Newt Gingrich Charity Paid Cash To Gingrich For-Profit Business


Charity Watchdog: Business 'Must Be Disclosed'

His wide range of activities appears to have been effective in making Gingrich money and infusing his ideas into public discourse. Some of this activity is disclosed in publicly available documents -- money donated to and spent by the political organization American Solutions is all chronicled in public IRS filings. Borochoff said Gingrich was not legally required to disclose the payments from the charity to his consulting firm because, while his name and image were peppered throughout the charity's materials, and he was identified as its founder, he never took a formal seat on its board. Instead, the charity's board was led by Tyler, who was then serving as Gingrich's personal spokesman.

"If you're a director and you're doing business with the charity, it has to be disclosed, these are federal requirements," Borochoff said. "But the fact that [Gingrich] is not a director or an employee, he can skirt those disclosure rules. He doesn't have to disclose if he's selling things to the charity or receiving money from the charity."

Tyler said he never asked Gingrich to join the charity's board because he "did not want to use any more of Newt's time," not because he was attempting to avoid any disclosure requirements.

Gingrich declined repeated requests to be interviewed by ABC News. Tyler responded to questions sent by email but did not provide a formal statement, other than to write that he did not want to participate in this report because he believed the network was "pursuing a piece that intends to deliberately malign the Gingrich family of businesses and the people who work for them."

ABC News did, however, speak for more than an hour with Jim Garlow, the San Diego pastor who agreed to take over the reins of the charity in March, when Gingrich started taking formal steps to launch his bid for the White House. Garlow said Renew American Leadership, or ReAL, was founded three years ago to try to study and address the nation's troubles using Christian principles, and any ancillary benefits that came to Gingrich were inconsequential. Asked if the charity was intended in any way to serve as a stalking horse for Gingrich's future presidential campaign, Garlow said he doubted that.

"I don't think so," Garlow said. "I think he's very concerned about those issues. I heard him speak on numerous occasions, and I think he, like many Americans, including me, is very concerned with the direction of this nation. And Renewing American Leadership is one of many organizations out there attempting to address what we see as some significant drift in our nation that concerns us deeply."

Garlow said Gingrich's timing also indicated the charity was not set up to promote his presidential ambitions. "If he had announced for the presidency at that time [he had formed the charity], and been running at that time, then that would be a conflict of interest," Garlow said. "And that's why the organizations are absolutely separated right now."

The charity's tax forms indicate it has raised more than $2 million, mostly from small checks sent in response to mail solicitations. ABC News obtained samples of two different mass mailings -- requests for contributions written on Newt Gingrich letterhead and signed by the former speaker. Both letters quoted President Obama saying that America is "no longer a Christian nation" and called on donors to help Gingrich restore Christian principles in Washington. (The quote, from a 2006 Obama speech, is accurate, though the web site called it misleading for Obama's critics to use the partial quote. What Obama said was, "Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation -- at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.")

The fundraising mailers, along with the web site, represent the bulk of Renew American Leadership's efforts to fulfill its non-profit mission of educating the public about the need for more religious discussion in the public arena. Garlow told ABC News he is hoping to devote more of the charity's resources to pastor training and other outreach programs, though those efforts are still in their early stages.

The thousands of dollars spent by the charity developing a mailing list with the identities and contact information for people who respond favorably to Gingrich's appeal could have ultimately helped Gingrich the presidential candidate. The list of people who responded to Gingrich's appeals by sending checks to the charity was provided to Gingrich for his future use, Tyler confirmed. Any time Gingrich signs a fundraising appeal for someone, they "must share names of donors who respond," Tyler said.

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