Borochoff, the charity watchdog, called the notion that the charity could have handed Gingrich any part of its fundraising list an abuse.
"If in fact Mr. Gingrich is receiving [Renewing American Leadership's] list for free then this is an abuse of the American charitable organization system," he said. "Charitable organizations are not allowed to intervene in political campaigns. Generating and then giving away a list of donors, who support and share the views of a particular political candidate is a misuse of tax-subsidized, charitable resources."
Garlow said the $220,000 in payments the charity made to Gingrich Communications went not to Gingrich but to Tyler for running the day-to-day operations of the organization -- "reimbursing what he was giving to ReAL during that time, which was a lot of hours. He worked hard on it." Renew American Leadership's tax forms report that Tyler worked 20 hours-a-week at the charity and had no reportable compensation. Tyler said the payments were channeled through Gingrich's consulting firm to insure Tyler was provided health insurance.
Garlow said he did, however, complain to Tyler about having to pay "full price" for Gingrich's books and DVDs, noting that he has always been able to negotiate a steep discount when his church buys copies of his own books. "My concern was, 'Is there any way we can get these a lot cheaper?'" Garlow said. "And we couldn't, and we didn't."
Joe DeSantis, communications director for the Gingrich campaign, said Tuesday, "The only books that were sold by Gingrich Communications to ReAL were sold 'at cost' at the same discounted publisher rate at which Gingrich Communications purchased them."
Since Gingrich first began running for president, the various organizations he launched have faced greater scrutiny. There have been published reports about his extensive use of charter jet service, paid for by donors to his political organization. And there has been discussion of the sizeable contributions -- several million dollars -- Gingrich's political organization received from Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. While gambling can be controversial within some circles of conservative religious voters, Adelson and Gingrich have long seen eye to eye about the country's Israel policy.
Ellen Miller, co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation, told ABC News she was surprised to discover that, in addition to all his other for-profit and political ventures, Gingrich was back in the charity business, given the ethics issues he had encountered with charity work more than a decade earlier.
"The fact that Newt Gingrich was censured for mixing political and public education type activities is what makes the founding of this organization particularly odd," Miller said. "You'd think he would learn from previous experience, which didn't turn out very well for him."
Garlow told ABC News he is a strong supporter of Gingrich and does not want to see this charity lead Gingrich back into that ethical thicket. He said he has taken pains to untangle Renewing American Leadership from Gingrich's involvement to avoid the appearance that it is endorsing his candidacy. When asked by ABC News last week why the charity continues to advertise Gingrich's books in banner ads on its website, Garlow said that was a mistake. The ads were removed the following day. Similarly, Gingrich's full-throated endorsement of Rep. Paul Ryan's economic plan, posted on the web site after Gingrich was criticized from the right for referring to the Ryan plan as "too big a jump" and "right-wing social engineering" was also pulled down after Garlow's ABC interview.
When Gingrich's staff left him in large numbers last week, one concern they raised was his lack of vigor on the campaign trail and his decision to cut away so soon after he launched his bid for a Greek cruise. But that vigor has not been lacking from his efforts to promote his books and movies. His first scheduled event back in public last week came in New Hampshire -- it was the screening of a movie produced by Gingrich Productions. Today, Gingrich's publisher is releasing his latest book.