Bob Vander Plaats—the president of the Christian activist group The Family Leader—may have asked more than one Republican presidential candidate for $1 million dollars in exchange for his public endorsement.
Now that doesn’t sound very Christian.
According to ABC News, Vander Plaats personally endorsed anti-gay GOP candidate Rick Santorum as his dog last week in the Republican primary—an endorsement that might sway the state’s more conservative pro-family voters.
Less than 48 hours later, Santorum revealed to CNN that Vander Plaats told him, “he needed money to promote the endorsement and that that would be important to do that,” though Santorum added that Vander Plaats never directly asked him to go out and raise money for the endorsement.
Soon after, multiple sources claimed Vander Plaats had also asked other GOP candidates for $1 million in exchange for his endorsement—an amount that one long-time Iowa conservative says wouldn’t buy a lot of advertising in the state at all.
Then, a former Mitt Romney campaign staffer said that Vander Plaats also offered Romney his support in exchange for money back in 2008.
See the pattern emerging?
All this comes amid the recent revelation that Vander Plaats had asked candidates Santorum, Bachmann and Perry to all drop out of the presidential race.
Vander Plaats may fancy himself a kingmaker in the upcoming Iowa election: After all, this is the guy who helped lead a successful campaign to unseat three pro-marriage judges from the Iowa Supreme Court. To help him, Newt Gingrich made a gracious $350,000 donation to the cause.
Zack Ford at Think Progress believes Vander Plaats may have asked Republican candidates to step aside so he could align the party behind Gingrich:
Santorum, Bachmann, and Perry have the social conservative credentials Vander Plaats would want to endorse without the baggage of Gingrich’s infidelities, but if they had dropped out, he could have endorsed Gingrich without it looking like blatant quid pro quo.
But since the candidates refused to drop out, Vander Plaats apparently chose to hit up them all up for cash, even though he ultimately endorsed Santorum.
Of course, Plaats’ organization has released a statement saying that he’s totally innocent: “The allegation by an unnamed source that Bob Vander Plaats asked any campaigns for money in exchange for his endorsement is absolutely false.”
Plaats is no stranger to making an ass of himself—he once called being gay a public health risk, unabashedly laughs at faggot jokes and asked Republican presidential candidates to sign his anti-gay pledge card—but he’ll likely find himself under intense media scrutiny now.
Oh and look, there’s already an online petition asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Vander Plaats’ organization for potential illegal campaign coordination.Our little judge-slayer is becoming quite the big fry, isn’t he?
Enjoy the spotlight, Bobby.
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