An Iowa group is calling on the Federal
Election Commission (FEC) to investigate Bob Vander Plaats'
endorsement of Rick Santorum.
Progress Iowa on Friday began
online petition calling on the FEC to look into potentially
illegal campaign coordination by The Family Leader CEO.
Santorum won Vander Plaats' personal
endorsement on Tuesday.
Vander Plaats is best known for leading
last year's successful campaign to oust three of the seven Iowa
Supreme Court judges who overturned the state's ban on gay marriage
Santorum, along with Minnesota Rep.
Michele Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry, signed the group's
controversial 14-point anti-gay marriage pledge, which asks each
presidential candidate to “vigorously” oppose marriage equality,
be faithful to his or her own spouse, vow to protect women and
children from pornography and reject Sharia law because it is a “form
of totalitarian control.”
On Wednesday, Santorum told CNN that
Vander Plaats told him that “he needed money to promote” an
eventual endorsement, but didn't make “a direct ask.”
“What he talked about was he needed
money to promote the endorsement and that that would be important to
do that,” Santorum said of a conversation which took place earlier
this fall. “There was never a direct ask for me to go out and
raise money for it.”
Santorum said during a town hall, also
reported by CNN, that Vander Plaats suggested that he drop out of the
race before he endorsed his campaign.
Robocalls promoting Vander Plaats'
endorsement of Santorum for president began in Iowa on Thursday. The
calls say they were paid for by a super PAC called Leaders for
Families, the Des Moines Register reported.
“Any coordination between a campaign
and an outside group on campaign expenditures such as advertising is
illegal,” said Progress Iowa in a statement. “Progress Iowa's
petition calls on the FEC to investigate the Family Leader and Bob
Vander Plaats for any potential illegal coordination between the
group and the Santorum campaign.”
“In light of news that Vander Plaats'
PAC is launching robocalls in Iowa on behalf of Santorum after he
solicited fundraising help, the FEC must look into any coordination
between the Family Leader and the campaign.”
Speaking to the Des
Moines Register, Vander Plaats said there was “absolutely
no 'quid pro quo'” for the endorsement and no “coordination”
with the campaign.
He said promoting his endorsement was
an “ethical responsibility.”
“You can't say, 'We endorse you. Now
see you later,'” Vander Plaats told the paper. “That's not going
to do a lot in the long run.”
News quoted multiple sources as saying that Vander Plaats was
soliciting as much as $1 million for his endorsement.
Santorum has moved up in some recent
polls and his campaign released a new pop-up ad in Iowa this week
which quotes 2008 Vander Plaats endorsee Mike Huckabee as saying,
“Loves Rick Santorum's convictions.” (The video is embedded in
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