Nashua, N.H.: A Freddie Mac official says the corporation does not mind if Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich releases the broad details of his consulting contracts with the company, according to a report by Bloomberg today.
But Gingrich told the press today on a campaign stop in Newport, N.H., that even though Freddie Mac has given him permission, it isn't up to him to release the documents because he is no longer a part of Gingrich Group, described on its website as a strategic consulting company. Gingrich consolidated all of his businesses when he became a candidate, according to the campaign's spokesman, R.C. Hammond.
Gingrich told the press in November that he would be willing to release the Freddie Mac records but would be not be able to because of confidentiality agreements with Freddie Mac. Today Gingrich told ABC News that he would be "perfectly happy" with the Freddie Mac records to be released, but the Center for Health Transformation (CHT) had control over the documents because he sold his share of the CHT and Gingrich Group to the CHT on May 10, 2011. (CHT is described on the website as "a high-impact collaboration of private and public sector leaders committed to creating a 21st Century Intelligent Health System that saves lives and saves money for all Americans.")
Even if Gingrich wanted the documents released, it would be up to the CHT and the group's chairman of the board, Nancy Desmond. "I think our lawyers are talking with the Center for Health Transformation," Gingrich said today. "I don't have any control over that. But I think we're talking to Center for Health Transformation about that."
The CHT's media relations director, Susan Meyers, told ABC News that the board was reviewing the contract to see if the language at the time the document was signed even allows for it to ever be released. Meyers said the CHT was not releasing any documents at this time but that the board has yet to make any final decision based upon the advice of their lawyers.
Hammond told ABC News that the Gingrich campaign and the CHT share the same lawyer. A call to the campaign's lawyer was not returned. Hammond said Gingrich founded Gingrich Holdings with other partners, the umbrella under which CHT operated. Today Gingrich told the press that CHT and Gingrich Group are legally the same entity.
Once Gingrich sold his shares in May, he relinquished any legal connection with the CHT and Gingrich Group.
"I'm happy for [the contract to be released] but I think they've got to decide because they have confidentiality agreements with all their companies, they've got to think that through," Gingrich said. "It's up to Nancy Desmond and the Center for Health Transformation."
Gingrich Group is believed to have been paid between $1.6 and $1.8 million for consulting for Freddie Mac. Last month Gingrich claimed that his share was only $35,000 annually over eight years and that most of the money went to his staff and overhead.