House Punishes Gingrich With Reprimand, Penalty -- Jan. 21, 1997
Gingrich Faces Reprimand, $300,000 Penalty -- Jan. 17, 1997
Final Report Due On Gingrich Case -- Jan. 16, 1997
House Ethics Committee Democrat To Step Aside -- Jan. 14, 1997
Partisan Wrangling Continues Over Gingrich Ethics Hearings -- Jan. 12, 1997
What Happens Next With Newt?
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 21) -- The House voted resoundingly this afternoon to punish House Speaker Newt Gingrich for ethics violations amid pleas to lay the matter to rest and "get back to the people's business," in President Bill Clinton's words.
But is it over? Some issues still remain that could bedevil the speaker as the 105th Congress gets rolling.
First is the question of how Gingrich will pay the $300,000 "cost assessment" the ethics panel levied on him to cover some of independent counsel James Cole's costs. It may be legal for Gingrich to pay with campaign funds, but leaders from both parties say Gingrich would be unwise to do so; such a move would likely ignite a firestorm of public opposition. Gingrich has asked for a week or two to decide how to pay.
Democrats have been eyeing the hundreds of thousands of dollars Gingrich received early in his speakership from a book deal, and say he can afford to pay the fine out of his own funds.
There's also evidence Democrats aren't going to let the matter go. During floor debate Tuesday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a member of the ethics investigating subcommittee, questioned whether the House GOP should keep Gingrich on as its leader. "Whether the speaker remains speaker is up to the Republicans; he is technically eligible. I hope you will make a judgment as to whether he is ethically fit," she said. Expect Democrats to beat that issue like a drum over the coming weeks.
And don't forget that the Internal Revenue Service has been poking into the matter for four months. The ethics committee decided that it was less concerned with tax laws than with House rules, and came to a conclusion only on House rules violations. The IRS, of course, is much more interested in tax laws and could make life difficult indeed for Gingrich if it finds he violated them.
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