July, 2011; Source: Newt Gingrich 2012 (Callista’s Canvas) | As this edition of the Newswire goes to pixels, Newt Gingrich is still a presidential candidate, but that might not be true much longer. On Saturday, Gingrich garnered a measly 2 percent of the vote at the Iowa Republican straw poll in Ames. Any day now, the sputtering campaign of this former Kennesaw State College history teacher may become a tiny part of Republican Party history. Perhaps the Gingrich campaign already knows this, since his wife Callista’s “Charity of the Month” page on the Newt 2012 website is still stuck in July. Her encomium to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation was clearly penned on or around Independence Day.
Still, Newt’s is the one Republican campaign site that makes a special effort to say something about the nonprofit sector. Callista, Newt’s third wife, once worked as an aide to Congressman Steve Gunderson (R-WI), who last month resigned as president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. She is also a philanthropist herself, serving as president of the Gingrich Foundation, which established the Newt L. and Callista L. Gingrich Scholarship at Luther College (Callista’s alma mater) in Decorah, Iowa.
The Thomas Jefferson Foundation owns and operates Monticello, Jefferson’s home, and promotes Jeffersonian scholarship. Unfortunately, among the 14 other items listed in “Callista’s Canvas” on the website, there are no other Charities of the Month. One story briefly described the Gingrichs’ attendance at a program at Rock Springs Church in Milner, Georgia to benefit Melba’s Manor, the Church’s residential maternity home, but that was pretty much it. The rest of her pieces amounted to variations on the theme “Newt is Wonderful,” with the notable exception of a story promoting her forthcoming children’s book Sweet Land of Liberty, complete with pix of Callista standing alongside the book’s main character, a googly-eyed “Ellis the Elephant.”
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It would be more interesting to learn about Callista’s favorite charities. It’s so easy, as we noted during the 2008 and 2010 campaigns, for candidates of all stripes to make facile, generic “I (heart) nonprofits” statements, but when candidates or their designees identify charities they particularly admire and recommend, it tells voters a lot about which qualities of the nonprofit sector they value and respect. C’mon, Callista, tell us about your August Charity of the Month!—Rick Cohen
Editor’s note: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Callista Gingrich as the former president and CEO of the Council on Foundations.