen Rubin at the Washington Post help waterproof the case that Gingrich isn't speaking truthfully about his lobbying.

Here are some of the facts of the case:

I reported that Gingrich was paid by players in the drug industry to help pass the Medicare drug bill, and he visited Capitol Hill to convince lawmakers to vote for the bill.

The New York Times reports that Gingrich actively worked to pass bills promoting the use of electronic medical records and he was paid by the companies that would benefit from that sort of law.

Both of those seem to fit the legal definition of "lobbying contact."

Gingrich has a possible out on whether these were legally "lobbying contacts": He could plead here that he was moving votes not on behalf of his clients but on behalf of what he thought was best. Of course he and his clients agreed! Otherwise he wouldn't have taken them on.

The evidence we need to settle this is probably whether he reported back to clients on his advocacy.

But Politico's Smith shows, pretty convincingly, that Newt engaged in "lobbying activities," legally speaking, that didn't necessarily involve "lobbying contacts." Preparing reports for clients to help them with their lobbying -- that counts as lobbying.

So if Newt says he wasn't a lobbyist, legally that might be true (if less than 20 percent of his time was spent on lobbying activity), but it's splitting hairs. When Gingrich says he never lobbied, that's almost impossible to believe.

To borrow a phrase from Gingrich, he seems a bit factually challenged.

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