Newt Gingrich’s Former Staff Was Pretty Worried About That Tiffany Charge Account

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Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Although presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has tried to brush off stories of his massive charge account at Tiffany & Co. as a distraction, turns out his staff was pretty worried it'd be a problem for the campaign. From the Washington Post:

The extravagant appearance of the purchases also generated concern among employees in 2008 when some Gingrich companies encountered financial difficulties. Over the next two years, bonuses and pension contributions were reduced or eliminated. Even though the Gingriches were using their personal funds for the Tiffany items, the disparity made some employees uncomfortable.

That sounds bad.

Back in June, sixteen Gingrich staffers resigned, blaming Newt's wife, Calista, for controlling his campaign schedule too tightly. But according to the Post, the Tiffany account was a contributing cause of concern. The Gingrich's spending was just so ... profligate:

The purchases included jewelry items valued as much as $300,000 for his wife's Christmas gifts, selected each year during a fall Potomac River cruise sponsored by the jeweler. On a smaller scale, Gingrich spent about $40,000 over four years buying Tiffany trinkets as Christmas gifts for up to 100 employees, according to three former employees who asked not to be named because of the issue's sensitivity...

The former employees said Gingrich’s gift-giving at first was regarded as a sign of his generosity. At annual Christmas dinners for employees, small Tiffany boxes wrapped in white ribbon were left at each place setting, each containing gifts costing roughly $100 or more.

The Gingriches were generous to staff in other ways, typically contributing up to 20 percent of each staffer’s salary to their pension funds and giving a minimum year-end bonus of 20 percent of base salary — often much more.

Yeah ... that sounds ... terrible. Definitely a reason to quit.

Employees had been increasingly troubled by Gingrich’s Tiffany purchases [WP]