Although a Newt Gingrich-led political organization was supposed to stay out of federal elections in 1990, internal documents show the group was working to ensure his re-election in a tough battle that year, the Federal Election Commission says.

Memos and meeting transcripts of the organization, GOPAC, showed that officials of the conservative group concluded, "Newt must be re-elected," and that candidate-training seminars were arranged in Georgia, in part "to protect Congressman Newt Gingrich."The Georgia lawmaker, now the House speaker but then the second-ranking leader of the House Republican minority, was "probably the most single high priority we've got in dollars," one GOPAC document said.

The FEC on Wednesday released GOPAC documents, notes and tapes as part of its lawsuit in U.S. District Court, accusing the Republican organization of violating federal law.

The FEC contends that prior to 1991, before GOPAC registered as a federal committee, it was trying to influence federal elections and should have been forced to disclose its donors, receipts and expenditures.

Peter Derry, GOPAC's lawyer, said Wednesday the group was involved only in state and local elections prior to 1991 and did not provide Gingrich or any other federal candidate direct, election-related support.

"Our view is that GOPAC didn't support any federal candidates," Derry said. "We're willing to litigate that issue."

Gingrich was locked in such a close race in 1990 that he defeated Democrat David Worley by just 974 votes out of 156,000 cast.