Newt Gingrich Takes Italian Vacation While His Campaign Remains in Mop Up Mode

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John W. Adkisson / Getty Images

Former Speaker of the House and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich smiles after touring the Billy Graham Library with his wife, Callista Gingrich, on April 24, 2012 in Charlotte, N.C.

Everyone deserves a holiday, and barking about politicians’ vacations is standard practice (See: President Obama going to Martha’s Vineyard during the recession). But it seems fair to suggest that politicians invite scrutiny of their leisure time when they tweet photos of the fabulous locales they visit–particularly when there’s $4.7 million of unpaid campaign debts back home. Callista Gingrich has been occasionally sharing pictures of their Italian excursion–of vineyards, of lunch overlooking St. Peter’s Basilica–since June 25. Meanwhile creditors have been waiting for payments and, in rare cases, for disputes over bills to be settled.

Conventional wisdom is that those providing services for presidential campaigns can often expect to wait longer that 30 days to get paid: Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential committee still has $245,000 in the red. Some of Gingrich’s creditors are giving him more lenient timetables up front and seem happy enough with the lapse. Roy Oakley, president of Moby Dick Airways, has worked with Gingrich for at least 10 years. According to the latest FEC filing, Gingrich owed the company more than $1 million, though Oakley says the current balance is smaller. “They’ve said that they would pay and that he would personally make sure that it was,” Oakley says. “So I’m comfortable with that.” (He was not aware of a timetable for when that would happen.)

(PHOTOS: On the Campaign Trail with Newt Gingrich)

Moshe Starkman, owner of a technology firm, is less comfortable. He has given the campaign a $95,000 bill that is in dispute. As Fox News reported in April, Starkman joined the Gingrich campaign as a field staffer in December; the campaign did not deny the field work but said that also paying to license the software used in that work would be double-billing. Starkman expects payment for the software and says he is still waiting for answers from the campaign. “This one is at the bottom of the list,” Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond says of this bill, “as we question whether or not these services were actually delivered.”

In wildland firefighting, there is a “mop up” stage–when the fire has been contained but the crew keeps at work to clear residual heat and smoke: So the campaign is over and Gingrich is taking a breather — and yet the mop up remains. In order to tackle the debt, Gingrich may have to use some of his own funds in addition to the money brought in by the campaign’s broader strategy of email appeals and fundraisers, which Hammond says will occur over the next sixth months. “These processes take years,” Hammond says. “That’s all the campaign is doing, is trying to figure out how it’s going to pay off debt. That’s why the committee is not suspending. That’s why it still exists.”

MORE: Newt Gingrich Probably Can’t Win, but That Doesn’t Mean He’s Going Anywhere

25 comments
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Paul
Paul

Oh ya, he would have been a great president. Romney in November! 

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

"But it seems fair to suggest that politicians invite scrutiny of their leisure time when they tweet photos of the fabulous locales they visit–particularly when there’s $4.7 million of unpaid campaign debts back home."

Where was Time when the Obama's were spending $2 million of OUR money on a luxurious Hawaiian vacation while adding yet another $1 trillion to the debt?

emmam34
emmam34

Oh goodness, when there's nothing to write about, just come up with something that the ignorant will eat up - I know the slow news day well.  Hillary Clinton? What about Bill Clinton's campaign from 96 still being in the red - although for legal reasons, not inability to raise money. Gingrich can't pay off his campaign's debt - so it really doesn't matter whether he vacations or not, whether he all of a sudden makes a billion dollars - it will make absolutely no difference, campaign laws do not allow people to just pay off from their own pocket. Congratulations on a no story. 

Maureen Owen
Maureen Owen

This was a story? Katy Steinmetz is a paid writer? Why?

onaturalia
onaturalia

I always get confused when a campaign spends more than what they took in contributions. I'm glad this guy isn't going to be running the country. At least Hilary's mistake made sense. She was leading the polls when she went into debt.

emmam34
emmam34

You will be hard pressed to find a candidate who didn't go into debt at some point in the campaign in order to stay afloat. McCain ended up with millions left over at the end of his campaign which he donated to charitable orgs, but at some point - believe it, the campaign was in debt.. Clinton is still in debt from 1996. They just need to change campaign financing laws, period. 

Expatmom
Expatmom

These asses made a gamble amp; THEY LOST!!!! Boohoo!! I guessing that much of this debt will be deducted from their taxes amp; the rest will be political contributions. Cry me a river!!!!

sacredh
sacredh

Callista: I feel like I'm living in a dream. Newt is my king and Camealot is his kingdom.

sacredh
sacredh

Does Tiffanys sell red, white and blue diamonds?

rokinsteve
rokinsteve

Thirty squirrels escaped from the zoo but the zookeepers recaptured thirty eight.  I hope you got away.

sacredh
sacredh

Another victim of public schooling.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

The budget deficit IS a huge problem.

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

 And, thanks to Obama the Incompetent, it is "huger" than it has ever been.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

$4.7 million in unpaid campaign debt?  I wonder how Newt feels about bringing back debtor's prison now.

Perhaps he and the Mrs. can get jobs as school janitors.  You know, to learn the value of a dollar.

groovecity
groovecity

So what exactly does this have to do with anything. Gingrich is a nobody nowadays. Is this all you can come up with Steinmetz, in the way way of shiny objects of diversion?

MomentoMori
MomentoMori

 The first rule of the GOP is never talk about the GOP.

cin
cin

I am so going to steal that line sometime in the future.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Also teh first rule of Fight Club.  Heh!

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

The more offensive one was the one so soon after he announced his campaign rather than this one.  I can understand the vacation, but it's never a smart idea to take a vacation less than a month into your new official job.