Lawmakers claim Gingrich lobbied them

A current and a former member of the House said this week that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich lobbied them to pass legislation in 2003 that provided a subsidy for prescription drugs under Medicare.

The comments go against previous claims by Gingrich that he never lobbied members of Congress after leaving the House in 1999, because he made plenty of money as a speechmaker.

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Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and former Rep. Butch Otter (R-Idaho), now his states governor, said Gingrich met with on-the-fence Republicans to persuade them to vote for the prescription drug bill.

He told us, If you cant pass this bill, you dont deserve to govern as Republicans,’” Flake told The Des Moines RegisterIf thats not lobbying, I dont know what is.

Otter said: I cant define lobbying, but as a Supreme Court justice once said about pornography, I know it when I see it. I felt we were being lobbied.

A Gingrich spokesman told the Register that Gingrich was never paid to meet with House members, and thus was never a lobbyist. The spokesman said Gingrich did often promote good ideas, and indicated that arguing in favor of those ideas should not be seen as lobbying.

The Medicare prescription drug bill barely passed the House in a 216-215 vote, and a House-Senate conference bill was approved 220-125.