Angry Gingrich Hits Abuse of Ethics Panel

By Archibald, George | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 28, 1996 | Go to article overview

Angry Gingrich Hits Abuse of Ethics Panel


Archibald, George, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


House Speaker Newt Gingrich, facing a drumbeat of Democratic attacks, says he sees misuse of the House ethics process as the price he has to pay to reform American government.

"I can spend all my life being defensive, or I can say, `Fine, why don't we go ahead and pass welfare reform?' " an angry Mr. Gingrich told editors and reporters of The Washington Times yesterday.

"They get to attack me, I get to repeal the entitlement of welfare. Which do you want? Why don't we pass illegal-immigration reform? They get to attack me. We get to change the game dramatically for illegal immigrants. Which do you want? Why don't we pass medical savings accounts? They get to attack me. We get to create for the first time ever the medical savings account experiment, which conservatives seem to think is a big deal."

Mr. Gingrich said it does no good to join the battle with Democratic attackers by publicly responding to their ethics charges because "they'll just make up new ones" and he still doesn't get a fair shake with "the elite media."

He said his spokesman, Tony Blankley, "can tell you the frequency with which we chat with reporters in this building and tell them everything they want to know and see about 3 percent of it get covered."

Mr. Gingrich dismisses his main accuser, House Minority Whip David E. Bonior, Michigan Democrat, as a man obsessed with dishing dirt against him.

"The essence of David Bonior's career is he hates Newt Gingrich. And if you think that's a legitimate framework for a national party, fine, enjoy the anti-Newt party," the speaker said.

"But by the way, we're the party of balancing the budget, cutting taxes, stopping drugs, reforming the government, distributing power back home, defending the nation, building national missile defense."

House Democratic leaders are so consumed with "mean-spirited" attacks that "they have no new ideas, they have no legislation, they have no concepts," Mr. Gingrich said. "We pass something, they smear. Someday somebody will write a column pointing out, isn't this bizarre?"

The Republican speaker said his game plan is to ignore the ethics process, unless he is asked for information, and keep pushing government reforms through the House - tax simplification, education overhaul, and litigation reform topping the list for the 105th Congress.

On Thursday, the ethics panel, formally known as the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, voted to expand a preliminary investigation of Mr. Gingrich's former college course "Renewing American Civilization" and his relationship with the tax-exempt Progress and Freedom Foundation, after reviewing a 100-page summary of issues outlined by outside special counsel James M. …

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