From CNN's "Inside Politics" February 3, 1999
NOTE: Of the 84 ethics charges filed (exclusively by Democrats) against Newt Gingrich, 83 were subsequently dropped due to a complete lack of merit or foundation in fact. The remaining charge is the subject of the below video. It too proved to be utterly baseless.
It's always good to keep the record straight.
TRANSCRIPT BELOW beginning with CNN's Brooks Jackson:
JACKSON (voice-over): It was legal after all. Newt Gingrich's oh-so-controversial college course that he started back in 1993, before he was speaker.
Remember how Democrats denounced it?
REP. DAVID BONIOR (D), MICHIGAN: Mr. Gingrich engaged in a pattern of tax fraud.
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: We now have a speaker under investigation for lying to the council, investigation his involvement in a massive tax-fraud scheme.
JACKSON: Tax fraud? Well, never mind. After a three-and-a-half year examination, the Internal Revenue Service -- Bill Clinton's IRS -- hasissued an official finding: no violation of tax laws. Critics said the course, which was videotaped and widely distributed, was too political; a scheme to use a tax-exempt educational foundation to promote a Republican agenda and elect Republican candidates.
But in a 74-page memorandum, the IRS said otherwise, quote: "The 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." It said: "The course was not biased toward particular politicians, or a particular party. The facts show the class was much more than a political platform."
There was no comment from Congressman Bonior, who had accused Gingrich of tax fraud, but there was comment from the president of the foundation that sponsored Gingrich's course.
JEFF EISENSACH, PROGRESS AND FREEDOM FOUNDATION: To be vindicated, as we have been by the ultimate authority, really, the InternalRevenue Service, is about as sweet as it gets.
JACKSON: Gingrich issued a statement: "I consider this a full and complete vindication. I urge my colleagues to go back and read their statements and them, with no fact, based on nothing more than a desire to politically destroy a colleague." But ruling comes too late to help much: Gingrich has resigned from Congress, and already paid a $300,000 fine to settle House Ethics Committee charges that he made misleading statements during an investigation of the college course.
(on camera): When he settled those charges, Gingrich also agreed he should have sought better legal advice about the course, but it turns out he was right, and those who accused him of tax fraud were wrong.
Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.