Bob Vander Plaats, a prominent evangelical leader in Iowa, recently confirmed that his organization, the Family Leader Foundation, received $95,000 from sources linked to Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida before Vander Plaats endorsed him for the presidential election.
This financial interaction, as reported by Reuters and discussed on Fox News by Bret Baier, raises questions about the relationship between political endorsements and financial contributions.
DeSantis campaign funds Family Leader Foundation event
According to Reuters, the $95,000 received by the Family Leader Foundation came from “the DeSantis campaign, a super PAC linked to him and a nonprofit group.”
These funds were used for three pages of advertisements in a booklet and tickets to a summit attended by 2,000 Christian conservatives. Vander Plaats, who heads the Foundation, acknowledged the transaction, stating, “Everything we do is above board.”
Plaats denies endorsement for sale amid DeSantis funding scrutiny
During a Fox News interview, Vander Plaats clarified, “My endorsement has never been and never will be for sale. My only interest is in bold, courageous, moral leadership for this country.”
Despite this assertion, the timing of the endorsement, following the flow of money, has drawn scrutiny. Vander Plaats endorsed DeSantis, describing him as capable of serving two terms and surrounding himself with qualified individuals.
He emphasized the need for a president who “is going to do what they say they’re going to do.”
Plaats’ endorsement boosts DeSantis, highlights past controversies
The endorsement is significant for DeSantis, as Vander Plaats has a history of supporting candidates who won the Iowa caucus, including Mike Huckabee in 2008, Rick Santorum, and Ted Cruz.
However, Vander Plaats has faced controversy; about a decade ago, he was scrutinized for his endorsement of Santorum in the 2012 Iowa caucuses.
FEC clears Vander Plaats’ group in $1M endorsement allegation
A complaint filed by Fred Karger alleged that Vander Plaats’ organization received $1 million from the National Organization for Marriage and the Santorum campaign for the endorsement.
However, the Federal Election Commission dismissed the complaint.
DeSantis celebrates Vander Plaats’ endorsement, citing influence in Iowa
Despite these controversies, DeSantis has celebrated Vander Plaats’ endorsement, highlighting the evangelical leader’s influence in Iowa.
DeSantis expressed his gratitude on social media, saying, “His support tells Iowans they can trust me to fight and win for them.”
Trump claims Plaats’ endorsement is for sale on Truth Social
However, this endorsement has not been without criticism. Some have questioned Vander Plaats’ motivations, and others have pointed to his previous endorsement record.
Former President Donald Trump also weighed in, suggesting on Truth Social that the endorsement was bought.
Trump campaign slams Vander Plaats’ endorsement in statement
The Trump campaign released a statement titled “Bob Sander Plaat Endorses A Candidate Who Will Never Be President,” criticizing the financial aspect of the endorsement.
The report contrasts this with Trump’s support, claiming that “over 150 faith leaders are organizing their congregations for President Trump and not a single one demanded nearly $100k like Bob Sander Platt$ did from Ron DeSantis.”
Vander Plaats’ endorsement key as DeSantis slips in early state polls
This endorsement is critical for DeSantis, who is slipping in early state polls. The governor is tied for second place in Iowa with Nikki Haley while trailing in South Carolina and New Hampshire.
The endorsement from Vander Plaats, with its accompanying financial implications, thus adds another layer to the complex dynamics of the presidential campaign.