Donald Lambro

When it was first revealed that Gingrich was paid huge sums by Freddie Mac which was at the center of the sub-prime mortgage collapse, he falsely maintained his work there was as a historian.

"That would make him the highest-paid historian in history," Romney replied.

In fact, his work was much more than that, including strategic advice and counsel, bringing influential people together from the housing housing industry and at some point connecting Freddie Mac with conservative leaders in Congress. Which sounds a lot like lobbying.

In a statement his campaign issued when the Freddie Mac story surfaced last month, it said, "In addition, Freddie Mac was interested in advice on how to reach out to more conservatives."

The Washington Post's Fact Checker Glenn Kessler observed, "While Gingrich takes great pains to stress he was never registered as a lobbyist, he clearly appears to have provided advice on how to influence the thinking of conservative members of Congress."

It is worth pointing out, as Bloomberg News has done, that Gingrich's "primary contact inside the organization was Mitchell Delk, Freddie Mac's chief lobbyist..."

Gingrich, as an influential leader in Congress and now a private citizen, had become well known as a skilled idea man who offered a wide range of "solutions" to the nation's problems, and people were willing to pay him big money to give them his best advice. Nothing wrong with that.

At the same time, he was handsomely profiting from Freddie Mac, a multi-billion dollar "government assisted enterprise" or GSE, that played a pivotal role in the costly subprime mortgage debacle which sowed the seeds of the housing industry's collapse and the Great Recession.

Freddie Mac, Gingrich's employer, was taken over by the government in 2008 and has received more than $151 billion in government bail-out funds.It still retains an infinite line of credit from the taxpayers. Gringrich was on their payroll between 1999 and 2008.

Fellow Republican Ron Paul, who has a blistering new attack video on the web that is titled "Selling Access," charges that Gingrich was effectively being paid with taxpayer bailout money.

Most conservatives have long believed that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae should be privatized and that the federal government shouldn't be in the home mortgage business.

But in an interview on April 24, 2007 for Freddie Mac's web site, Gingrich stoutly defended the GSEs and their work -- just months before they declared bankruptcy.

"We have a much more liquid and stable housing finance system than we would have without the GSEs... These are the results I think conservatives should embrace and want to extend as widely as possible," he said.

Thus you have the ultimate irony of Gingrich attacking Romney, a businessman who was channeling investment capital into the private economy and creating jobs, while the former House speaker was advising and cheering a government-run enterprise that went bankrupt. And the taxpayers are footing the bill.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.