House Reprimands Speaker Gingrich

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to reprimand Speaker Newt Gingrich for actions damaging to the House, and ordered him to pay a fine of $300,000 to reimburse the House for extra work created by his deceptions. By a 395-28 vote, the House found that, "over a number of years and in a number of situations, Mr. Gingrich showed disregard and lack of respect for the standards of conduct that applied to his activities." The report of the ethics committee adopted by the House today specifically cited Gingrich's failure to get proper legal advice before using tax-exempt funds for political purposes, and for providing inaccurate information in response to a direct request from the committee. The two-year investigation was marked by fierce partisanship in the House as a whole, as well as a quiet bipartisan effort in the subcommittee as it evaluated thousands of pages of testimony and evidence. The question of Gingrich's guilt was settled last December 21, when he admitted to a statement of alleged violations. The House process since then has been aimed at producing an appropriate penalty. The verdict of reprimand, rather than a more severe censure, allows Gingrich to continue as Speaker. Committee chair Nancy Johnson characterized the penalty, which she called "tough and unprecedented" but fair, as a signal to all House members that their behavior would be held to the highest standards.