Nice ‘historian’ work if you can get it

In retrospect, maybe Newt Gingrich shouldn’t have based so much of his campaign on attacking Freddie Mac.

During a debate last week, after Gingrich spent some time railing against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, John Harwood reminded the Republican candidate that he was paid $300,000 by Freddie Mac five years ago. Gingrich insisted that he’s “never done any lobbying,” but was paid for his advice “as a historian.” He was paid, the candidate said, to tell Freddie Mac officials that their business model was “insane.”

Gingrich’s story has unraveled ever since. For one thing, he never complained to Freddie Mac officials about their business model. For another, Gingrich’s work appeared to be consulting on the housing giant’s lobbying strategy.

And today we learn that Gingrich was actually paid far more than previously reported.

Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac, according to two people familiar with the arrangement. […]

Gingrich’s first contract with the mortgage lender was in 1999, five months after he resigned from Congress and as House speaker, according to a Freddie Mac press release.

His primary contact inside the organization was Mitchell Delk, Freddie Mac’s chief lobbyist, and he was paid a self- renewing, monthly retainer of $25,000 to $30,000 between May 1999 until 2002, according to three people familiar with aspects of the business agreement.

If Freddie Mac paid Newt Gingrich between $1.6 million and $1.8 million to consult on its lobbying strategy, then, yes, maybe its business model really was “insane.”

At this point, is there any doubt that Gingrich’s explanation last week was plainly untrue, or are we sill supposed to believe that he was paid at least $1.6 million to put on his “historian” hat and assess Freddie Mac’s operation?