Newt Gingrich has been a staunch supporter of Donald Trump for quite some time. As such, the former Speaker of the House has developed a close relationship with the president-elect. It was even speculated early on that Gingrich would serve as Trump's Secretary of State. However, in an interview with McClatchy, Gingrich said he wouldn't be part of Trump's Cabinet, rather, he intends "to be focused on strategic planning" for the Republican Party.
Strategic planning isn't all that Gingrich has planned. According to Politico, he recently increased the price of his speaking engagements:
Gingrich’s speaking agency, Worldwide Speakers Group, sent out a notice Thursday afternoon with the subject line "Newt Gingrich Fee Increase." "Few people in the world have as much insight into President-elect Trump’s philosophies, principles and objectives as Newt Gingrich. As the senior voice in the Republican Party and advisor to the new Administration, Gingrich has been at the forefront of the Republican strategy for the last two years," the email read.
Gingrich's fee increased by approximately $15,000, reports Politico. A speech in D.C. will cost $25,000--plus first-class airfare for two; and speeches east and west of Chicago are going for $65,000 and $75,000 respectively.
It's easy to compare what Gingrich is doing with what the Clinton's were accused of doing.
During Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, foreign governments would donate millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, and pay Bill Clinton hundreds of thousands of dollars to give speeches. No proof of impropriety has been uncovered, but there exists ample anecdotal evidence of pay-to-play schemes. This issue dogged Clinton during her run for the presidency.
Newt Gingrich is in a similar position. The former speaker's wife, Callista, is the president of Gingrich Productions (GP), a multimedia organization. The official GP website reads:
Together, Newt and Callista host and produce historical and public policy documentaries, write books and newsletters, give speeches, record audio books, produce photographic essays, and make television and radio appearances. Gingrich Productions also offers strategic planning, consulting, and training for organizations seeking to solve public policy concerns.
It's possible that Newt Gingrich's company could be used to gain access to the president-elect. Though Gingrich won't have an official position in the Trump administration, his involvement with the Party, as well as his closeness to Trump himself puts him at risk of being seen as an influence peddler.
All that's required for an accusation of misconduct is the appearance of impropriety. Considering Trump's track record, the last thing he needs is a Clintonesque pay-to-play scandal hanging over his head.