Congressional Post Office scandal. Gingrich used his influence over the Republican partyto draft the Contract with America, a platform of 10 policies they would push for if theRepublicanstook the majority in the congressional elections. The contract includedwelfare reform, tougher crime laws, a balanced budget, and other conservative policies.Sure enough, the 1994 congressional elections brought about what would be called the"Republican Revolution." After four decades of Democratic control, the GOP won themajority in the House, and Gingrich was elected speaker. Fiercely opposed to manypolicies of President Clinton, Gingrich was instrumental in getting Clinton to reluctantlysign the GOP's welfare reform act after two initial vetoes. It was a major victory forGingrich. Gingrich also had other major pieces of legislation passed, including abalanced budget and a capital gains tax cut.
Gingrich's accomplishments were not without controversy. His popularity began todecline amidst partial government shutdowns in 1995. Gingrich was widely blamed forthe shutdowns, after he had refused to compromise with President Clinton on budgetcuts.Ethical considerations were at the heart of much criticism of the speaker. In 1995, hereturned a $4.5 million book advance that the House Ethics Committee had questioned. Another ethics investigation arose about whether Gingrich had used tax-exemptdonations to fund a college course he had taught while serving in Congress. Gingrichnegotiated an agreement with the House Ethics Committee, and he payed $300,000 forthe cost of the investigation. The House voted to reprimand him by a vote of 395 to 28.In 1997, Gingrich was narrowly re-elected.
In 1998, a scandal broke that would have a big impact on Gingrich's career. Clinton wasalleged to have lied before a federal grand jury about his extramarital affair with WhiteHouse intern Monica Lewinsky. Gingrich pushed for impeachment, and for Clinton'sremoval from office. Congressional hearings and a media frenzy created a backlashagainst Republicans, as many voters felt they had gone too far.In the 1998 midterm elections, Republicans lost five seats to Democrats. The tides hadturned against Gingrich, and even members of his own party were critical of thespeaker's tactics and the image he projected of the Republican party. In November1998, Gingrich stepped down as speaker of the House. In January 1999, he resignedhis seat in Congress.
Gingrich remained involved in politics, serving as a consultant and televisioncommentator on the Fox News Channel. In 2007, he founded American Solutions forWinning the Future, a public policy organization. In May 2011, Gingrich announced hewould seek the Republican nomination for president.