Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission yesterday alleging that Newt Gingrich is personally profiting off of his presidential campaign, and the evidence is certainly supportive.
The complaint is based on a revelation by The Washington Post‘s Dan Eggen, who discovered that Gingrich had personally sold a mailing list to his campaign and profited to the tune of $47,005, then failed to report the transaction on a key FEC document. That’s count one, according to CREW.
That mailing list did not belong to Gingrich personally, CREW said. It instead belonged to Gingrich Productions, Inc., a private business that sells Gingrich’s books. Since he paid himself instead of Gingrich Productions, CREW alleged that a second count of using campaign money for personal expenses is called for as well. The treasurer who signed off on the deal is also accused of violating campaign finance laws.
CREW explained in their complaint (PDF) that Gingrich Productions often stages events at the same time as Newt 2012, Inc., his non-profit group and principal campaign committee, which could constitute improper corporate contributions to a political campaign in that the campaign directly benefits from Gingrich Productions’ events.
To be clear — Gingrich’s production company, which promotes his books, sold a mailing list to the Gingrich campaign and Gingrich personally pocketed that money, meaning his campaign paid him for his mailing list.
And those campaign funds could have come from anywhere. If you donated to the Gingrich campaign, it’s possible your dollars were passed directly to him during the sale of this mailing list.
Secondly, his production company is staging his book tour events simultaneously with his campaign events, which also funnels money to Mister Gingrich.
At least some of this is probably illegal, but all of it is highly unethical and a clear case of grifting. Sarah Palin would be proud. Or jealous.
As of today, Newt Gingrich is still the national frontrunner, leading Mitt Romney 35 percent to 22 percent.