Kennesaw State Course, Ethics Investigation Resurface for Gingrich
Poll: Will Newt Gingrich's ethics past affect your vote?
A course Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich taught at Kennesaw State in 1993 and a related ethics investigation against him have resurfaced in recent days.
A day before Gingrich's win Saturday in the South Carolina primary, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney called for Gingrich to release additional documents relating to the 1997 ethics investigation against him that resulted in a reprimand from the House of Representatives and a $300,000 penalty.
Former Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi "has a full record of that ethics investigation. … It's going to get out," Romney said during a campaign stop Friday in Gilbert, SC, reported The Guardian.
Pelosi has said she knows "a lot" about the former speaker of the House from Georgia.
Will the 1997 ethics investigation against Gingrich affect your vote? Participate in our poll, and explain in our comments.
An ad from Restore Our Future, a super PAC that supports Romney, suggests Gingrich's ethics past could be fuel for the Democrats if Gingrich wins the Republican nomination.
"Barack Obama’s plan is working: Destroy Mitt Romney, run against Newt Gingrich," the ad states.
The House report addresses, among other things, a complaint filed against Gingrich in 1994 in regards to a course he taught at Kennesaw State College, now Kennesaw State University, titled "Renewing American Civilization."
Organizers of the course solicited financial support from individuals and organizations with an understanding that the project qualified for tax-exempt status. But the ethics committee concluded that the course did not qualify because it helped achieve a partisan, political goal.
According to the report, approximately $1.2 million was spent on the project over three years.
"The expense was primarily paid for by tax-deductible contributions made to the 501(c)(3) organizations that sponsored the course," the report states, also noting that the majority of the funds went toward dissemination of Gingrich's lectures, which were taped and distributed via satellite, videotape and cable television.
"While the course was educational, Mr. Gingrich intended that the workshops would be, among other things, a recruiting tool for GOPAC and the Republican Party," the report states.
Because of complaints from some Kennesaw State faculty members that the lectures had political purposes, the course was moved to private Reinhardt College in Waleska, now Reinhardt University, for the next two years.
The investigation also found that Gingrich "should have known" that information in letters written by his lawyers and signed by him "was inaccurate, incomplete, and unreliable."
"Either Mr. Gingrich's conduct in regard to the 501(c)(3) organizations and the letters he submitted to the Committee was intentional or it was reckless. Neither choice reflects creditably on the House," the report states.
"In addition, the violation does not represent only a single instance of reckless conduct. Rather, over a number of years and in a number of situations, Mr. Gingrich showed a disregard and lack of respect for the standard of conduct that applied to his activities," the report says.
Ultimately, Gingrich received a reprimand and had to pay $300,000 to reimburse the House for some of the costs of the investigation.
Gingrich has denied much wrongdoing in the matter, saying on Fox News that the investigation against him was conducted by "a very partisan political committee."
"The one mistake I made was signing a letter written by our lawyers, a firm which frankly did me a great disservice. And that's the only thing," Gingrich told CNN on Sunday.
Gingrich also said he was exonerated of the charges but persuaded fellow Republicans in the House to vote yes on the ethics charges so the House could move on to more important matters.