GILBERT, S.C. — Mitt Romney and a top surrogate called for Newt Gingrich, Romney's chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, to release the House Ethics Committee report that led to a reprimand of Gingrich and a $300,000 fine.
After Romney was pressed on his tax returns, Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) stepped in and interrupted Romney.
"In all honesty, I've heard more people wondering why you guys aren't asking about Ethics reports and ethics problems with the Gingrich campaign."
Romney then agreed with Haley that Gingrich should release the Ethics investigation immediately.
"Of course he should," Romney told reporters. "One of the issues that was raised last night by Rick Santorum was the fact that he was pushed out of the House by his fellow members. I think over 80 percent of Republican congressmen voted to reprimand the Speaker of the House, the first time in history. And Nancy Pelosi has the full record of that Ethics investigation. You know it's going to get out before the general election. Sure, he ought to get it out now."
A report from the Select Committee on Ethics has been online since 1997. Some aspects of the investigation, however, may not have been revealed, according to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who led the investigation.
“One of these days we’ll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich,” Pelosi said earlier this year. “When the time is right. … I know a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff."
Gingrich responded to Pelosi that releasing additional information from the investigation would be a violation of House rules and an abuse of the ethics process.
"Given Speaker Gingrich’s newfound interest in disclosure and transparency, and his concern about an ‘October surprise,’ he should authorize the release of the complete record of the ethics proceedings against him," said Romney Communications Director Gail Gitcho in a statement. "We know from Newt’s own statements that he turned over a million pages of documents. Nancy Pelosi, who sat on the ethics committee, said that this information contains damaging information. Nancy Pelosi is gleeful over the information she has on Speaker Gingrich, and Speaker Gingrich is concerned enough to threaten her with a rules violation. If Nancy Pelosi has this information, Barack Obama has this information.”
Romney has been dogged by questions about when he'll release his tax returns and repeated Friday that he would release them in April. Romney's comments Friday show he sees an opportunity to create headaches for the former Speaker with questions about the investigation. A super-PAC backing Romney has already been airing ads highlighting the issue.
Jonathan Easley contributed.
Updated at 1:45 p.m.