Bloomberg News

Gingrich Campaign Fundraisers Quit Following Staff Defections

June 21, 2011

June 21 (Bloomberg) -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s two top fundraising aides resigned today, delivering the latest blow to the Republican’s struggling presidential campaign.

Fundraising director Jody Thomas and fundraising consultant Mary Heitman quit the campaign, said Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond.

More than a dozen of the candidate’s staff members resigned on June 9, including the national co-chairman, campaign manager, longtime spokesman and aides in Iowa, a state that votes early in the nomination race. Hammond said the campaign has more than a dozen aides remaining.

“We are raising the money for Newt to run the issues- oriented campaign he wants to run,” he said in an interview.

The June 9 resignations resulted from discord within the campaign over strategy, the role of the candidate’s wife Callista and money problems, aides and supporters said.

Gingrich, 68, of Georgia, officially declared his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on May 11. Days later, he was on the defensive within party circles after he referred to a proposal to privatize Medicare offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, as “radical change” and a form of “right-wing social engineering” in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The comments drew criticism from other Republicans, and Gingrich later called Ryan to apologize.

Campaign Debt

The NBC interview caused top fundraisers to begin defecting over concern about Gingrich’s ability to convey a disciplined campaign message, said a Republican strategist with knowledge of the campaign’s finances who requested anonymity in discussing the matter after the June 9 resignations. Gingrich had accumulated a seven-figure campaign debt, the strategist also said.

Separately, Gingrich has sought and received a 45-day extension from the Federal Election Commission allowing him to wait until July 25 to file his personal financial disclosure form.

The report is expected to disclose his personal income and the status of a line of credit of as much as $500,000 at Tiffany & Co., the New York-based jewelry store. It also may shed light on income Gingrich earns from the mix of private endeavors he established since leaving Congress in 1999.

--With assistance from John McCormick in Washington. Editors: Laurie Asseo, Jeanne Cummings.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Lerer in Washington at llerer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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