Monday, January 23, 2012

Did Chris Christie Miss 1999?

UPDATE 2: Byron York, who covered the Gingrich ethics case as it was developing gives a full blown description here. His conclusion:
"The bottom line: Gingrich acted properly and violated no laws. There was no tax fraud scheme. Of course, by that time, Gingrich was out of office, widely presumed to be guilty of something, and his career in politics was (seemingly) over.

"Back in January 1997, the day after Cole presented his damning report to the Ethics Committee, the Washington Post's front-page banner headline was 'Gingrich Actions 'Intentional' or 'Reckless'; Counsel Concludes That Speaker's Course Funding Was 'Clear Violation' of Tax Laws.' That same day, the New York Times ran eleven stories on the Gingrich matter, four of them on the front page (one inside story was headlined, 'Report Describes How Gingrich Used Taxpayers' Money for Partisan Politics'). On television, Dan Rather began the CBS Evening News by telling viewers that 'only now is the evidence of Newt Gingrich's ethics violations and tax problems being disclosed in detail.'

"The story was much different when Gingrich was exonerated. The Washington Post ran a brief story on page five. The Times ran an equally brief story on page 23. And the evening newscasts of CBS, NBC, and ABC -- which together had devoted hours of coverage to the question of Gingrich's ethics -- did not report the story at all. Not a word.

"Gingrich himself, not wanting to dredge up the whole ugly tale, said little about his exoneration. 'I consider this a full and complete vindication,' he wrote in a brief statement. 'I urge my colleagues to go back and read their statements and watch how they said them, with no facts, based on nothing more than a desire to politically destroy a colleague.'"
UPDATE: Governor Palin is kinder to Governor Christie on this. Says "poor Chris" made a "rookie mistake" of "playing into the media's hands". He got his "panties in a wad" over Romney's South Carolina loss, and "[h]e just produced an ad for the Democrats." Read and enjoy:
"On New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie calling Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich an 'an embarrassment' to the Republican Party:

“'I do care to take him to task — poor Chris. This was a rookie mistake. He played right into the media’s hands. Here’s a host that asked Chris, ‘Does Newt embarrass the party.’ I think he asked him twice, and there Chris played right into it and spewed that about Newt embarrassing the party. Sometimes if your candidate loses in just one step along this path, as was the case when Romney lost to Newt the other night and of course, Romney is Chris Christie’s guy, you kind of get your panties in a wad and you may say things that you regret later. And I think that that’s what Chris Christie did. His response to what the media was asking him was reflective of a lack of self-discipline. I’ve learned my lessons all along the way, too, and not responding, not playing into the media’s hands when they’re trying to get you to say something like is this candidate an embarrassment to your party?'

"On if Christie was tricked into calling Gingrich an 'embarrassment':

“'I think if Chris were asked about some of his past actions, taking a state helicopter to his kid’s baseball game, some people may say, well, that sort of embarrassed your party, Chris. And he would then be on the receiving end of a comment that maybe he wished that somebody kept as an inside thought and not blasting that to the rest of the nation. He’s been in office a year or two is all, and he’ll learn that the media goad you. They want you to say things like that in order to boost ratings and make it more of a reality show-type scenario that we’re watching in the GOP primary. And a comment like that just kind of played right on into that narrative.'

"On how Democrats will use Christie’s comment against Gingrich:

“'He just produced an ad for the Democrats. If Newt is the nominee, he just handed them free this negative PR ad that they’re going to incorporate into their negative scenario against somebody who came out there against HillaryCare back in his day, who came out balancing budgets, working with a Democrat governor, who came out cutting taxes and trying to rein in government growth in order to put the country on the right track back then, and has intentions of doing that today.'”

This weekend Governor Chris Christie stated that Speaker Gingrich was an embarrassment to the Republican party because of being "fined $300,000 for ethics violations".

Did Governor Christie miss 1999 (not to mention not do his homework of verifying before asserting)? As CNN reported in February, 1999:
"The Internal Revenue Service Wednesday cleared former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of an alleged tax law violation in connection with a controversial college course he taught."
. . .
"Democrats said it was a campaign gimmick and filed ethics complaints accusing him of illegal use of tax-exempt funds for political purposes. A tax expert hired by the House Ethics Committee said the course violated tax laws, and in 1997 Gingrich agreed to pay a $300,000 fine for making misleading statements to the ethics panel and failing to seek better legal advice before using tax-exempt money for the course.

"As it turned out, the course was legal after all. The IRS found that the sponsoring organization, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, 'did not serve the private interests of Mr. Gingrich' or Republican organizations."
Assuming Governor Christie was not in a coma during 1999, one is left to infer that Christie is willing to spread half-truths (Gingrich did pay $300,000) which imply falsehoods (Gingrich was guilty of ethics violations) for political benefit. Appalling.

H/T William Jacobson and Carolyn Gargaro

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