Rep. Bill Alexander, D-Ark., charged Wednesday that House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich improperly used a book promotional fund to further his ambition for a House GOP leadership position.
Alexander, who filed a formal complaint against Gingrich with the House ethics committee Tuesday, made the accusation against the Georgia Republican during an appearance on "CBS This Morning.""Mr. Gingrich has cooked up a book scheme that has collected him $105,000 that he has used to travel around the country to campaign for Republican leader," Alexander said. "He has not reported it as either" a contribution or a gift.
Gingrich said his 1984 book, and the limited partnership set up to promote it, were legitimite enterprises, unlike House Speaker Jim Wright's book, "Reflections of a Public Man," which is the subject of an ethics committee investigation initiated by Gingrich.
"We had a real book with a real publisher bought by real people," Gingrich said. "He had a phony book with a phony publisher bought by lobbyists."
Alexander, in announcing the filing of his ethics complaint Tuesday, characterized Gingrich as "a congressional Jimmy Swaggart who condemns sin while committing hypocrisy."
The complaint, which lists 10 alleged violations of House rules, was filed as the ethics committee neared the conclusion of its deliberations on whether to bring charges against Wright, D-Texas.
"If you have a picnic, flies come to the watermelon," Gingrich said, when asked about the timing of Alexander's complaint. "We're in the middle of an exciting period, and Mr. Alexander decided this was the right moment for him to do something."
Under House rules, the filing of the complaint will force the ethics panel, known formally as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, to vote on whether to launch a preliminary investigation of Gingrich. The chairman and ranking Republican must place the complaint before the panel within 30 days or it comes up automatically at the next meeting.
The complaint centers on a limited partnership created to promote the book "Window of Opportunity," a conservative view of the future written by Gingrich, his wife, Marianne Gingrich, and David Drake.
The partnership had 21 investors who put up $5,000 each to promote the book, in exchange for a promise of half of the profits that normally would have gone to the publisher. The publisher, however, lost money on the book and the investors got a tax writeoff.
Gingrich, who has denied any wrongdoing with the book deal, said Tuesday the partnership was his wife's responsibility, and "I don't have any control over that."
But he said he is preparing detailed answers to 40 written questions about the book deal.