Monday, December 26, 2011

Vander Plaats Under Fire for "Pay for Play" Endorsement Accusations

Remember how Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley both of The FAMiLY LEADER (not to mention Hurley's leadership position within the Iowa Family Policy Center) officially endorsed Rick Santorum for the GOP presidential nomination nearly one week ago?  It's already blown up in their collective face.

BVP has been accused of orchestrating a "pay for play" endorsement scheme, allegedly selling his coveted endorsement for as much as one million dollars:
...(S)ources familiar with talks between the conservative heavyweight and representatives from several of the Republican presidential campaigns went a step further, describing Vander Plaats’ tactics as corrupt. “Clearly the endorsement was for sale — without a doubt,” one source said.

It’s a charge that The Family Leader flatly denied. “The allegation by an unnamed source that Bob Vander Plaats asked any campaigns for money in exchange for his endorsement is absolutely false,” according to a statement issued by the organization on Thursday. The Family Leader said Vander Plaats was unavailable for an interview Thursday...

Though Santorum did not specify the dollar amount he and Vander Plaats discussed, multiple sources said he was soliciting as much as $1 million from Santorum and other candidates.

In an interview with the Des Moines Register this week, Vander Plaats said that it was his “ethical responsibility” to essentially put some money where his mouth is. “You can’t say, ‘We endorsed you. Now see you later,’” Vander Plaats told the Iowa newspaper. “That’s not going to do a lot in the long run.” But one long-time Iowa conservative activist told ABC News, “There is no way he could buy enough ad space in Iowa for a million dollars — couldn’t buy that much advertising in a week and a half in Iowa.”

ABC News has learned that Vander Plaats tried to solicit money for his endorsement during the last presidential cycle too. A former staffer for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential bid who is currently unaffiliated with a campaign said Vander Plaats came to them seeking money for his backing if he supported the former Massachusetts governor. “He wanted to be paid,” the former staffer said. “He was clearly looking for a paycheck. There was a conversation about him getting a title, but being a paid consultant was much more important.”
According to sources, BVP tried getting both Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry to drop out of the presidential campaign.

Progress Iowa has launched an online petition that calls on the Federal Elections Commission to investigate The FAMiLY LEADER for illegal campaign activities:
Federal Election Commission -

Following his campaign's endorsement from The Family Leader CEO Bob Vander Plaats, Rick Santorum revealed Vander Plaats had solicited the campaign to raise money for him to run ads on the Santorum campaign's behalf. Any coordination between a campaign and outside groups is a violation of federal law. ABC News wrote Iowa conservative leaders believe there was no doubt the endorsement was for sale and that Vander Plaats solicited $1 million from Santorum and other campaigns. We call of the FEC to investigate Bob Vander Plaats and The Family Leader for illegal coordination of campaign money.

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