On July 1, Newt Gingrich wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he criticized the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and praised the U.S. Consumer Coalition, without any mention of the face that he is a paid adviser to the latter group. And now Gingrich and the firm he works for are lying about it to pretend it isn’t unethical.
Washington Post writer Erik Wemple reported that Brian Wise, head of Wise Public Affairs, claimed that Gingrich has a relationship with his firm, but “‘not necessarily a direct relationship with the USCC,’ which is a client of Wise Public Affairs. ‘The USCC wasn’t involved at all in the creation of that article,’ says Wise.” Wise also reportedly said that Gingrich “has not advised USCC on the CFPB data-mining issue” and didn’t see a problem with the WSJ piece.
Wise’s response is puzzling, since the USCC states on its website and Facebook page (see here, here, here) that Gingrich is an advisor to the group. Indeed, the group’s press release promoting Gingrich’s WSJ op-ed identified him as “US Consumer Coalition Senior Advisor and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.”Additionally, Gingrich’s op-ed contains similar rhetoric as USCC’s anti-CFPB talking points.
The remarks are also disingenuous since USCC and Wise Public Affairs “are basically one and the same.” As Mother Jones‘ Patrick Caldwell reported in February, Wise and his “colleagues at his PR firm now do double duty at the Consumer Coalition.” He added, “Setting up groups like the Consumer Coalition seems to be a big part of what Wise Public Affairs offers its customers.”
So the USCC says he’s an advisor to them. They sent out a press release promoting the op-ed in which they again called him an advisor to the group. The Wall Street Journal didn’t reveal the obvious conflict of interest even though they were the ones who reported his hiring as an advisor to the group a year ago. But when the ethical problem is made public, suddenly he has almost nothing to do with USCC! What a remarkable coincidence that is.