Yes, of course Newt Gingrich was a lobbyist, because that’s the only reason political figures get paid millions of dollars by corporations. It’s not to give advice. They have large payrolls with all the strategists they’ll ever need. The only thing they don’t have are front men to make sure their strategies get put into action on Capitol Hill.
Newt Gingrich personally urged members of Congress to vote for a controversial Medicare expansion bill in 2003, two Republicans who were in the room said this week.
Gingrich, who is running for president, has said he never lobbied members of Congress after he resigned as House speaker in 1998. But U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake and former congressman Butch Otter told The Des Moines Register this week that Gingrich helped persuade reluctant Republicans to vote for the Medicare prescription-drug program, which barely passed.
Flake and Otter, who have endorsed Mitt Romney for president, said about 30 Republican House members were holding out against the bill in the fall of 2003 because they feared the proposal would expand the federal deficit. Proponents brought in Gingrich, who addressed a private meeting of Republican House members, they recalled. “He told us, ‘If you can’t pass this bill, you don’t deserve to govern as Republicans,’ ” said Flake, who represents an Arizona district. “…If that’s not lobbying, I don’t know what is.”
Otter, who is now governor of Idaho, agreed. “I can’t define lobbying, but as a Supreme Court justice once said about pornography, I know it when I see it,” he said. “I felt we were being lobbied.”
Forget the technical term of “lobbyist,” which the Center for Responsive Politics tries to employ to very gently argue against Gingrich being called one. For all practical purposes, a lobbyist uses his connections to persuade lawmakers to support the initiatives of the companies which pay his freight. I don’t think there’s any doubt Gingrich did just that.
With both Flake and Otter supporting Romney, Gingrich predictably accused the Romney campaign of coordination on the charge. But that’s not really important to me right now. Gingrich is a goner anyway. This episode is an example of the revolving door at the heart of our politics. It may not be broadcast this obviously most of the time, but people sense that it exists. Politicians float from the Capitol to K Street, talking up their buddies in support of the interests of their corporate paymasters, and alternately receiving donations from said paymasters in exchange for those votes. The scheme really isn’t that opaque.