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Gingrich Borrows to Pay Fine

April 22, 1997

* Re "Gingrich to Borrow $300,000 From Dole to Pay Fine," April 18:

I couldn't have been more pleased when I head the criticism from House Democrats David Bonior of Michigan and John Lewis of Georgia regarding the Dole/Ging- rich ethics payment plan. Their comments showed true vindictive partisan color in a way that only some single-focus Democrats could demonstrate. Bonior had better hope that Newt Gingrich will be around for awhile, or his lifetime job of vilifying him may disappear.

I suggest that your editorial's comparison of the Gingrich/Dole loan to the Democrats picking up contributions for the Lincoln Bedroom sleepovers is a poor analogy. The difference is that the loan is detailed and upfront--a difference that would also not easily be recognized by most congressional Democrats or the White House. Why shouldn't Gingrich take an above-the-board loan from a political friend to pay a political fine? Should he go to Bonior?

BOB BALL

Anaheim

* The criminal mentality of our lawmakers was brazenly revealed when they urged Gingrich to use political money to pay the fine because they feared that his use of personal funds would set a bad precedent (April 17). "For lawmakers of lesser means, they argued, such a fine could impose crippling financial problems." Not if they were law-abiding citizens, it wouldn't!

JILL CHAPIN

Santa Monica

* Rep. Gingrich's dismay over the public's distrust of politicians seems topped only by his concerns about setting a precedent where other members of Congress would have to take personal responsibility for their unethical behavior.

JOSEPH K. LYOU

El Segundo

* Amazing! Gingrich, the deficit hawk, is going to borrow money to pay his debts. If he believes the government must budget the way individuals do, is he setting a new example? Whatever happened to his opposition to deficit spending, and at 10% interest?

SYLVIA LAMONT

Gardena

* Regarding Gingrich's $300,000 fee and the terms in which he pays it: Speaker Gingrich was hit by 81 politically motivated ethics charges, 80 of which were declared untrue by the ethics committee. Reimbursement for the $300,000 it took to investigate those meritless charges should have been borne by Bonior, the House minority whip, who brought the charges.

The Ethics Committee stipulated that the money is a fee for investigative costs, not a fine. The investigation was protracted because of the frivolous nature of the 80 Democratic charges. Newt shouldn't have had to pay a dime of that money.

JASON McNEILL

Mission Viejo

* Bob Dole called his $300,000 low-interest deferred-payment loan to Gingrich "a long-term investment in the future of our party." Sounds like an investment in the future of his wife, Elizabeth, whose prospects for the presidency Dole has been recently touting. His dramatic gesture is a sign of life in a man who was the butt of jokes about death warmed over, and he may believe a GOP that lauds him for his generosity will be useful to enhance his wife's political success down the road.

JANE W. PRETTYMAN

Santa Barbara

* Gingrich accepts a loan from Dole so he can pay his fine and all the Democratic ducks line up to complain because Dole now works for a group that lobbies for American tobacco interests.

Maybe Newt would be better off declining Bob's offer and instead asking John Huang to arrange a loan through the Lippo Bank.

BRUCE ROLAND

Ojai

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