The 1997 House ethics investigation into then-Speaker Newt Gingrich has resurfaced on the campaign trail, but Gingrich told CNN’s Candy Crowley that all information relevant to the scandal was already public. Gingrich said the $300,000 penalty he was ordered to pay by the House Ethics Committee was a reimbursement for the cost of the investigation, and that “on every single count, I was exonerated.” He added that many House Republicans to vote “yes” on the ethics charges against Gingrich in order to put it behind them more quickly, rather than because they believed he had done anything wrong. Watch Gingrich’s explanation here:
As Gingrich himself admitted later in the interview, he was not exonerated on every count. While most of the initial charges against him were dropped, he was sanctioned on one count of flouting tax laws relating to a college course he taught that received non-profit status even though it was political in nature.
And contrary to Gingrich’s claim that House Republicans voted to reprimand him simply to move on, many said at the time that they were very disturbed by Gingrich’s actions. “Newt has done some things that have embarrassed House Republicans and embarrassed the House,” said Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) at the time. “If [the voters] see more of that, they will question our judgment.” Even Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), who cast the lone dissenting vote on the ethics committee against charging Gingrich, said the Speaker made “real mistakes but they shouldn’t be hanging offenses.”