A House hearing called out witness Newt Gingrich for his shady financial dealings seeking to undermine the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Gingrich, who works as a Fox News contributor and Washington Times columnist, appeared as a witness before a December 16 House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing entitled, "Examining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Mass Data Collection Program." During the hearing, Gingrich attacked the pro-consumer bureau for purportedly being "dictatorial" in its collection of consumer data.
Gingrich has worked as a paid adviser for the U.S. Consumer Coalition, a secretive group that is attempting to dismantle the CFPB. Gingrich is also a paid adviser to Wise Public Affairs, whose clients include the U.S. Consumer Coalition. (Gingrich acknowledged his connections to both groups during the hearing.)
While Gingrich claimed during the hearing that he wasn't trying to be secretive about his anti-CFPB financial connections, that wasn't the case this summer. Gingrich wrote a July 1 Wall Street Journal op-ed attacking the CFPB and promoting the U.S. Consumer Coalition. The op-ed did not disclose any of his financial ties, simply identifying Gingrich as a former House speaker. Following criticism by Media Matters and The Washington Post's Erik Wemple, the Journal issued an "amplification" that he is "a paid adviser to Wise Public Affairs, whose clients include the U.S. Consumer Coalition, which opposes some policies of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."
Mother Jones had previously reported that the staffers at Wise "do double duty at the Consumer Coalition" and "Setting up groups like the Consumer Coalition seems to be a big part of what Wise Public Affairs offers its customers." However, it's difficult to decipher who is funding Gingrich and the campaign against consumer protections. Mother Jones noted that the "group's true funders may never be known. As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the Consumer Coalition is permanently exempt from revealing its donors."
That shady funding came into focus during the hearing, when Gingrich was asked by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) about who funds the U.S. Consumer Coalition. Gingrich -- a "US Consumer Coalition Senior Advisor" -- professed to not know anything about the group's funding.
During the hearing, Rep. Al Green (D-TX) cited Media Matters' research and criticized Gingrich for initially failing to disclose during the hearing that he was "a paid adviser to the Wise Public Affairs group."
He noted that it's "very interesting that there seems to be a sort of a stealth campaign that's taking place under the radar, entities that can't be properly identified" that want "to make sure that the CFPB is emasculated and eviscerated if possible. This is unbelievable."
Rep. Green added: "The people of this country are absolutely being fed bad information. Yes, they are intelligent. Yes, they're smart. Yes, they can sift through the sand and find pearls -- pearls of information -- but they can't do it if you're getting bad information. And that's what this is all about, which is why we have put so much emphasis on what has happened with reference to this stealth organization, this mystery organization."