WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s former consulting firm will release details of his work for troubled mortgage firm Freddie Mac on Monday, according to a company spokeswoman.
The disclosure could shed light on whether the housing-finance firm paid Gingrich $1.6 million in consulting fees for his historical acumen, as he has claimed, or his influence in Washington, as rivals for the Republican presidential nomination charge.
Depending on when it is released, the disclosure could factor into a televised debate between Gingrich and other Republican candidates scheduled for 9 p.m. EST.
Rival Mitt Romney, who was trounced by Gingrich in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, has hit the former speaker of the House of Representatives particularly hard because of his ties to Freddie Mac as part of an effort to paint him as a creature of Washington.
Romney on Monday challenged Gingrich to describe in detail the work he performed and return the money he made. His campaign released a television ad attacking Gingrich’s Freddie Mac ties and linking them to Florida, which has been particularly hard-hit by the housing market crash.
“While Florida families lost everything in the housing crisis, Newt Gingrich cashed in,” the ad says.
Republicans blame government-sponsored mortgage finance companies like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for the 2007 housing-market crash that plunged the country into the deepest recession since the 1930s. Outside economists say lax oversight of the financial industry is primarily to blame.
Gingrich has denied he worked as a lobbyist for Freddie Mac and said he would work to release details of his contract.
The Center for Health Transformation, a consulting firm founded by Gingrich in 2003 and sold to his partners in 2011, has previously said that it could not release the contract due to client confidentiality concerns. But spokeswoman Susan Meyers said the firm would make the material public on Monday.
The company says it does not perform lobbying services for clients, which come from the healthcare, education and technology industries.
Reporting by Andy Sullivan; additional reporting by Deborah Charles and Steve Holland; Editing by Marilyn W. Thompson and Bill Trott