Follow the Money

The Newted 100 dollar billFormer House Speaker Newt Gingrich has won the South Carolina GOP presidential primary, defeating Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Despite claiming to be an outsider, Gingrich has been in Washington a long time. Since he was first elected in 1979, Gingrich has heavily relied on support from his home state, as well as the health and financial sectors, to fund his campaigns.


A look at Gingrich’s fundraising profile shows the former Georgia congressman has relied heavily on his home state for campaign cash.

Atlanta, in particular, has been a crucial artery to his coffers.

Of the top 11 donors to Gingrich since the 1990 election cycle, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics, four have headquarters in Atlanta: Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola Inc. and BellSouth and AT&T Mobility (both of which are subsidiaries of AT&T).

Delta Airlines employees have provided Gingrich and his political committees $58,000 since 1989, $36,500 of which came through its political action committee.

And fellow aircraft company Lockheed Martin, whose aviation affiliate Lockheed Martin Aeronatics is based in the Atlanta area, has also been a large contributor over the years. The defense contractor has given Gingrich $43,000 over the years, almost all through its PAC.

Gingrich, who founded the House Aviation and Space Caucus during his early years in Congress, also counts two aviation trade groups among his biggest donors.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has given Gingrich $58,000 and Air Line Pilots Association $18,500 through their respective PACs. In fact, the air transport industry as a whole has given Gingrich nearly $280,000 over the years, the 11th most of any industry.

The air transport industry was also his third-biggest source of funding the last time he ran for office, for Georgia’s 6th Congressional district (which includes suburban Atlanta) in 1998.

Coca-Cola has been another robust source of homegrown cash for Gingrich’s political career.

Employees of the Atlanta-based beverage giant have contributed $57,000 to his campaign since 1989.

Flowers Foods, a Georgia-based bakery whose products include bread brands Nature’s Own and Sunbeam, has followed Coke’s lead — its employees have given Gingrich $33,000 since 1989.

Altogether the food and beverage industry has provided him with nearly $400,000 over that time. And in the 1998 election cycle, his last until this year, it gave him $80,000 — more than any other politician.

Geographically speaking, the vast majority of the money Gingrich has raised has come from neighbors back home.

Nineteen of the 25 zip codes that have given the most to Gingrich since 1989 are located in the Atlanta metro area, and together they have accounted for $1.9 million.

In all, Atlanta metro area contributions to Gingrich total $2.9 million of the $3.5 million he has received from the state of Georgia.

Nearby Florida, the second most Gingrich-friendly state, has given him a third of that, despite having four large metro areas that are among Gingrich’s biggest sources of funding.

And as of the end of September, 12 percent of his $2.9 million haul for his 2012 presidential campaign has come from Georgia and 7 percent has come from Florida, according to the Center’s research. Residents of no other states have given more.


The health sector has been a reliable source of funding throughout Gingrich’s political career.

After resigning from Congress in 1998, healthcare became one of his pet issues. In 2003, he founded the Center for Health Transformation, a healthcare think tank that charged large healthcare firms annual dues to discuss, and attempt to influence, healthcare policy in Washington, as the Washington Post previously reported.

Altogether the sector has accounted for $1.1 million in contributions, fourth-most among all sectors.

Eight of the top 50 companies in terms of donations to Gingrich since 1989 fall into the health sector, and five of these are among the top 25.

Health professionals have given Gingrich almost $700,000 over the course of his career, fourth-most among all industries.

Golden Rule Financial, a health insurance and finance services company, has been Gingrich’s No. 1 supporter, according to the Center’s research. Employees of this UnitedHealth Group subsidiary have donated $75,500 to Gingrich since 1989, of which $57,500 has come from individuals and $18,000 from its corporate PAC.

In general, insurance companies — and particularly health-related ones like Golden Rule — have been generous to Gingrich. The industry has given him about $800,000, and five insurance companies are among his top 100 donors.

The employees of HealthSouth Corp., his largest insurance contributor, have given him $60,000 since 1989, the fifth-most of any organization that’s given to Gingrich. And another Georgia company, supplemental insurance provider AFLAC Inc., has given him $50,000 over the years, mostly through its PAC.

Several other insurance firms have also contributed more than $20,000 to Gingrich, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance and New York Life Insurance.


Though the health sector and his home state stand out the most in Gingrich’s fundraising career, it is the deep-pocketed finance sector that have given him the most money.

This sector, which includes finance, real estate and insurance interests, has donated $2.9 million to Gingrich and his political committees over the years. The largest chunk of this has come from insurance groups, which have given about $800,000. Notably, the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, the fourth-largest political giver in the insurance industry this cycle, has given Gingrich $56,000 since 1989.

The securities and investment industry, led by Citigroup’s $65,000 in donations, has contributed $717,000 to Gingrich’s cause. Other Gingrich supporters in this industry include Merrill Lynch, which has given him $41,000 since 1989, Morgan Stanley, which has given $32,000 and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, which has given $49,000.

Real estate interests such as the National Association of Realtors, which has contributed $48,500 to Gingrich since 1989, make up $611,000 of the $2.9 million total from FIRE interests.

Center for Responsive Politics senior researcher Douglas Weber contributed to this report.

Editor's note: This story originally posted January 21, 2012 at and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Feature image created for - the source image for this caricature is a Creative Commons licensed image from Gage Skidmore's flickr photostream via Wikimedia Commons.
Seth Cline

Seth Cline

Seth Cline joined the Center for Responsive Politics in September 2011 after graduating from the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May. He previously worked as an editorial intern at Forbes, writing for its Leadership section and Corporate Responsibility Blog, and at The Daily Tar Heel, where he served as lead elections reporter in 2010.