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Gingrich acknowledges Freddie Mac consulting fees

URBANDALE, Iowa (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich acknowledged Wednesday that he had received consulting fees from troubled mortgage giant Freddie Mac for providing 'strategic advice.'

Campaigning in Iowa, Gingrich said he did not believe he was contracted by the government-controlled housing finance giant as a friendly voice who would avoid criticizing it.

'I was approached. I was glad to offer strategic advice and we did it for a number of companies and Gingrich Group was very successful,' he told reporters.

He was reacting to a Bloomberg News story that said he had been paid between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with Freddie Mac, the nation's second-largest provider of mortgage funds.

The story said Gingrich's first contract with Freddie Mac began five months after he resigned in 1999 from Congress and as speaker of the House. His last contract ended in 2008, it said.

Freddie Mac and its larger competitor, Fannie Mae, have soaked up about $169 billion in federal aid since they were rescued by the government in 2008 as mortgage losses mounted. Both companies were chartered by Congress to foster a liquid mortgage market.

Like other Republican candidates, Gingrich has advocated the two mortgage firms be shut down.

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