April 5, 2012 / 6:12 PM / 5 years ago

Newt Gingrich's think tank files for bankruptcy

WASHINGTON, April 5 (Reuters) - A healthcare think tank founded by Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has filed for bankruptcy with debts totaling more than $1 million.

The Center for Health Transformation, launched by Gingrich in 2003 and incorporated as the Gingrich Group LLC, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Atlanta, where it has one of its offices. It reported an estimated debt of $1 million to $10 million owed to betw een 50 to 99 creditors.

Gingrich's lawyer Stefan Passantino said the candidate divested all of his interests in the Gingrich Group last year as he prepared for his White House run.

"Clearly when Newt left the room it became much more difficult for them to sell this collaborative project because he was the glue," Passantino said. "It took a year but ultimately it fell under its own weight."

Among the consultancy's creditors were Gingrich himself, his wife, Callista, their video company Gingrich Productions, insurance giant Aflac Inc, telecommunications company AT&T, drugmaker Merck & Co and Moby Dick Airways Ltd, a private plane company to which the Gingrich campaign itself owed $75,642 as of the end of February.

The center estimated its assets to be between $50,001 and $100,000 in the filing.

The think tank collected tens of millions of dollars in dues from healthcare companies and was part of Gingrich's collection of lucrative enterprises he founded after he stepped down as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bankruptcy filing comes as Gingrich's campaign itself is struggling for cash, having cut staff after his presidential bid lost its momentum in primary elections.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle first reported the news on Thursday. The law firm representing the Gingrich Group in the case declined comment beyond the filed court documents.

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