Rep. Newt Gingrich’s publisher filled five bulk orders for less than 600 copies of the speaker’s book, “To Renew America,” the firm said Monday.
The statement by HarperCollins followed inquiries to the company by the House ethics committee, which sought information on bulk sales. The committee is trying to determine whether books were ordered by organizations with an interest in legislation.
The written announcement did not identify who made the bulk orders, and company officials would not reveal the information Monday. Gingrich spokesman Tony Blankley said the speaker had no role in arranging for any bulk sales.
Gingrich, in Boys Town, Neb., said of the controversy: “It’s very silly.”
HarperCollins said its Special Markets department - which handles bulk orders - “has records of filling five orders” for less than 600 books.
Jack McKeown, vice president and publisher of HarperCollins’ Adult Trade Group, said, “A tempest in a teapot doesn’t begin to describe how infinitesimal these sales are. They represent less than 0.001 percent of the 657,948 copies” of the book distributed by the company to date, he said.
The book has been available in bookstores since early July, and was on best-seller lists for most of July and August.
The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct - the ethics committee - in 1989 charged former Speaker Jim Wright, D-Texas, with violating ethics rules through bulk sales of his book.
Wright, who was investigated after an initial complaint filed by Gingrich, was accused by the committee of arranging for organizations to purchase books when he bumped up against a limit on speaking fees.