Last year, former Speaker Newt Gingrich offered his vocal support for the ultimately successful campaign to oust three of the nine Iowa Supreme Court justices who had unanimously ruled in favor of marriage equality. As Gingrich courts social conservatives while exploring a possible presidential bid, new disclosures from his camp indicate that he and his associates bankrolled more than one-third of the $850,000 campaign to remove the Iowa justices.
ThinkProgress previously reported on $200,000 that Gingrich funneled from an anonymous donor to the anti-marriage equality group Iowa for Freedom, which was also being funded by AFA Action, the political arm of the virulently anti-gay American Family Association. The Associated Press revealed yesterday that one of the cogs in Gingrich’s vast network of business enterprises and front groups, ReAL Action, provided $125,000 to AFA Action. The Des Moines Register reported this morning that ReAL Action also contributed $25,000 to yet another Iowa anti-LGBT group, the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.
AFA is not only of the nation’s most prominent anti-LGBT groups, it has been officially labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. As ThinkProgress has reported, the AFA is known for making incendiary comments about gays, including blaming gays for crop failure and various other biblical plagues, claiming that Hitler was gay, saying lesbians can’t be justices, equating gay sex with domestic terrorism, and equating gay sex to heroin, just to cite a few examples.
Gingrich’s tacit support for these radical views would not seem to be in question, as his spokesman went to great pains to explain that the grant to AFA Action was for “general support,” noting:
“We leave up to the groups receiving the money to determine how they would spend the money.
While those who fought to retain the Iowa justices question why Gingrich had previously kept his financial support for the anti-LGBT groups secret and is only now acknowledging it as his possible 2012 bid ramps up, Gingrich’s spokesman said that there was no connection between his support for the Iowa groups and his possible presidential ambitions. This assertion seems highly questionable considering the leader of last year’s anti-marriage equality campaign against the three justices, Bob Vander Plaats, is an Iowa political kingmaker who now heads the FAMiLY Leader, a radical anti-LGBT organization that is hosting an ongoing Presidential Lecture Series that ThinkProgress has been attending and reporting on. Gingrich himself is scheduled to appear before the group on July 11.
And while some have pointed out that Gingrich’s multiple patriotism-inspired adulterous affairs might present a problem for socially conservative GOP primary voters, Gingrich-funded Vander Plaats seems unconcerned. He told the Los Angeles Times that Gingrich “had won over pastors in [Iowa] with his ‘open and transparent’ approach” and that Christian conservatives “understand that we all fall short of the standards” they set for themselves.
It remains to be seen whether Gingrich’s funding of virulently anti-LGBT hate groups will pay political dividends outside the small group of overwhelmingly white, socially-conservative voters that determine the winner of the Iowa caucuses.