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Paying The Price Talk about ethics charges! Breaking the rules will cost Newt Gingrich $300,000. By Richard Lacayo/TIME

Newt's Day Of Deliverance But an intercepted cellular call gives him and the Democrats more ethical problems. By George J. Church/TIME

Newt's Influence Slips Away Gingrich worked the phone hard to save his job, but no matter what the outcome of the vote for Speaker, his influence is already greatly diminished. By Richard Lacayo/TIME

Related Sites

Ethics Committee Hearing Transcript, Jan. 17, 1997

Download or read special counsel James Cole's full report.

The House Ethics Committee Report

House Ethics Manual

Newt Gingrich's Dec. 21, 1996 Statement


Newt Gingrich's Sixth District Home Page

U.S. House of Representatives

The Official Friends of Newt Gingrich

CQ: David Bonior Biography

CQ: Newt Gingrich Biography

CQ: Nancy Johnson Biography


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Gingrich's Ethics


Sept. 7, 1994 -- Former Rep. Ben Jones files complaint against Gingrich. Jones alleged Gingrich's college course, financed with tax-deductible donations, was a violation of federal tax law.

Dec. 6, 1995 -- The House ethics committee clears Gingrich of three charges and reprimands him for three others. The committee hires James Cole as an independent counsel to investigate whether the speaker violated tax laws in the financing of his college course.

Jan. 31, 1996 -- Reps. David Bonior (D-Mich.), Pat Schroeder (D-Colo.), George Miller (D-Calif.), Rosa De Lauro (D-Conn.), and John Lewis (D-Ga.) file complaint against Gingrich, alleging he took improper gifts and contributions from GOPAC.

Feb. 29, 1996 -- Judge dismisses lawsuit brought by the Federal Election Commission alleging GOPAC illegally aided candidates for federal office.

June 28, 1996 -- House votes along partisan lines not to widen independent counsel James Cole's investigation.

Sept. 20, 1996 -- Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), the ethics committee's ranking Democrat, calls news conference to complain the GOP is stonewalling on the Gingrich probe.

Sept. 19, 1996 -- Ethics panel dismisses complaint concerning Gingrich's use of computer entrepreneur Donald Jones to update a computer system.

Sept. 26, 1996 -- The ethics committee votes to expand investigation into whether Gingrich provided false information to the committee about GOPAC's relationship with his college course.

Sept. 28, 1996 -- Ethics committee votes to dismiss two charges against speaker, but refuses to sideline four charges dealing with alleged illegal campaign contributions and gifts


Nov. 10, 1996 -- GOP Rep. Steve Largent of Oklahoma says it would be a good idea for Gingrich to step aside until the ethics issues are resolved. Separately, Reps. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) and Peter King (R-N.Y.) echo that sentiment.

Dec. 18, 1996 -- Gingrich lawyer Jan Baran drops the speaker as a client. Gingrich later blames his false statements made to the ethics committee on Baran. Baran issues statement saying his firm "did not submit any material information to the ethics committee without Mr. Gingrich's prior review and approval."

Dec. 21, 1996 -- Gingrich releases statement acknowledging finding of ethics subcommittee. "With great sadness, I have filed an answer which admits to that violation," Gingrich's statement reads.

Dec. 27, 1996 -- The Atlanta Constitution reports that Gingrich had been advised by attorneys in 1990 not to use tax exempt funds to finance his college course.

Dec. 30, 1996 -- New York GOP Rep. Michael Forbes tells The New York Times he won't vote to re-elect Gingrich as House speaker.

Dec. 31, 1996 -- The two Republicans on the ethics investigative subcommittee, Porter Goss (Fla.) and Steve Schiff (N.M.), send letter to House GOP members stating that "we know of no reason now, nor do we foresee any in the normal course of events in the future, why Newt Gingrich would be ineligible to serve as speaker."

Jan. 6, 1997 -- House Banking Committee chairman Jim Leach (R-Ohio) becomes the second Republican to break ranks and oppose Gingrich's re-election. Later, Reps. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.), Mark Neumann (R-Wis.) and Linda Smith (R-Wash.) also say they won't support the speaker. Gingrich returns from Marietta, Ga., and argues his case during a three-hour, closed-door address to the House GOP caucus. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll indicates two-thirds of Americans believe Gingrich is unfit to remain speaker, while by 48-41 percent they believe he should stay in Congress.

Jan. 7, 1997 -- Gingrich re-elected for a second term as House speaker. He receives 216 votes to House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt's 205, with four votes going to other people. Six members vote "present" and four members, including Gingrich, do not vote.

Jan. 8, 1997 -- The House ethics committee begins formal deliberations into what Gingrich's punishment should be.

Jan. 9, 1997 -- House ethics committee Democrats hold a news conference demanding that the scheduled panel vote on Gingrich's punishment be delayed two weeks to give special counsel Jim Cole more time to work on his report. Joined by her GOP colleagues, committee chairwoman Nancy Johnson calls her own press conference to change the schedule, calling off five days of scheduled public hearings that were to begin Jan. 13. Johnson instructs the special counsel to complete his report by Jan. 16, leaving the schedule for hearings in doubt.

Jan. 10, 1997 -- The New York Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution report on an intercepted cell phone conversation indicating Gingrich may have violated his Dec. 21 agreement with the panel not to orchestrate a GOP counterattack against the charges. In a telephone conversation taped that day, and subsequently obtained by the two papers, the speaker is heard reacting favorably to strategy concocted by GOP operative Ed Gillespie.

Jan. 14, 1997 -- Under fire for accepting the tape of Gingrich's phone call, the ethics committee's ranking Democrat, Jim McDermott (Wash.) recuses himself from further consideration of the Gingrich matter, on condition that one Republican also step aside from the ethics committee to maintain the panel's partisan balance. Unrepentant, McDermott blasts ethics chair Nancy Johnson (R-Conn) and committee Republicans, who he says "stonewalled or otherwise "obstructed sensible efforts to get at the whole truth."

Jan. 15, 1997 -- Republican ethics committee member David Hobson (Ohio) agrees to step aside from the Gingrich case. As partisan sniping escalates, Rep. Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.) demands that Democrats "ferret out" whether McDermott was responsible for leaking the contents of the tape to news sources, and suggests the episode could justify Republicans voting for a lighter punishment for Gingrich.

The House Ethics Committee Report

  • Hearing Transcript
  • Download or read the special counsel's report.

  • Jan. 17, 1997 -- Cole and lawyers for Gingrich agree that the speaker's punishment should be a reprimand plus a $300,000 penalty to reimburse the ethics committee for time wasted due to his inconsistent statements. The panel holds a public hearing into Gingrich's violations, then votes 7-1 in favor of the judgment.

    Jan. 21, 1997 -- The House votes 395-28 in favor of ethics committee's recommended punishment for Gingrich -- a reprimand plus a $300,000 penalty, which allows him to remain as House speaker.

    Jan. 22, 1997 -- The Los Angeles Times, citing House ethics committee documents, reports that GOPAC urged donors to contribute "dues" to the Abraham Lincoln Opportunity Foundation, which were forwarded to GOPAC, which in turn contributed them to Republican political candidates. Gingrich has not responded to the allegation.

    Jan. 25, 1997 -- Gingrich returns to Marietta, Ga., and tells a mostly supportive crowd that his misstatements to the ethics committee were his lawyer's fault. He asserts that "You can on the left do anything you want and nobody seems to notice," but as a conservative, he was "politically incorrect."

    April 22, 1997 -- Ending months of speculation, Gingrich announces he will pay the $300,000 penalty using a loan from former GOP presidential candidate and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole.

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