Ex-House historian suing Newt Gingrich for defamation

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Christina Jeffrey will not give up the fight.

The former House of Representatives historian who was branded an anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer in January 1995 is suing House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) for defamation and breach of contract.

Gingrich hand-picked Jeffrey to serve as House historian last year, but dismissed her after learning that, as a consultant for the Education Department in 1986, she criticized a junior high school Holocaust course for not presenting "the Nazi point of view."

Disclosure of her comments sparked an uproar, with the media and some members of Congress portraying Jeffrey as sympathetic to Nazism.

Jeffrey apologized for her comments and said she was misunderstood. She filed a $17 million lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

Jeffrey has been asking for financial restitution, estimating that her family lost more than $30,000 when it relocated from Atlanta to Washington, then back to Atlanta.

She also wants the congressional record set straight, preferably through a House resolution exonerating her of all charges of racism and anti-Semitism.

A Gingrich spokesman declined to comment on the matter.

An associate professor at Kennesaw State College in Marietta, Ga., Jeffrey, 47, has spent the past 16 months trying to clear her name.

While accepting "full responsibility as speaker" for the way Jeffrey was treated, Gingrich lashed out and blamed the media for creating the "feeding frenzy" that surrounded Jeffrey's dismissal.

But he stopped short of acknowledging that he or his office played a role in feeding the frenzy.

Gingrich proposed convening a conference to examine Jeffrey's case and other examples of the way the media and Washington treat appointees. He also said he would explore the possibility of hiring Jeffrey in some capacity as a consultant within the House of Representatives.

But Gingrich has not made good on his promises, Jeffrey said.