Of course there was out-of-state money flowing into groups like Iowa for Freedom, which, along with David Vander Plaats, led the campaign to vote out three of Iowa’s seven State Supreme Court justices who voted unanimously to legalize same-sex marriage there. And from whose bank account? Oh, people like Newt Gingrich, who threw $200,000 at the cause by bundling cash from his powerful and well-monied network, relays the Los Angeles Times in what looks to be the first report of his involvement. But don’t think for a second that Gingrich’s money trafficking was simply a way for him to support a cause he likes. No, he’s in the middle of drumming up a massive support group of religious conservative, who will serve as his base now that he’s on track to seek the Republican presidential nomination. UPDATE: Looks like there’s another $150k from Newt. See below.
Two years ago, he created a nonprofit organization aimed at religious conservatives, filling the board with evangelical leaders. One board member, Vivian Berryhill, president and founder of the National Coalition of Pastors’ Spouses, said Gingrich helped raise money and other resources to advance the group’s projects on diabetes and teen sexual abstinence.
Gingrich’s moves are meant to allay concerns among influential religious conservatives that his personal history is at odds with their views. In 2007, he admitted during a radio interview with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson that he had been having an extramarital affair with his present wife as he was excoriating President Clinton for lying to a grand jury about his dalliance with a White House intern. As Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, put it, Gingrich has “one ex-spouse too many for most evangelicals.”
But as the former speaker moves closer to a potential White House bid, with more details expected Thursday, his wooing of the evangelical community appears to be paying off. “I think he’s just excellent,” said Pastor Brad Sherman, who leads Solid Rock Christian Church in Coralville, Iowa. “Everybody brings up his past, but he’s very open about that, and God is forgiving,” said Sherman, who had lunch with Gingrich last fall.
This isn’t just some haphazard play to affirm his views on same-sex marriage. It’s a way to tell what’s left of anti-gay conservative America that he’s playing for their team, despite being a cheating hypocrite.
UPDATE: Another $150k is being attributed to Gingrich. Raised by the group Restoring American Leadership (ReAL), $125k was funneled to the American Family Association’s political arm Action, while $25k went to the Iowa Christian Alliance.
[An earlier version of this post implied Gingrich donated the money himself. Rather, he “bundled” it.]