Inside Politics

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Even so, Mr. Gingrich’s Democratic and Republican opponents alike have called the penalty a “fine” and see it as a way to damage his political prospects.

Rival Mitt Romney’s allies have cited the penalty in ads against Mr. Gingrich. “Newt has a ton of baggage,” the pro-Romney Restore Our Future super PAC said in one ad that ran ahead of Mr. Gingrich’s loss in Florida. “He was fined $300,000 for ethics violations.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked the Justice Department for the records last month, but the department denied the request unless Mr. Gingrich agreed to open the files.

NEW YORK

FCC adopts rules against ‘robocalls’

NEW YORK — The federal government is cracking down on “robocalls,” those automated phone calls with the tendency to interrupt Sunday dinners and otherwise annoy consumers.

The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday that it will now require telemarketers to obtain written consent from people before placing a robocall. Written does not mean handwritten, though [-] electronic forms are OK.

The new rules also eliminate a loophole that allowed telemarketers to place robocalls if they had an “established business relationship” with the consumer. Now, they will have to obtain consent even if they had previously done business with the person they want to call.

Telemarketers will also have to provide an automated way for people to revoke their consent to the robocall by pressing a few keys on their phone during the call. If this happens, the new rules require telemarketer to add the person to the company’s do-not-call list.

The FCC said it is not changing rules that apply to informational robocalls, such as airline-flight updates, school notifications or warnings about suspicious bank-account activity.

NORTH DAKOTA

Santorum talks of oil, energy to officials

TIOGA — Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has been spending a lot of time in oil country lately, prospecting for GOP votes — and money.

He tromped through an oil field in the frigid northwest corner of booming North Dakota on Wednesday to assure industry officials he had their backs.

In the past week, Mr. Santorum also spoke of peeling back regulations in Oklahoma and Texas. In all three fuel-rich states, he spoke industry language meant to forge common bond with his hosts.

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