Gingrich: Dented But Intact

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: House Speaker Newt Gingrich has made it through an ethics committee investigation with a punishment that will allow him to keep his job, but not without a few dents. A House ethics subcommittee will recommend that Gingrich be reprimanded for admittedly violating House rules, according to the Associated Press, but will stop short of imposing a more serious punishment such as a censure, which would make him ineligible to serve as Speaker. The recommendation is expected to go to the full ethics committee next Wednesday, a day after the House votes to elect a Speaker. Gingrich must now address the only remaining obstacle to his re-election to the post: possible defections from his own party. Some Republicans are leery of re-electing Gingrich unless he has been exonerated by the Ethics Committee, which has already dismissed more than 70 of the allegations against him. The reprimand, reportedly negotiated by Gingrich’s attorneys when he agreed to admit violations, hardly constitutes a clean slate, but Gingrich and his supporters will do their best to dismiss its importance. One factor in his favor: the outrage many Republicans feel over the prospect that Gingrich might lose his job over behavior that, while clearly wrong, looks no worse than that of the President and his party. In addition, the GOP has no obvious alternatives for speaker, since Majority Leader Dick Armey and Whip Tom Delay are loyal to Gingrich. Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak Thursday proposed Bob Dole for the job. While there's nothing in the Constitution that says the Speaker has to be a member of Congress, Dole has not shown any interest in the idea. For Gingrich, who is being forced to fight for the job he looks certain to win, the handicapping of his chances underway on the Hill is the perhaps the most unnerving result of the committee report.