Gingrich rescinds award offered to topless bar

Newt Gingrich is no gentleman, said a Dallas topless club owner.

This came after the former Georgia Congressman took back an award he offered to a strip club last month.

"I thought it wasn't completely ridiculous that he might recognize my business," Dawn Rizos, owner of The Lodge, said Thursday night.

Rizos' business dubs itself "the country's premier gentlemen's club," and she was tapped by Gingrich's think tank, American Solutions, as one of its 2009 Entrepreneurs of the Year representing Texas.

"This tremendous honor is a testament to your success in building your business and recognition of the risks you take to create jobs and stimulate the economy," the initial invitation, dated Sept. 2, said.

Rizos even made a $5,000 contribution to join Gingrich's Business Defense and Advisory Council after making arrangements to attend the Oct. 7 banquet at Washington, D.C.'s exclusive Capitol Hill Club.

"I look forward to meeting you and hearing more about your business," Gingrich said in a letter penned Sept. 16 to thank her for the donation.

But on Tuesday, someone from Gingrich's organization called her to rescind the invitation.

"My feelings are so hurt that people would be shocked that he would think about giving us an award," Rizos said.

Gingrich, who is currently working on a documentary about Pope John Paul II, could not be reached Thursday night for comment. Gingrich's spokesman, Rick Tyler, also couldn't be reached by phone Thursday night.

"I understand that he is a very conservative man, but I think our business is very conservatively run, too," Rizos said.

She pointed out her attempts to "make the business as positive as we can" by donating more than $160,000 to charities in the last few years, and offering college scholarships and money management seminars for its 150 employees and 517 contract dancers.

And the 25,000 square-foot building in northwestern Dallas has pumped more than $2 million into the city's and state's tax coffers this year, she said.

This isn't American Solution's first faux pas with the adult entertainment industry.

Just weeks  ago, the organization reversed an invitation to the same banquet, then extended to a Van Nuys, Calif., adult film production and distribution company called Pink Visual.

Rizos said she couldn't imagine Gingrich making the same mistake twice ... especially since she has been a responsible corporate citizen since opening in Dallas in 1996.

"After that embarrassment with the woman with the pornography company, I thought for sure when we RSVP’d and made reservations they would Google my name or DCG, Inc.," she said.

A Web search links DCG Inc., the registered name for Rizos' business, to The Lodge. The home page of the company's Web site calls itself "the #1 Gentlemen's Club in America, featuring captivating entertainers, fine food and drink in an elegant, intimate setting you have to see to believe."

Rizos' company apparently was confused with a business of the same name in Virginia, The Lodge spokesman Michael Precker said, recalling the phone call from an awards ceremony owner.

"He added that Ms. Rizos’ success was admirable, and that perhaps she would be welcome at a future American Solutions event," Precker said.

Still, Precker lamented, "They obviously, for whatever reason, wanted to back away from us as best as they could."

Gingrich, a newly-converted Catholic a long-time family values champion, was once the ringleader of efforts to impeach former President Bill Clinton for lying under oath about infidelity.

But he too had to admit an extramarital affair.

Rizos said she looked forward to talking one-on-one with the former U.S. Speaker of the House.

"I love his ideas about promoting small businesses, the government staying out of personal and private lives, personal responsibility, and stopping all these frivolous law suits," she said.

Precker said American Solutions has promised to refund the $5,000 contribution, as well as the price of two $500 non-refundable plane tickets from Dallas to Washington for the event.

"I'm going to take them at their word," he said.

But Rizos still thinks The Lodge deserves the award.

"Even if it was a mistake, he should’ve been a gentleman and given it to us anyway," she said.