Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who spurred the ethics investigation of House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) and focused attention on Wright’s 55% book royalties, has an unusual book arrangement of his own.
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% hard-cover 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 said in an interview Sunday 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% share and thus a portion of the tax benefits from the partnership’s continuing annual losses.
The congressman said the partnership was his idea. It spent $70,000 for promotion. Nearly $6,000 of the other $35,000 remains, Marianne Gingrich said, with the rest of the money going to her and for legal, accounting and other costs.
Baen, who did not know Gingrich before he met him at a conference on space and technology, said he has not entered into such a promotion partnership before or since and did not know of another like it in the publishing industry.
Gingrich is running for election this week to replace former Rep. Dick Cheney (R-Wyo.), the new secretary of defense, as Republican whip, the second-ranking GOP leader in the House. Gingrich asked Friday if he could delay detailed responses about the partnership because it would be to his “disadvantage” to have a story appear before the whip election, saying that he had a book deal “equally as weird as Jim Wright’s.”
Gingrich was first queried about the partnership arrangement last August, but only recently began providing documentation. In agreeing to answer detailed questions, he said his publishing venture differed from Wright’s. “We wrote a real book for a real company that was sold in real bookstores,” he said.
House Democrats attacked Gingrich last year, in the wake of the Wright investigation, for a previous book partnership he set up in 1977. That partnership advanced him $13,000 to write a novel that was never published.