Bob Vander Plaats Denies Endorsement-Selling Allegations
3:10 PM, Dec 23, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
ABC News reported this morning that, according to "multiple" anonymous sources, prominent Iowa social conservative Bob Vander Plaats "was soliciting as much as $1 million from Santorum and other [Republican presidential] candidates" while he was considering endorsing one of them. In a phone interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD this afternoon, Vander Plaats said he "absolutely" denied the allegations.
“The Family Leader is not benefiting as an organization from this, one iota or red cent, and Bob Vander Plaats or Chuck Hurley is not benefiting this one red cent,” said Vander Plaats, the 2008 chairman of Mike Huckabee's campaign and head of a conservative group called the Family Leader. “If we were really going ‘Boy, who’s got the most money? We probably wouldn’t go for Rick Santorum. We believe he’s the best candidate.”
Vander Plaats, who endorsed Rick Santorum on Tuesday, said that he did let Santorum know that he would be devoting resources to promote the endorsement, but he said the conversation was perfectly legal and ethical.
"What he talked about was he needed money to promote the endorsement and that that would be important to do that,” Santorum told CNN. “There was never a direct ask for me to go out and raise money for it.”
“I think where [Santorum] and I had a conversation, he probably asked that question, 'If we were to endorse what would it look like?" said Vander Plaats. "And, as I responded to you, we’d honor that endorsement by doing everything we could and to make it have as much impact as possible."
“I just said to him, when we were communicating, you know, if I or the organization make the endorsement of Rick Santorum or any other candidate, for that matter, I’ll do everything I can to make the endorsement stick," said Vander Plaats. "And that means mobilizing the network, that means identifying resources, that means whatever. But that’s not from the campaign perspective. That’s from my perspective. We’re going to do our best effort.”
Vander Plaats said that he did not have a conversation about financial resources with Bachmann, Perry, or Gingrich camps:
Vander Plaats said he did not make a fundraising request to any candidate, including Santorum.
The ABC report also includes allegations from a former Mitt Romney staffer that Vander Plaats sought financial resources for his endorsement in 2008, and Vander Plaats denied these allegations as well. “Absolutely not. That’s a great anonymous source," he said. "I can be very clear about that. It’s the Romney campaign that contacted me. And obviously I didn’t make that endorsement. I went to Mike Huckabee, not Mitt Romney.”