Cruisin' For an Audit

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Having paid his debt to the ethics committee with $300,000 of Bob Dole's money, Newt Gingrich now wants to write off the loan on his taxes as a business expense. The legal question hinges on whether or not the $300,000 indeed constitutes a work-related expense or, as Democrats have relentlessly characterized it, a penalty, which would not be deductible. That might be settled by an examination of the Speaker's agreement with the ethics committee. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee loudly protested the possibility that the man who says the government takes too much money from the average worker could end up with those same workers footing part of his tab. "Do you think taxpayers should pay Gingrich's fine?" the Committee asked in a statement. The Committee also announced an upcoming telephone hotline where angry voters can sound off -- for 99 cents a call.