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GOPAC Officials Had Problems With Gingrich and Gramm

December 5, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Leaders of the Republican political committee GOPAC in 1990 viewed Rep. Newt Gingrich and Sen. Phil Gramm as potential 1996 presidential candidates _ but described Gingrich as unwilling to take advice and Gramm as ``arrogant.″

``Newt only takes-accepts advice when he is in the market for it,″ said notes of a strategy meeting of the GOPAC political action committee.

Gramm was described in the meeting as ``very, very arrogant in his superior knowledge.″

The meeting notes were among GOPAC documents released by the Federal Election Commission in a civil lawsuit against the conservative PAC.

At an August 1990 strategy meeting of the group’s leaders, both Gingrich and Gramm were on a ``short list″ of potential candidates for the White House in 1996.

Gramm is running for president but Gingrich, after some reflection, decided against the race and chose to continue to influence Republican politics as House speaker.

The handwritten notes of the 1990 meeting said GOPAC ``should not be dependent″ upon Gingrich or ``it will cease to exist without him.″

The notes also said, ``Newt throw out to conference: Re-elect me or I’ll play in someone else’s sandbox.″

The documents show that GOPAC leaders expressed frustration in dealing with Gingrich in 1990, even though he was the organization’s general chairman and spiritual leader for its conservative agenda.

``How do we harness Newt within the confines of the frustrations in dealing with him?″ a note-taker asked in minutes of the 1990 meeting.

Although it was not clear whether Gingrich was in the room when such comments were made, he did attend the conference, along with other Republican leaders and contributors who made up GOPAC’s brain trust.

Gramm, who is seeking the GOP nomination, was described as ``one big enough to take Newt on in 1996 if he continues the growth. Gramm better economist; Newt better strategist,″ the meeting notes said.

Records released by the FEC indicate those attending the meeting included political consultants, GOPAC contributors, Gingrich staff members and Gingrich himself.

The FEC released the documents in asking a federal judge to rule that GOPAC violated federal election law. The agency says GOPAC tried to influence federal elections in 1989-90, which would have been illegal before its 1991 registration as a political action committee.

A federal committee has to abide by specific contribution limits and disclose its spending, donations received and major contributors.

One 1989-90 GOPAC strategy memo called for a two-day training program for new staffers to learn to work with Gingrich.

``Lessons include: What are the various entities in his life and how much time, on the average, does each require; what is the protocol for getting his time and-or scheduling him; what does he expect from his staff ... who are the most important people around Newt.″

The author added, ``Trust me, this is very important.″

Gingrich took care of GOPAC’s major contributors, sometimes intervening with federal officials on their behalf, other documents showed.

In a Jan. 3, 1990, letter to Jack Kemp _ then secretary of housing and urban development _ Gingrich wrote on behalf of Richard Pomboy, of Darien, Conn. Pomboy had asked for Gingrich’s help in setting up a meeting with Kemp to discuss his political views.

Describing Pomboy as the head of an investment management company, Gingrich wrote, ``He is also a GOPAC charter member and is becoming increasingly active with GOPAC.″

It was revealed last week in another FEC-released document that Gingrich wrote the Environmental Protection Agency administrator on behalf of a contributor who wanted relief from asbestos regulations.

Meanwhile, another GOPAC document showed that Gingrich wrote a contributor in 1990 that free cable TV time granted to GOPAC was ``a contribution of more than $30,000.″

House Democrats filed an ethics complaint against Gingrich this year, contending that he violated the chamber’s rules by accepting free television time from a cable television operator with business before Congress.

Gingrich countered that the free time was not a gift or a contribution, since it was no different from appearances by other lawmakers on interview shows or cable stations.

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