I wrote a story for MSNBC.com this week about Newt Gingrich’s daughter working as a janitor when she was 13, an age that the Department of Labor says is illegal to hold such a job.
The Republican presidential candidate had mentioned his daughter’s first job as part of his talking points on how poor kids in schools can take the jobs from adult janitors as a way to learn a better work ethic. As for child labor laws, he’s called them “stupid”.
I spoke to Gingrich’s daughter Jackie Gingrich Cushman about the janitorial job she held in the early 1980s at a local church, and she told me she was very proud of the gig. And, she said, she hoped she was working legally at the time.
“Cleaning bathrooms taught me a lot,” Cushman said, adding that she worked many menial jobs, including being a rollerblading waitress for the Sonic Drive-In chain in high school. Such experiences, she added, helped her value hard work and “appreciate and value the people that do the work as well.”
Before the story ran, I emailed Gingrich’s press team to find out if they knew Cushman’s job may have been illegal and his press secretary R.C. Hammond wrote: “Can they work as a clerk in the library?” I figured maybe he didn’t understand my question and emailed back: “I was specifically referring to Gingrich’s comment that his daughter worked a janitorial job at age 13.”
I didn’t get a reply back before we published the story late Wednesday night, but today I got another email from Hammond: (more…)