Who is Bob Vander Plaats & Why Does It Matter?
Earlier this year, we introduced you to the FAMiLY LEADER, the extreme anti-gay group in Iowa, and its leader, Bob Vander Plaats. Tomorrow, Vander Plaats is hosting a “Thanksgiving Family Forum” for presidential candidates. If history is any guide, this event promises to be a veritable cornucopia of attacks on gays and women’s health care and a celebration of fringe social views.
Here’s a rundown of that history, just to remind you who and what Republicans presidential candidates choose to associate themselves with — something that definitely matters.
Vander Plaats — The Lowlights
- A Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist called last week’s Iowa State Senate District 18 special election loss a “stinging rebuke” to Vander Plaats’ FAMiLY Leader
- Vander Plaats received national and local condemnation over his group’s “Marriage Vow” for 2012 candidates, which included language:
- suggesting that children were better off under slavery than they are under Obama (later removed after a national outcry)
- likening homosexuality to polygamy, adultery, or polyandry
- attacking gays as a public health risk
- saying homosexuality is a choice
- fomenting the non-existent “Sharia” threat to America
- banning pornography
- Top Iowa Republicans attacked Vander Plaats, saying his “credibility is waning to the point of no impact” and attacked the Marriage Vow as a “huge distraction”
- Vander Plaats said gays are a “public health risk” akin to smoking:
- Vander Plaats repeatedly suggested President Obama was born in Kenya and praised Donald Trump’s birther investigation:
- Vander Plaats erupted in laughter at a “faggot” joke, saying “that’s pretty good”:
- Vander Plaats’ group took millions in federal funds while decrying federal spending
- Vander Plaats’ political career has been marked by failure:
- 2002: ran for the GOP gubernatorial nomination and lost.
- 2006: ran for the GOP gubernational nomination again, dropped out during the primary, joined the GOP ticket as Jim Nussle’s running mate, and promptly lost again.
- 2010: ran for the GOP gubernational nomination again and lost, again.
This local TV news report from Des Moines last night outlines most of the recent controversies facing Vander Plaats and his organization — and why his influence is on the wane. Check it out:
A Pay-to-Play Deal With Newt Gingrich?
ThinkProgress’ Igor Volsky has the details on another controversy surrounding Vander Plaats and this week’s GOP frontrunner, Newt Gingrich:
Vander Plaats was one of the first social conservative leaders to accept Gingrich’s apologies as he sought to consolidate Evangelical support in the run up to announcing his 2012 candidacy. The president of Iowa’s FAMiLY Leader assured the Los Angeles Times in March that Gingrich’s outreach has “won over pastors in the state,” adding “we also understand that we all fall short of the standards.”
But Vander Plaats’ “understanding” may have been influenced by more than the former speaker’s “open and transparent” approach. Last year, Gingrich offered his vocal support for Vander Plaats’ successful campaign to oust three of the nine Iowa Supreme Court justices who had unanimously ruled in favor of marriage equality and his associates bankrolled more than one-third of the $850,000 campaign to remove the justices. Gingrich also attended the FAMiLY Leader’s presidential forum on July 11th of this year, where he was asked if he was ready tocommit to the group’s marriage pledge. Gingrich indicated that he was “gonna work with Bob and others to work through some things,” but has yet to publicly announce his support for the document.
Check out video of Vander Plaats defending Gingrich‘s infidelities this morning on MSNBC:
Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed
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