Asking people to pay $50,000 for a fund-raising dinner to benefit a private television network is better than asking taxpayers to support public broadcasting, House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday.
The Georgia Republican said the intimate dinner he is hosting with millionaire California Republicans Michael and Arianna Huffington to raise funds for the conservative National Empowerment Television network was in the best spirit of charitable giving.
“All the folks who have been so busy defending various government tax-payed institutions, I challenge them to now attack the idea of privately raising money for private institutions,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich said he’s attending the Feb. 7 dinner at Washington’s historic Hay-Adams Hotel for NET because, “I believe in it as a cause. I’m not prepared to ask them to become the second public broadcasting network so I’m not going to raise your taxes.”
The $50,000 contributions would be tax-deductible because NET is a not-for-profit organization.
Gingrich has supported Republican proposals to eliminate or drastically cut funding for public broadcasting.
The Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday that about a dozen people are expected to attend the dinner, bringing in some $600,000 for NET.
Gingrich also said there was noth ing wrong with those at the dinner getting tax deductions for their donations.
“The average American, I suspect, would rather have private charities and private organizations to get a tax deduction, that is they prefer the Salvation Army to having their taxes raised to pay for another bureaucracy.”