In a Nov. 21 NewsBusters post, Clay Waters complained that a New York Times story about former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh being caught in corruption involving shady deals regarding sales of a children's book series she wrote "cynically lumped in non-criminal behavior with what Pugh was convicted of doing." This being NewsBusters, Waters was particularly upset that the Times referenced a shady book deal involving Newt Gingrich:
Finally, reaching back to 1988, [writer Emily] Eakin found a Democratic book controversy, involving powerful House Speaker Jim Wright, who had to resign. Yet unwilling to let a Democrat take the blame alone, she made a false moral equivalency, comparing Wright’s situation with another “unorthodox book arrangement” on behalf of Gingrich, who had made Wright’s reign a target of ethical scrutiny. Wright was engaged in genuinely sleazy activity, which resulted in 69 counts of ethics violations (he resigned to avoid being indicted), while Gingrich’s deal was above board.
Yet Eakin lazily equated the two stories[.]
"Gingrich’s deal was above board"? Not so much. The Washington Post explained it in 1989:
When Gingrich and his wife, Marianne, wrote the nonfiction book "Window of Opportunity" with David Drake in 1984, they signed a contract to share a standard 10 percent hardcover royalty. But they also took the unusual step of setting up a limited partnership, which raised $105,000 from Republican political activists and business people around the country, to promote sales of the book. Normally, a publisher pays for promotion. The idea, Gingrich said in an interview late Friday, was that a large publicity budget could "force a best seller. I was real naive." The 21 investors in the COS Limited Partnership each put up $5,000 and were to split half of the publisher's profits. But sales of the book were modest, and there were no profits. The publisher, Jim Baen, of Baen Enterprises, lost money on the venture. This created a tax benefit for the partners. Gingrich did not have a share of the partnership, but his wife, Marianne, said in an interview yesterday that she has been paid close to $10,000 by the partnership for her work as general partner. She said she put no money into COS but got a 2 percent share and thus a portion of the tax benefits from the partnership's continuing annual losses.
Another 1989 Post article pointed out that Gingrich's book was "paid for by political supporters and constituents, several of them with an interest in legislation," and that even Gingrich admitted the promotion scheme was "weird."
Just because it was apparently legal doesn't mean it wasn't a bit on the shady side.
UPDATE: A bio of Gingrich reported that he violated House rules by using his congressional office staff to work on the book by editing and sending out drafts of the book -- and it was just one of a number of shady book deals Gingrich has been involved with. Relly, "above board" is a phrase that has not normally been associated with Gingrich.