A watchdog group is urging the House ethics committee to censure or expel Speaker Newt Gingrich as punishment for ethical violations, while a prominent conservative columnist says he should step aside.
“The ethics committee should censure or expel Speaker Newt Gingrich,” said Gary Ruskin, director of the Congressional Accountability Project, in a letter to the chairman and vice chairman of the ethics panel.
Meanwhile, New York Times columnist William Safire, in a column published Thursday, told Gingrich to step down as speaker for the good of his party, country, the conservative cause and his long-term career.
“Gingrich should punish himself and promote his cause by honorably stepping down without being toppled,” Safire wrote.
Tony Blankley, Gingrich’s spokesman, said the speaker would have no comment on either development.
Last week Gingrich admitted that he broke House rules by failing to ensure that his charity-financed college course and televised town meeting did not violate federal tax law and by giving false statements to the committee during its investigation. Federal tax law forbids the use of tax-deductible charitable contributions for partisan purposes.
In recent days a steady drumbeat of editorial criticism has begun to sound throughout the country. At least six other Republican House members, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Marge Roukema of New Jersey, Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, Bob Ehrlich of Maryland and Mac Collins of Georgia, have said in published comments that they intend to wait and see what the ethics committee does before deciding on the vote for speaker.