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Catching Up With The GOP In Florida

By John M Disque and James Howell

Edited By James Howell



In the first GOP debate in Florida on Monday Night, Mitt Romney came out swinging at Newt Gingrich in an attempt to weaken the ever-growing Gingrich momentum.


Most of Florida was obviously paying strict attention to the South Carolina primary and the huge Gingrich win. Romney’s strategy was to go on the offense against Gingrich and get the spotlight back on him. Romney highlighted Gingrich’s record as speaker labeling it “a disgrace,” and saying Gingrich has been working as an “influence peddler” in Washington.


Gingrich responded by saying he wasn’t going to spend the entire evening chasing Romney’s misinformation. All in all, Gingrich handled himself pretty well and, while forced into the defensive position, did manage to turn the focus on Obama’s shortcomings.


The origins of the ethics charges in September 1994 were due to a complaint filed against Gingrich by then Representative Ben Jones (D-Ga), who was running against Gingrich for office. The complaint alleged then Speaker of the House Gingrich had received inappropriate gifts and improper contributions from a political action committee (GOPAC) he had been in charge of.


House Special Counsel James M. Cole had also alleged that a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization paid for two courses Gingrich taught at Georgia colleges. The courses, titled Renewing American Civilization, were “substantially motivated by partisan, political goals,” and therefore a violation of the organizations’ tax-exempt status, according to Cole.


The IRS dropped its investigation after a three-year probe and declared that Gingrich’s courses were “educational in content.”


Though much has been made in the media concerning fines supposedly levied against Gingrich after the probe, the $300,000 paid was not a fine, but reimbursement for House incurred legal costs due to delays caused by mistakes made by Gingrich's attorney.


The report of the Select Committee on Ethics, titled “In the Matter of Representative Newt Gingrich,” was released Jan. 17, 1997, and quoted Special Counsel Cole as stating that “the appropriate sanction for the conduct described in the original Statement of Alleged Violations is a reprimand and the payment of $300,000 toward the cost of the preliminary inquiry.”


The pollsters and the wannabe-pollsters all have Gingrich and Romney running close campaigns and showing equal support while Ron Paul is, again, busy picking up the independents and young voters and Santorum seems to be the odd man out.


Tonight (Thursday, January 26) the candidates will, again, have a chance to bang heads in the second and final Florida debate. East TN News will have live election results on Tuesday Night January 31.


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Published in East TN News January 26, 2012

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