Did Santorum Pay for Iowa Evangelical Endorsement?

Via ABC News:  Iowa Conservative Leader Mired in Controversy After Rick Santorum Endorsement

An Iowa Christian conservative leader who bestowed his highly sought-after endorsement on presidential candidate Rick Santorum this week is now at the center of a controversy over whether he asked for cash in exchange for his public support.

Less than 48-hours after receiving the backing of Bob Vander Plaats, the head of the prominent evangelical group The Family Leader, Santorum disclosed that the prominent Iowan told him he needed money to make the most out of the endorsement.

And sources 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.

[…]

“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.”

My tongue-in-cheek initial response:  how else would Santorum get a major endorsement outside of paying for it?  Although, that he would get the endorsement of a conservative evangelical makes sense.

However, the whole thing sounds a bit suspicious:

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.”

And, apparently, not a new tactic:

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.”

All of this, of course, leads to the inevitable:  click.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Say what, now? Pay for endorsements?

    Dear Candidates: The Reynolds Family Education, Booze, Cigars and Two Weeks In Paris Coalition is prepared to offer its coveted endorsement.

  2. @michael reynolds:

    Most of us here would probably be more successful in the “paying me not to endorse you” market. ;>

  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    Santorum disclosed it after receiving the endorsement. Either it was going to come out anyway and Santorum is trying to get ahead of it for damage control…or he’s actually an honorable guy (not moral or ethical, just honorable).

    If it’s the latter, good for him.

  4. Davebo says:

    Dear Candidates: The Reynolds Family Education, Booze, Cigars and Two Weeks In Paris Coalition is prepared to offer its coveted endorsement.

    I’d endorse anyone who was willing to cover a first class ticket on the Thalys to get me out of Paris!

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Probably the greatest irony here is that a large percentage of the self-proclaimed “values voters” blocs won’t be able even to grasp the irony.

  6. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    I’m shocked, shocked I tell you to discover that there’s corruption going on here.

    (This space available for rent.)