Former Oklahoma congressman J. C. Watts defended Newt Gingrich’s involvement with Freddie Mac in a conference call with reporters this afternoon.
Watts has served as chairman of FM Policy Focus, which describes itself as “a coalition of financial services and housing-related trade associations working with affordable housing and consumer advocates, taxpayer groups and financial institutions.” The group closely monitors the activities of housing giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Given his close observation of the lobbying efforts on Capital Hill, Watts said he was surprised to hear that Newt Gingrich had supposedly served as a lobbyist for Freddie. “In six years, I never heard Newt Gingrich’s name mentioned,” he said.
Watts later drew a connection between consulting and receiving donations. “If it’s influence peddling to be a consultant . . . why wouldn’t campaign contributions be influence peddling?” In other words, a candidate who had received donations from Freddie Mac could also come under fire.
But Watts seemed to defend Mitt Romney’s career at Bain Capital in his remarks. “Beating up Newt Gingrich for consulting or beating up Mitt Romney for consulting in the private sector, I think that’s like saying, ‘Let’s beat up Michael Jordan for being a great basketball player.’”
Finally, when asked why he thought the Romney campaign was attacking Gingrich so vigorously, Watts replied, “Dogs don’t bark at parked cars.”