Political Notebook

Gingrich funneled $150k to conservatives in Iowa

March 16, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Potential presidential candidate Newt Gingrich quietly lined up $150,000 to help defeat Iowa justices who threw out a ban on same-sex marriage, routing the money to conservative groups through an aide’s political committee.

Gingrich, the former US House speaker who has aggressively courted the conservatives dominating Iowa’s lead-off presidential caucuses, raised the money for the political arm of Restoring American Leadership, also known as ReAL.

That group then passed $125,000 to American Family Association Action and an additional $25,000 to the Iowa Christian Alliance — two of the groups that spent millions before November’s elections that removed three of the state’s seven state Supreme Court justices. The court had unanimously decided a state law restricting marriage to a man and a woman violated Iowa’s constitution.

The financial transfers appear to comply with campaign finance laws. The spending comes as Gingrich is seeking to make allies among social conservatives who drive the caucuses.

Presidential candidates regularly raise money for state legislators to ingratiate themselves. But Gingrich’s behind-the-scenes role in one of the nation’s most contentious ballot measures last year was unusual. There are a number of companies and nonprofits that Gingrich founded or lent his credibility to after his resignation from Congress.

Gingrich’s longtime spokesman Rick Tyler serves as chairman of ReAL, which operates with the goal of preserving “America’s Judeo-Christian heritage by defending and promoting the three pillars of American civilization: freedom, faith, and free markets.’’ Gingrich lends his name to fund-raising. The group’s website, in turn, promotes Gingrich’s books, television appearances, and films.

Gingrich has moved toward a White House run but has made missteps in his opening days. An appearance some thought would be a campaign kick-off turned into a quick statement because advisers worried the private plane that ferried Gingrich to Atlanta could get him in trouble with campaign spending laws.

— Associated Press

Obama will speak to grads at Miami Dade College WASHINGTON — The White House said President Obama will deliver a commencement address April 29 at Miami Dade College. The appearance in politically important Florida will showcase a school that emphasizes continuing education and career training, areas he has highlighted as part of his education agenda.

Obama typically delivers several college commencement speeches each year.

— Associated Press

House panel wants to stop EPA greenhouse-gas rules WASHINGTON — A House committee approved legislation yesterday to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse-gas rules.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved, 34 to 19, the measure that would prohibit the EPA from regulating the gases and would reject the agency’s finding that carbon-dioxide emissions endanger public health. The measure would need approval by the full House and Senate and President Obama’s OK to become law.

Obama’s EPA is under fire from Republicans and some Democrats who say the greenhouse-gas rules are unnecessary and will hurt the economy.

The EPA began regulating emissions blamed for climate change in January after Congress failed last year to pass legislation Obama backed to set up a cap-and-trade system, which would let companies buy and sell a shrinking supply of pollution rights.

— Bloomberg News