According to in-depth research that CNN has done, including viewing the divorce papers that were thought to have been sealed, it appears that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has been lying to the press about the facts surrounding his first divorce.
I'm not surprised that he'd be dishonest about this subject. Are you?
For a long time, and with his daughter's help, Gingrich has claimed that it was his first wife who wanted the divorce.
Well, what it really looks like is that the two of them were unhappily married for years, and while the wife wanted a separation with financial support because of an affair that Gingrich was carrying on with the woman who would soon become his second wife, it was Gingrich himself who filed for divorce. His campaign website claims
"It was (Jackie Gingrich) that requested the divorce, not Newt."
But that's based upon the story that his daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman tells.
"My mother and father were already in the process of getting a divorce, which she requested," Cushman wrote.
After initially being told that the divorce documents were sealed, CNN on Thursday obtained the folder containing the filings in the divorce, which had been stashed away for years in a Carroll County, Georgia, court clerk's drawer. Retired clerk Kenneth Skinner told CNN his deputy took Gingrich's file out of the public records room around 1994, "when he (Gingrich) became the center of attention," because Skinner feared tampering and theft.
"During these years, you had to make sure those papers were there," Skinner said. "People could go in those files and get things out. We didn't have enough security to control it."
See the link I provided at the top of this diary to see the divorce filing paperwork. According to her reply to his initial divorce filing, she didn't want the divorce - which is directly contradictory to what Newt Gingrich and his campaign has been assserting. Quoting from the document...
"Defendant shows that she has adequate and ample grounds for divorce, but that she does not desire one at this time," her petition said.
"Although defendant does not admit that this marriage is irretrievably broken, defendant has been hopeful that an arrangement for temporary support of defendant and the two minor daughters of the parties could be mutually agreed upon without the intervention of this court," her petition said. "All efforts to date have been unsuccessful."
In 1985 the former Mrs Gingrich said
"He can say that we had been talking about it for 10 years, but the truth is that it came as a complete surprise."
That doesn't sound like someone who wanted the divorce.
If you read the rest of the investigation that CNN published today, you'll see that even Newt's former friends don't support his version of events. They say that it was Newt who wanted the divorce. It was Newt who derisively described his wife as too ugly to be the wife of a president. It was Newt to failed to provide sufficient monies to his soon-to-be ex-wife to pay the utility payments, and it wasn't until he was court-ordered to do so that he paid the months-old bills and brought them current.
Newt Gingrich's first campaign treasurer, fellow History professor at West Georgia College and longtime friend, 'Kip' Carter, says that he broke off his friendship with Gingrich due to the shabby treatment that his first wife suffered from. Carter told CNN that Newt wouldn't give his family "a dime" in the first months after the separation.
Factcheck.org recently 'debunked' the idea that the first Mrs Gingrich was literally served divorce papers while she was in the hospital while on her deathbed. But just because that particular version of the story isn't totally accurate, it doesn't make him a good guy. He brought his daughters to visit their mother in the hospital, after she'd had surgery, and he presented divorce/separation/support agreement documents with him, and a huge fight ensued.
Mother Jones, Nov. 1, 1984: Jackie had undergone surgery for cancer of the uterus during the 1978 campaign, a fact Gingrich was not loath to use in conversations or speeches that year. After the separation in 1980, she had to be operated on again, to remove another tumor.
While she was still in the hospital, according to Howell, “Newt came up there with his yellow legal pad, and he had a list of things on how the divorce was going to be handled. He wanted her to sign it. She was still recovering from surgery, still sort of out of it, and he comes in with a yellow sheet of paper, handwritten, and wants her to sign it.”
In the Factcheck article, they quote a Washington Post article from 1985, where Newt discusses going to his wife's hospital room to discuss divorce details immediately after she'd had surgery to remove a tumor.
Asked if he had handled the matter in an insensitive manner, Gingrich told the Post: “All I can say is when you been talking about divorce for 11 years and you’ve gone to a marriage counselor, and the other person doesn’t want the divorce, I’m not sure there is any sensitive way to handle it.”
The "other person" who didn't want the divorce? That'd be his first wife. That'd mean that he and his campaign are lying when they claim that it was the first wife that wanted the divorce.