When Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley announced their personal endorsement of Rick Santorum I didn’t anticipate the controversy to follow.  I didn’t think much of the board declining an endorsement, but allowing Vander Plaats and Hurley to go ahead an endorse.  I can understand diverging opinions, as it is one reason we at Caffeinated Thoughts didn’t do a blanket endorsement as well.  I endorsed Santorum as did Brian Myers, but we have other opinions among our contributors, as well as, some who are simply undecided.

Their clarifying statement actually raises some questions for me.

The FAMiLY LEADER board was unanimous in their personal support for Rick Santorum but opted not to endorse as an organization out of respect for many constituents that support candidates other than Rick Santorum.  The board wanted to avoid offending any constituents who may be bothered by the possibility that their support to The FAMiLY LEADER may be used to promote a candidate the constituents themselves were not backing.  However, the board is thankful they can allow a voice of leadership by permitting Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley to personally endorse Senator Santorum.

They wanted to be a “standard bearer rather than be a “kingmaker.”  Ok, it sure didn’t seem that way based on the presidential lecture series, “the marriage vow,” private meetings, and then The Thanksgiving Forum.  Certainly they could have done all of this without having to endorse as a help to their constituents, but they dangled the endorsement out there.

Then they address the allegation about asking for money – they flatly deny that, and deny that Vander Plaats asked Congresswoman Bachmann to drop out as completely false.  Ok, I’ll buy that they didn’t do that especially since the money charge is being made by our friends, “anonymous sources.”  I don’t trust “anonymous sources.”  But to say what was done with Congresswoman Bachmann was completely false?  Well….

“It would make it a lot easier if a couple of them would team up,” Vander Plaats said on CNN. “I talked to a few candidates and I said, ‘I’m not saying what you should do, I’m not telling you to drop out or anything of that nature, but if you like another candidate, maybe you and the other candidate should get together and say, ‘Hey, can we make something work where it’s a team deal.’ “

What were the campaigns supposed to think, and what in the world made him think he had that type of influence?

Then with the topic of money… ABC News reports:

But even Santorum acknowledged in an interview with CNN that money was among the topics he and Vander Plaats discussed last weekend ahead of Tuesday’s endorsement press conference.

“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.”…

…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.”

Ok, forget the anonymous sources, now we have a Presidential candidate saying money was discussed to promote the endorsement.  Vander Plaats also said this that it was his “ethical responsibility.”  Forget whisper campaign controversy.  If Vander Plaats wanted to put his money where his mouth is then shouldn’t it be his money?  I don’t believe that money was an expectation for an endorsement, but this has to be a first for me hearing that an endorser wanted to spend money to promote his endorsement.  Is this endorsement about Santorum or him?  I mean one can make their endorsement, send out a press release even (or in my case write a blog post), but then after that shouldn’t it be left to the candidate to take if further if they want?

It would seem that what would have been a positive gain for Santorum has now been tainted, and The FAMiLY Leader’s credibility is being questioned.  One of the primary goals with an endorsement is that it doesn’t bring harm to your candidate or have people calling for an investigation.

This is simply a mess, and it is one that could have been easily avoided. Never mix the discussion of money (regardless of the why) with an endorsement, period.  Bob should know that we who profess Christ should avoid the very appearance of impropriety.  There may have been no wrong done, but it sure looks bad.

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