Newt Gingrich’s political group quietly pulled in an impressive $8.1 million in the first half of the year, a cash haul that enabled the former speaker of the House to finance a robust political operation that includes at least 17 employees.[…..]
The operation, which includes a pollster and fundraisers, promotes Gingrich’s books, sends out direct mail, airs ads touting his causes and funds his travel across the country via charter and first-class airfare.
Last year, it spent $2.6 million on first-class or charter air travel for Gingrich and his staff, according to its 2008 tax returns. This year, it has spent about $670,000 on charter flights alone, according to Friday’s report.[…]
For instance, the group accepted $250,00 from Peabody Energy, which also gave that much last year, and $100,000 each from American Electric Power and Plains Exploration and Production Company.
I suspect this isn’t unusual. But sometimes I find myself surprised that intellectually honest policy wonks like Newt are bought and sold so openly.