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With two days to go before Florida’s Republican primary, Newt Gingrich appeared on Face the Nation in Miami Jan. 29, 2012 and lashed out at Mitt Romney for giving dollars to Democrats.
"It is a fact in 1992, (Romney) gave money to Democrats for Congress, (and) he voted in the Democratic Primary for Paul Tsongas who was the most liberal candidate," Gingrich said.
We fact-checked Romney’s claim from the Jan. 26 Jacksonville debate, "I’ve never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot," and gave that a Half True. Romney acknowledged that he voted for Tsongas in the 1992 presidential primary; he could have voted in the Republican primary instead.
In this fact-check, we will focus on whether Romney gave money to Democrats running for Congress in 1992.
We emailed Romney spokespersons and did not get a response. But we found plenty of news articles and data that related to Gingrich’s claim.
Romney mostly donated to Republicans
When we searched the Federal Election Commission website we found Romney donations only going back to 1997. At our request, the FEC ran a report for us that included donations from 1998 back to 1988.
That data showed three donations to Democrats in 1992: $1,000 to Douglas Anderson, $250 to John LaFalce and $250 to Richard Swett. (More on these candidates in a bit.) That information was in line with what the Gingrich campaign provided us, as well as election contributions gathered by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
We couldn’t help but notice, however, that during the past 20 years the bulk of donations made by Romney were to Republican candidates or committees. We found the easiest way to search his donations was by looking at the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets website -- searching both by Mitt Romney and his actual first name, Willard Romney.
Searching this way, we found donations to about 23 individuals, and only three were Democrats. Sometimes Romney gave to the same individual more than once so ultimately there were far more than two dozen donations to candidates. Romney also gave thousands to state and national Republican committees. Interestingly, he also made donations to one of his current rivals for the Republican nomination -- Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
What the three Democrats said about Romney
Even though the donations to Democrats were exceptions to the rule, let’s take a closer look at the three Democratic candidates:
• U. S. Rep. Richard Swett was a U.S. Representative from New Hampshire from Jan. 3, 1991 to Jan. 3, 1995. Swett was later the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark and now is CEO of Climate Prosperity Enterprise Solutions in New Hampshire.
• Douglas Delano Anderson was a Harvard Business school professor who lost a Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Utah in 1992. Anderson is now a Dean at the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University.
• U.S. Rep John J. LaFalce: was a U.S. Representative from New York Jan. 3, 1975 to Jan. 3, 2003. He is now special counsel at a law firm.
The Truth-O-Meter spoke with all three Democrats.
Swett said that he knew Romney since young adulthood -- both had homes on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. Swett also said that like Romney, he is a Mormon.
"I’m a fiscally conservative, socially progressive Democrat," Swett said. "I’ve had a lot of Republicans give in my political career."
Anderson responded in a short email that he and Romney have "been close personal friends for 38 years."
LaFalce told us "I haven’t the vaguest idea" why Romney donated to him. LaFalce said he doesn’t recall meeting Romney personally and speculates that Romney gave to him because LaFalce was an active member of the banking committee. LaFalce said he received a lot of donations from individuals in the financial services industry.
Gingrich said that in 1992, Romney "gave money to Democrats for Congress." We should note that for the past 20 years, Romney has given the majority of his donations to Republican candidates and committees. But Gingrich was specific in his attack here, and Romney did give money to three Democratic candidates that year. We rate Gingrich's claim True.
PolitiFact, "Mitt Romney says "I’ve never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot," Jan. 27, 2012
PolitiFact, "Does Mitt Romney have 15 homes? Woman in Winning Our Future video says he does," Jan. 12, 2012
Human Events, "Mitt Romney’s Swett problem," March 6, 2007
Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House, "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress," 1774-present
Center for Responsive Politics, Donations by Willard Romney, 1990-2006
Federal Election Commission, Donations by Willard Romney, Accessed Jan. 30, 2012
Federal Election Commission, Donations by Willard Romney 1989-1998, Jan. 30, 2012
Swett Associates, Website, Accessed Jan. 30, 2012
Utah State University, Biography of Dean Douglas D. Anderson, Accessed Jan. 30, 2012
Hogan Willig law firm, Biography of John J. LaFalce, Accessed Jan. 30, 2012
Interview, R.C. Hammond, Newt Gingrich spokesman, Jan. 30, 2012
Interview, Christian Hilland, spokesman for the Federal Election Commission, Jan. 30, 2012
Interview, Doug Weber, senior researcher for Center for Responsive Politics, Jan. 30, 2012
Interview, former Congressman John LaFalce, Jan. 30, 2012
Interview, Douglas D. Anderson, former U.S. Senate candidate and now a dean at Utah State University, Jan. 30, 2012
Interview, former Congressman Richard Swett, Jan. 31, 2012
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