Bad News For Naughty Newt

In a move that may lead to an embarrassing court fight for Newt Gingrich, divorce lawyers for his estranged wife have won permission to question a 33-year-old woman with whom the former House speaker has been romantically linked.

The 53-year-old former Georgia congressman, who espoused family values during his campaigns, has reportedly been seeing Callista Bisek, an aide to the House Agriculture Committee, for years. Both the New York Post and Daily News quoted sources Friday who said the pair have been seen together often in Washington.

Cobb County Superior Court Judge Dorothy Robinson signed an order Thursday that allows attorneys for Marianne Gingrich to take a videotaped deposition from Bisek in Arlington, Va., where she lives.

No date for the deposition has been set and Mrs. Gingrich's lawyer, John C. Mayoue, declined to say what questions he plans to ask. "I can tell you that she thought that they had a very sound marriage, right up until this unexpected demand for divorce," Mayoue said Friday. "And I can also tell you that Marianne is prepared to thoroughly investigate Mr. Gingrich's personal life as well as his business activities."

Gingrich separated from his wife May 10 and filed for divorce on July 29.

Marianne Gingrich "was absolutely stunned and had no idea that there was another woman," said Victoria Toensing of Washington, another of her attorneys.

Newt Gingrich's attorney, Randolph Evans, said he hadn't seen the judge's order and could not comment on the reports that Gingrich had been seeing Bisek before his separation from his wife. "I don't get into all of that because it just doesn't serve any useful purpose," he said.

Gingrich's personal spokesman, Mike Shields, declined comment.

Court papers filed by Mrs. Gingrich's attorneys also claim that, prior to the divorce filing, the former House speaker attempted to transfer "certain valuable assets" out of his wife's control.

Mrs. Gingrich is seeking equitable division of property, alimony, and attorney's fees, although Mayoue said it's too early to put a dollar figure on anything.

Mayoue said Mrs. Gingrich was directly involved in her husband's business endeavors, which have included public speaking and consulting since he left Congress. "Marianne has continued to act as Mr. Gingrich's partner in all their business and personal ventures right up until this really unexpected demand for divorce," he said.

It is the second failed marriage for Gingrich, who married his former high school geometry teacher, Jackie Battley, when he was 18. They had two daughters during their 19-year marriage.

Jackie Gingrich has said her then-husband discussed divorce terms with her while she was recuperating in the hospital from cancer surgery. Gingrich has said he does not recall it that way.

Gingrich married Marianne, a county planner and business consultant from Ohio, within months of the divorce from his frst wife.

In 1994, Gingrich was asked about reports that he'd had extramarital affairs while running for Congress on a family values platform in 1978. "In the 1970s, things happened, period. That's the most I'll ever say," he replied. "I start with an assumption that all human beings sin. So all I'll say is that I've led a human life."

Gingrich, architect of the so-called "Republican Revolution" in the House, served as speaker from 1995 until the end of last year, when he gave up his seat in Congress after the GOP's disappointing showing in the November election.