A May 2011 audit commissioned by the West Virginia Secretary of State found that a tax-exempt charity founded by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) paid money to several of his for-profit businesses.
Experts told ABC News that Gingrich’s Renewing American Leadership charity may have crossed the line by participating in the political process and helping to funnel cash to his profit-making enterprises.
The charity is said to have purchased cases of books and DVDs from Gingrich Productions and paid an additional $220,000 to Gingrich Communications. Gingrich was featured in Renewing American Leadership fundraising letters and their website serves as a vehicle for his policy ideas.
According to Google, the website recently scrubbed pages that promoted Gingrich’s appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and his support for the Republican budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
“The spirit of operating a non-profit organization is to work for the public good regardless of the politics that are involved,” American Institute of Philanthropy President Daniel Borochoff explained. “I believe it violates that spirit.”
Prior to a speech in New Hampshire Tuesday, Gingrich deflected questions from ABC News reporters.
“I’m not concerned about that,” he said. “The American people aren’t concerned about that. Try covering the speech.”
The candidate quickly made his way to a waiting car and slammed the door as the reporter was trying to ask follow-up questions.
In 1997, the House Ethics Committee voted to reprimand and fine Gingrich $300,000 after he was accused of using a tax-exempt organization to finance political activities.