Gingrich implores GOP to 'clean it up' Visits SLC: The former House speaker says he is 'sickened' by the current climate of scandal By Glen Warchol The Salt Lake Tribune
Newt Gingrich, ''We have to set a standard as a party.''
The Clinton era's Republican firebrand of political reform says he is "sickened" by recent scandals involving GOP congressional leadership. "This is the biggest crossroads for the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan came to the presidency in 1980," said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was in Salt Lake City on Thursday to speak to the conservative Sutherland Institute. "I'm for more aggressive leadership in the Republican Party and more principled leadership." Gingrich said he was deeply troubled by the resignation Monday of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., and by the widening bribery and ethics investigation into the activities of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. "Frankly, it sickens me," Gingrich said. He called on Republicans to lead on ethics reform. "You have to clean it up. You can't tolerate it. You can't excuse it," Gingrich said during a brief news conference after visiting Salt Lake City's Shriners Hospital. "We have to set a standard as a party." Cunningham resigned after admitting to taking $2.4 million in bribes. Abramoff's partner Michael Scanlon pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to bribe a congressman and other public officials. Rep. Robert W. Ney, R-Ohio, has been linked to Abramoff, but maintains he was lied to by the lobbyist and denies allegations of improper influence. Scanlon served as a press secretary to then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who stepped down from the No. 2 post in the House after being indicted in Texas on charges related to improper fundraising.