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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

IRS clears Newt Gingrich's college course

By Brooks Jackson/CNN

February 3, 1999
Web posted at: 11:43 a.m. EST (1643 GMT)

Newt Gingrich  

WASHINGTON (February 3) -- The Internal Revenue Service Wednesday cleared former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of an alleged tax law violation in connection with a controversial college course he taught.

After considering the matter for three and a half years, the IRS issued a "technical advice memorandum" finding no violation of tax laws in the use of a tax-exempt entity to sponsor Gingrich's course, "Renewing American Civilization."

Gingrich began the course in 1993, before Republicans won control of the House and made him speaker. Gingrich's lectures were videotaped and widely distributed.

Democrats said it was a campaign gimmick and filed ethics complaints accusing him of illegal use of tax-exempt funds for political purposes. A tax expert hired by the House Ethics Committee said the course violated tax laws, and in 1997 Gingrich agreed to pay a $300,000 fine for making misleading statements to the ethics panel and failing to seek better legal advice before using tax-exempt money for the course.

As it turned out, the course was legal after all. The IRS found that the sponsoring organization, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, "did not serve the private interests of Mr. Gingrich" or Republican organizations.

The IRS said the principles taught in the course were not of use only in political campaigns. "The ... course taught principles from American civilization that could be used by each American in everyday life whether the person is a welfare recipient, the head of a large corporation, or a politician."

The IRS memorandum was released by the Progress and Freedom Foundation along with a statement by its president, Jeff Eisenach. "This audit took too long and cost too much," he said.


Fall of the house of Newt (11-09-98)

Gingrich says he didn't want to be 'a distraction' (11-07-98)

Gingrich's career: Highs, lows and a knack for survival (11-06-98)

Gingrich ethics case dropped (10-20-98)


Wednesday, February 3, 1999

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