The best offense is a good defense: That seems to be the playbook for the Restore Our Future super PAC.
The game started when Newt Gingrich attacked Mitt Romney for laying off workers while Romney worked at Bain Capital. Then Restore our Future, which is run by Romney supporters, attacked Gingrich for some his previous positions. (Super PACs operate outside of official campaigns and don’t have to follow the same rules.)
"Newt Gingrich’s attacks are called 'foolish,' 'out of bounds,' and 'disgusting.' Newt attacks because he has more baggage than the airlines," says the ad, which is running in Florida and South Carolina.
"Newt was fined $300,000 for ethics violations, took $1.6 million from Freddie Mac, and co-sponsored a bill with Nancy Pelosi that would have given $60 million a year to a U.N. program supporting China’s brutal one-child policy."
"Don’t be fooled by Newt’s desperate attacks," the ad concludes.
The ad is right that Gingrich was fined $300,000 for ethics violations. Gingrich also concedes that he advised Freddie Mac. (Bloomberg reported he was paid $1.6 million, but that specific amount rests on unnamed sources.)
Here, we wanted to fact-check whether Gingrich "co-sponsored a bill with Nancy Pelosi that would have given $60 million a year to a U.N. program supporting China’s brutal one-child policy."
For its evidence, the ad points to H.R. 1078, from Feb. 22, 1989. We went to the archives to check on the bill’s details.
The bill in question was called the Global Warming Prevention Act of 1989. It set national goals to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and encouraged international agreements to address global warming. It required the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency to monitor global warming and create plans for future action. It supported stricter fuel standards for cars and alternative energy. It also sent money to developing countries to encourage practices that reduce carbon emissions. (See our fact-check of how Gingrich's statements on global warming and cap-and-trade policies have changed over the years.)
The bill had several hearings, but received unfavorable reviews from the George H.W. Bush administration and never became law.
Getting back to the ad’s specific claims, it says that Gingrich co-sponsored the bill with Nancy Pelosi. The bill’s primary sponsor was Rep. Claudine Schneider, R-R.I. It’s true that both Gingrich and Pelosi were co-sponsors. But the bill had 144 co-sponsors, roughly a third of the U.S. House of Representatives. (Gingrich was not speaker at this time; Democrats still held the majority.) Congressional records indicate Pelosi signed onto the bill the day it was introduced, while close to four months passed before Gingrich signed on as a co-sponsor.
Next, the ad says the bill "would have given $60 million a year to a UN program supporting China’s brutal one-child policy." China’s one-child policy generally refers to the government’s efforts to limit population growth to one child per couple. Human rights advocates say the policy has resulted in forced sterilizations and abortions.
The Restore our Future website says the $60 million went to the United Nations Population Fund and that President Ronald Reagan withheld funds from the program after he determined the program, which supports family planning and contraception, was supporting Chinese actions.
We won’t attempt to relitigate here whether the United Nations Population Fund supported Chinese policy, because we soon found evidence that the bill’s authors did not support those policies.
In the same section that authorizes funding, there’s this stipulation: "None of the funds authorized by this section may be used to pay for the performance of involuntary sterilization or abortion or to coerce any person to accept family planning."
The ad says that Gingrich "co-sponsored a bill with Nancy Pelosi that would have given $60 million a year to a U.N. program supporting China’s brutal one-child policy." Actually, the bill attempted to address climate change, and a third of House members were co-sponsors. The bill did propose money for the United Nations Population Fund, but it stated specifically that its funding could not be used for "involuntary sterilization or abortion or to coerce any person to accept family planning." The ad’s claim rests on repeated distortions, so we rate the statement Pants on Fire!