WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- A think tank created by Republican U.S. presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich collected at least $37 million over eight years from major healthcare companies.
The Center for Health Transformation, which opened in 2003, offers insurers and other healthcare firms "access to Newt Gingrich" for membership dues of as much as $200,000 a year, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker who left the widely successful consultant group this year to run for president, has recently been criticized after Bloomberg News reported he received hefty consulting fees from Freddie Mac, a mortgage corporation many conservatives blame for the housing crisis.
Gingrich has since acknowledged he consulted for the mortgage company "over a long period of time."
"I was approached to offer strategic advice; I was glad to offer strategic advice," Gingrich told reporters in Iowa this week. "We did it for a number of companies, and Gingrich Group was very successful."
The healthcare center has long list of members, including Blue Cross, Blue Shield, GE Healthcare and the American Hospital Association.
Several firms say their membership to the think tank is a way to share information about potential healthcare reform.
"We engage with a variety of organizations to participate in public policy discussions on issues impacting our business," said Tony Jewell, spokesman for drugmaker AstraZeneca.