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Newt Gingrich's Freddie Mac boondoggle: Big problem

WASHINGTON–GOP White House hopeful Newt Gingrich, experiencing a surge in the polls, is being pressed in Iowa Wednesday to explain what he did to earn millions as a consultant to Freddie Mac between 1999 and 2007. Gingrich, a former House Speaker and a one-time college history teacher said he was giving “strategic” advice.

Gigs for political figures have been sweet at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the now disgraced government sponsored enterprises supposed to stabilize the mortgage markets. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not do much as a board member for 14 months at Freddie in 2000 and 2001; Emanuel pocketed some $320,000 in that short time.

With the house meltdown impacting almost everybody, Gingrich’s Freddie Mac boondoggle may prove more troublesome to Gingrich with the GOP base than his multiple marriages.

Bloomberg News Clea Benson and John McCormick are digging into the story.

The Benson/McCormick lede from today: “Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac, according to two people familiar with the arrangement.”