Bob Vander Platts doesn't come cheap. In 2010, Newt Gingrich gave Vander Plaats' campaign to unseat Iowa judges $350,000. The Family Leader's leader also demanded a cushy paid position on Mitt Romney's staff back in 2008 in exchange for an endorsement (he didn't get it, and backed Huckabee instead).
Now word is out that Vander Plaats has received $1 million to endorse Rick Santorum and others, after which he told Michele Bachmann to bow out of the race.
Earlier this week, Santorum admitted that Vander Plaats approached the campaign with an indirect solicitation of money to help promote his support, but now other sources familiar with the talks between Vander Plaats and GOP candidates are characterizing the tactics as "corrupt."
Of course, "pay for play" is not new in the political Christian-Right arena: it was disclosed last week that Newt Gingrich's campaign had donated $125,000 to American Family Association Action (a PAC), after which he resoundingly received an endorsement from the American Family Association itself. And it was rumored back in 2010, that Mike Huckabee sold an endorsement in the Florida gubernatorial campaign for the princely sum of $250,000.
Ever since the Christian Right re-invented itself as a voting block, its power has been unmistakable: Tony Perkins' Values Voters Summit has now been a lightning rod for Right Wing candidates courting the "social conservative" group (est. up to 25 million - or almost half of Republican votes in a Presidential election). And with pulpits jeopardizing their tax-free status in daring to endorse candidates, their power is flaunted with a righteous arrogance that almost exceeds comprehension. Indeed, it is quite amazing that the same group cries "persecution" whenever a law is passed endangering that power. Their opposition to hate crimes bills, for example only demonstrates just how much they value the control they have over their congregations. Witness the outright lies "historian" David Barton promotes in his polemic about evil "homosexual activists" in the video below.
And Vander Plaats' pronouncements about gays, Muslims and "activist judges" have sparked controversey - the kind that Vander Plaats' shrugs off as "persecution."*
So power in the Christian Right corrupts people into telling lies for the sake of control. But in the case of Vander Plaats, we now see financial gain afoot, with candidates and their campaigns willing to pay the price of endorsements and support.
With all the "pay to play" shenanigans going on, it begs the question: where are the campaign managers in all of this? Sources referring to the $1 million in contributions to the Family Leader imply that Santorum was one of several candidates who contributed for endorsements. In a forthcoming article, we'll look at the role these pivotal figures have as drivers of the clown car we now call the GOP Presidential campaign. And as it turns out, Mike Biundo, Santorum's campaign manager, may look to be as inept as his candidate: both Vander Plaats and Santorum said that Santorum did not know about the endorsement until well after the announcement by Vander Plaats, even though Biundo was present during the announcement .**
There is no word yet on how John Dickerson, Michele Bachmann's campaign manager reacted to the story that Vander Plaats suggested that she "merge" with another faith-based candidate but it's clear that the "merge" story came after Bachmann shot out that she was asked to "quit" the race by Vander Plaats. Dickerson must have a helluva time reining in his mistress, especially since he has enough on his hands trying to formulate enough effective ads in Iowa to propel Bachmann from fourth place to the position her straw poll win put her in.
From where we sit, John Allbaugh (Perry), Michael Krull (Gingrich) and the aforementioned Biundo probably have more to say about donations to Vander Plaats.
Whither will they fly?
* From Think Progress :
The FAMiLY Leader has its own long history of anti-gay and anti-Muslim rhetoric. An early version of the group's fidelity pledge suggested that children were better off under slavery than they are under Obama, and the document likens homosexuality to polygamy, adultery, or polyandry, attacks gays as a public health risk, and foments the non-existent "Sharia" threat to America. Vander Plaats himself led a successful campaign to oust three state Supreme Court justicies who overturned Iowa's anti-gay marriage law and played in instrumental part and leading Mike Huckabee to victory in Iowa in 2008.