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Gingrich Avoiding Divorce Queries

September 28, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and a congressional aide named in his divorce case are trying to keep lawyers for Gingrich’s wife from finding out details of their relationship.

In the latest twist in the Gingriches’ bitter divorce fight, lawyers for Marianne Gingrich charged in court papers Monday that Gingrich ``willfully failed and refused to answer virtually each and every interrogatory concerning his personal and professional relationships as well as the finances of his marriage.″

And in motions filed last week in Superior Court for the District of Columbia, Callista Bisek, a clerk for the House Agriculture Committee, asked a judge to overturn a Georgia court order requiring her to answer questions about her relationship with Gingrich.

No hearing has been set, but Ms. Bisek’s scheduled appearance Wednesday for questioning by Mrs. Gingrich’s lawyers likely will be postponed until her motions are resolved.

Court papers filed in Marietta, Ga., where the Gingriches lived, show that Mrs. Gingrich’s lawyers posed 32 sets of questions to Gingrich, including one about sexual relationships with other women. He answered parts of only two sets of the questions that dealt with sources of his income and retirement plans.

Mrs. Gingrich’s lawyers are trying to establish whether Gingrich gave Ms. Bisek money or spent the couple’s money on her.

Randy Evans, Gingrich’s lawyer, said Georgia divorce law limits each side to 50 questions, and with the 32 questions and their subparts Mrs. Gingrich’s lawyers posed more than 150.

``We answered 50 and told them if they want more than that, they need to follow the rules,″ said Evans. ``There has been no refusal to answer. It’s just that we’re going to go by the rules the best we can. Otherwise, this thing will spin out of control.″

But John Mayou, attorney for Mrs. Gingrich, said using the 50-question rule is simply ``a ploy not to answer legitimate questions.″ In his court filing, he described the position taken by Gingrich’s lawyers as ``preposterous and unsupported by any authority.″

Evans characterized the accusations as ``litigation saber rattling.″

The dispute will be decided by a Superior Court judge in Marietta, after a hearing that has yet to be scheduled.

In moving to block her testimony, Ms. Bisek argued that her constitutional right to privacy would be violated if Mrs. Gingrich’s attorneys were allowed ``to rummage through every aspect of her personal life without any meaningful restrictions or limitations of any nature.″

She also argued that she cannot be required to testify about her relationship with Gingrich under the constitutional prohibition against self-incrimination, because adultery is a crime in the District of Columbia.

The subpoena to Ms. Bisek requests documents and other items dating from January 1995, when Gingrich became speaker. They include cards, letters, e-mail and other correspondence between Ms. Bisek and Gingrich; gifts; Ms. Bisek’s home and cellular phone records; records of loans, payments or gifts from Gingrich; photographs showing the two together; and any audio or video recordings of the two.

The subpoena also requests any of Gingrich’s clothes or other personal items in Ms. Bisek’s possession.

Gingrich, 56, was separated from his wife of 18 years on May 10 and filed for divorce July 29. The Gingriches reached an agreement this month on how to temporarily split their assets until the divorce is final.

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