I’ve heard conservatives repeat, over and over, about how Gingrich resigned in disgrace because of ethics violations. I hope after reading this they will shut their ignorant flap holes.
At the center of the controversy was a course Gingrich taught from 1993 to 1995 at two small Georgia colleges. The wide-ranging class, called “Renewing American Civilization,” was conceived by Gingrich and financed by a tax-exempt organization called the Progress and Freedom Foundation. Gingrich maintained that the course was a legitimate educational enterprise; his critics contended that it had little to do with learning and was in fact a political exercise in which Gingrich abused a tax-exempt foundation to spread his own partisan message.
The Gingrich case was driven in significant part by a man named Ben Jones. An actor and recovered alcoholic who became famous for playing the dim-witted Cooter in the popular 1980s TV show The Dukes of Hazzard, Jones ran for Congress as a Democrat from Georgia in 1988. He won and served two terms. He lost his bid for re-election after re-districting in 1992, and tried again with a run against Gingrich in 1994. Jones lost decisively, and after that, it is fair to say he became obsessed with bringing Gingrich down.
Two days before Election Day 1994, with defeat in sight, Jones hand-delivered a complaint to the House ethics committee (the complaint was printed on “Ben Jones for Congress” stationery). Jones asked the committee to investigate the college course, alleging that Gingrich “fabricated a ‘college course’ intended, in fact, to meet certain political, not educational, objectives.” Three weeks later, Jones sent the committee 450 pages of supporting documents obtained through the Georgia Open Records Act.
That was the beginning of the investigation. Stunned by their loss of control of the House — a loss engineered by Gingrich — House Democrats began pushing a variety of ethics complaints against the new Speaker. Jones’ complaint was just what they were looking for.
Jones and his partner in the Gingrich crusade, Democratic Rep. David Bonior — they had been basketball buddies in the House gym — pushed the case ceaselessly. Under public pressure, the Ethics Committee — made up of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats — took up the case and hired an outside counsel, Washington lawyer James Cole, to conduct the investigation.
Cole developed a theory of the case in which Gingrich, looking for a way to spread his political views, came up with the idea of creating a college course and then devised a way to use a tax-exempt foundation to pay the bills. “The idea to develop the message and disseminate it for partisan political use came first,” Cole told the Ethics Committee. “The use of the [the Progress and Freedom Foundation] came second as a source of funding.” Thus, Cole concluded, the course was “motivated, at least in part, by political goals.” Cole argued that even a hint of a political motive, was enough to taint the tax-exempt project, “regardless of the number or importance of truly exempt purposes that are present.”
Cole did not argue that the case was not educational. It plainly was. But Cole suggested that the standard for determining wrongdoing was whether any unclean intent lurked in the heart of the creator of the course, even if it was unquestionably educational.
1999 CNN Report
Go ahead, conservatives, keep repeating the Democrat Ratf*cking Machine’s lies. They thank you for it, morons.