Entries in Speaking (2)


Two Women Reps. Banned from Speaking in Michigan House

Michael Snell/Getty Images(LANSING, Mich.) -- Their job may be to give a voice to their constituents, but two Michigan state representatives had to do that job silently Thursday after they were banned from speaking on the House floor.

Representatives Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum, both Democrats, were barred from participating in debates Thursday because they were “disrupting decorum” during debate on Wednesday over three bills that would put restrictions on abortions, said Ari Adler, spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger.

The cause of Brown’s gag order was this statement, which she made during a floor speech opposing a bill that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks: “I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.”

Byrum’s speaking privileges were revoked after the state congresswoman shouted multiple times at the legislature’s chairman that she should be given a chance to speak on her amendment, a chance she was not given during debate Wednesday.

“This is yet another example of this Republican majority’s misogynistic and cowardly tactics,” Brown said in a statement. “Regardless of their reasoning, this is a violation of my First Amendment rights and directly impedes my ability to serve the people who elected me into office.”

Adler said the Republican leadership’s verbal order barring the two representatives from speaking was nothing new in the Michigan state house.

“It was a rather common practice when House Democrats had control and would not recognize any Republicans to speak,” Adler said.

The Democrats were just as up in arms about why they were prohibited from speaking as they were that their speaking privileges were being revoked.

“If they are going to legislate my anatomy, I see no reason why I cannot mention it,” Brown said of her choice to use the word “vagina.”

But Adler insisted Brown was not being reprimanded because of the word, but rather because of the context, which he said was “inappropriate.”

The representatives’ outbursts came during a day of heated debate over a bill that would implement screenings to see if doctors were coercing patients to get abortions, mandate in-person consultations with a physician before women can purchase the morning-after pill,  and increase the licensing and insurance requirements for abortion-performing doctors and clinics.

The bill passed the House on Wednesday and the Senate is expected to begin debating it in the fall.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


When the Speaker Speaks: Paid Gigs Await Newt

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Newt Gingrich’s campaign might be on the brink, but no one should worry about the former House speaker if he doesn’t win the nomination. He can return to a life of high-paid speaking gigs.

Gingrich, who was represented by the ubiquitous Washington Speakers Bureau before he ran for president, was paid $60,000 every time he spoke to a group in his post-congressional career, according to his own account. The raised profile that his presidential campaign has brought him could jack up that price even more.

The millions of dollars that make up Gingrich’s wealth have come from a combination of consulting and speaking work. Last year, he revealed his price tag while meeting with voters in South Carolina, countering the idea that he left Congress to become a cash-driven lobbyist.

“I did no lobbying of any kind, period,” Gingrich said. “I’m going to be really direct, O.K.? I was charging $60,000 a speech. And the number of speeches was going up, not down. Normally, celebrities leave and they gradually sell fewer speeches every year. We were selling more.”

Gingrich’s campaign wouldn’t confirm the figure. In an email, Gingrich spokesman Joe DeSantis said that “since every contract was negotiated separately (Washington Speakers Bureau represented Newt) it was our policy not to share that information.”

The cost appears to be true though. Two years ago, Gingrich was paid $60,750 by a private-equity firm to speak about the industry, a speech that drew scrutiny this year after the firm’s managing director confirmed the ex-speaker’s comments as he was campaigning against Mitt Romney’s background in the business.

“This gentleman praised private equity more fulsomely than I could ever do it,” the director, Paul Levy, told Bloomberg TV. “He was great. He gave a great evening. Everybody had fun. He fielded a lot of questions. He gave us a lot of time.”

The Washington Speakers Bureau didn’t respond to requests for details of Gingrich’s speaking engagements, and he has released tax returns for only 2010, when he reported making $21,625 in speaking fees -- less than the $60,000 per speech he said he was worth.

Shawn Ellis, the founder of the management firm The Speakers Group, said fees for high-profile gigs can run as high as $200,000, and sometimes well more than that.

Bill Clinton, for example, made $51.9 million from speeches from 2000 to 2006, according to tax returns released by his wife’s presidential campaign in 2008.

“As with anything, it’s a free market, and it’s all about supply and demand,” said Ellis, who doesn’t represent Gingrich. “There’s a limited supply of these high-profile individuals, and they have a unique perspective to share, unique expertise. There’s a value on that.”

For now, of course, Gingrich delivers his stump speeches daily across the country -- for free.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio