Seeking to turn the tables on an opponent who has demanded to see his tax returns, Mitt Romney called on Newt Gingrich to release of the congressional ethics report that helped force the former speaker out of office in the 1990s.
Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, who has endorsed Romney and often speaks for him as campaign surrogate, made a similar statement on a conference call with reporters yesterday, saying the ethics records were a “very important piece of opaque material” that could hurt Gingrich in November if he won the nomination.
But Romney escalated the issue today when asked about it in South Carolina:
REPORTER: Others have mentioned that Newt Gingrich should release his congressional ethics report. Do you think he would release those?
ROMNEY: Of course he should, of course he should. One of the issues in this race raised last night by Rick Santorum was the fact that he was pushed out of the House by his fellow members. I think over 80 percent of Republican Congressman voted to reprimand the Speaker of the House. The first time in history.
“That must be so damning that that’s the kind of thing that would be an October surprise,” Sununu said yesterday.
Gingrich was the first House speaker in American history to be disciplined for ethical wrongdoing. A total of 84 ethics charges were filed against him on a host of issues, including violating federal tax law and House ethics rules. Most of the charges were dropped, but he was eventually sanctioned $300,000 by a overwhelming 395–28 House vote, with included many of Gingrich’s allies voting against him.