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Newt Gingrich Rents Out Donor List

Further cementing his reputation as a sleaze bag, Newt Gingrich is now renting out the private information of his donors.

Politico (“Newt Gingrich rents donor list to raise cash“):

Desperate times in the Newt Gingrich camp have called for desperate measures.

Scrambling to dig himself out of a $4.5 million hole, the former House speaker has resorted to renting his presidential campaign’s most valuable asset – its donor list – for as much as $26,000-a-pop.

It’s a risky move for an active presidential campaign to give outsiders access to his best supporters and possibly donors who could be easily turned off — just as he says he’s trying to mount a comeback. Diminishing his best asset looks more like a sign of surrender, rather than a genuine effort to challenge Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination.

Oh, please. Nobody thinks Newt is making a comeback. Everyone had, correctly, declared the race over even before Rick Santorum dropped out. Wisconsin ended any glimmer of hope of a brokered convention, much less another candidate winning outright.

Campaign insiders attribute the problems partly to Gingrich and his wife Callista’s, asserting that the couple was unwilling to downgrade from private jets and security details even as the campaign floundered. Insiders say Callista Gingrich required an entourage of at least two staffers – including one who dressed in an elephant costume to promote her children’s book – and a contracted security guard who followed her even on non-campaign trips.

The scramble to retire debt comes as Newt Gingrich is loaning his campaign thousands of dollars to keep him out on the trail, and he’s eying an uncertain political and financial future, since “Newt, Inc.” – the network of companies and non-profits that made his fortune – has crumbled.

“They overspent to keep up the appearances of being a top-tier candidate,” asserted Greg Fournier, a Central Florida consultant who chaired Gingrich’s effort in Daytona Beach’s Volusia County. “If you have a campaign bus and you’re flying in on a chartered jet, but you do not have the money for that, you end up sacrificing your ground game,” he said.

R.C. Hammond, a spokesman for the Gingrich campaign, rejected suggestions that the campaign had misspent on overhead, asserting “we’ve done more with less, if you look at total spending, compared to the other candidates.” And he brushed off a question about whether renting the list diluted its value or signaled an end to the campaign. ”No, it demonstrates the campaign is pursuing new sources of revenue,” he said. Gingrich has loaned the campaign “thousands, primarily toward travel and lodging expenses,” Hammond said, but he added “the campaign intends to reimburse” the loans.

My sense all along was that Gingrich was using the campaign as a platform to raise his profile as an author of schlock books and speech tour huckster. That he briefly became a plausible contender after South Carolina probably came as a bigger shock to him than to us.

“His ability to move forward after this, if he is not the nominee, is certainly enhanced, because right now he is even more of a national brand than he was before,” said campaign chairman Bob Walker, a former Pennsylvania congressman. “We’re doing what we can to pay off the debt and we feel confident that we will be able, in the course of the campaign, to get much of that debt paid off.”

Prior to this campaign, Gingrich’s brand was “big thinker with a side of sleaze.” Now, the first part of that is gone and the second is magnified. He’s become a national punch line and not in the endearing way that Rick Perry has. I can’t imagine that he’s got a political career left.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Further cementing his reputation as a sleaze bag, Newt Gingrich is now renting out the private information of his donors.

    All politicians do this. Singling out Gingrich as though this is some unheard of outrage is rather disingenuous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. Rick Almeida says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I was gonna say, in the interest group world, renting mailing lists is an important source of revenue for many groups.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I’m confused. I’m not used to political scandals where the word “rent” isn’t followed by the word “boy.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. grumpy realist says:

    Well, if I decide to donate some $ to a candidate, the last thing I want to see is that he’s turned around and sold my name across the web to the group of beggers called “non-profits.”

    Another reason why I don’t donate to groups that I would otherwise support. It’s bad enough when they continue begging on their own behalf. Planned Parenthood pissed me off big time after using the fact I had sent them $100 to continue begging for $ for years. And ACLU has done the same thing even though when I handed over the cheque I told them to keep me off any further mailing lists and that this was a one-shot transaction.

    Someone should inform these idiots they’d probably get a heck of lot more contributions if they didn’t take a donation as a reason to continually pester people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. @grumpy realist:

    Well, if I decide to donate some $ to a candidate, the last thing I want to see is that he’s turned around and sold my name across the web to the group of beggers called “non-profits.”

    You’ve obviously never have given to a candidate then. When you do, you basically start getting a flood of mail and e-mail from various political groups.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Pre-CISE-ly. And is why I don’t donate to politicians, period.

    Another reason I’m off all the lists is that I put down “libertarian” when first registering to vote–it was during the 5 minutes of my life that I thought the Libertarian party might actually have some useful ideas.. (Libertarians can claim that the reason they don’t send out begging letters to mailing lists because they’re too pure-hearted to do so and yadda yadda yadda, but the real fact is the Libertarian party couldn’t organize a piss-up in a beer factor, as the saying goes.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. al-Ameda says:

    I can’t believe that there are politicians who do NOT rent or sell their donor lists.

    That is the business model these days – there is perceived to be great value in subscription lists, donor lists, and all manner of customer lists.

    That said, Gingrich deserves to get nailed at every opportunity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Fiona says:

    The scramble to retire debt comes as Newt Gingrich is loaning his campaign thousands of dollars to keep him out on the trail, and he’s eying an uncertain political and financial future, since “Newt, Inc.” – the network of companies and non-profits that made his fortune – has crumbled.

    He’s also blown any further gigs he might have with Fox News by declaring that they’ve been in the bag for Romney and not treated him fairly (waaaah). Sounds like they’re going to have to start auctioning off Calista’s Tiffany jewelry to make ends meet. Couldn’t happen to two bigger, more sanctimonious douche bags.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. DRS says:

    Insiders say Callista Gingrich required an entourage of at least two staffers – including one who dressed in an elephant costume to promote her children’s book…

    Some images just cry out for Youtube immortality.

    ”No, it demonstrates the campaign is pursuing new sources of revenue,” [Hammond] said.

    Anyone checked to see if there’s an unexplained upsurge in gas station robberies along the route that Gingrich’s bus has been travelling? Further fundraising creativity?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. merl says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: Especially when a repub is involved.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. BTW, Callista might want to checkout who is in her husband’s entourage. If past history is a guide, right now is the sort of situation where his affairs usually start.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. Tsar Nicholas says:

    What I found surprising about this story is that Newt had a broad donor’s list. How naive and gullible can people be? Shit, they would have had a better chance betting on yellow at a roulette table than to have given money to Gingrich’s campaign.

    That all aside, Newt’s history dictates that just when you think he’s bottoming out he starts digging faster and reaching new lows. Ergo I suspect this train wreck of a disaster will over the next several weeks become a lot more toxic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Tillman says:

    I hope the donor list was at least called “The Civilizing Forces.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0