I want to bring to your attention possible violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act by former United States Senator Rick Santorum, the National Organization for Marriage and Mr. Bob Vander Plaats.
I respectfully ask the Federal Election Commission to conduct a full investigation into the likelihood that the National Organization for Marriage, its officers and major supporters paid the Family Leader and its president Mr. Bob Vander Plaats up to $1 million to secure its endorsement of then presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Mr. Vander Plaats’ endorsement of Mr. Santorum occurred just two weeks before the Iowa Caucus and enabled Mr. Santorum to beat former Governor Mitt Romney in the first contest of the 2012 Presidential Campaign.
Additionally, it appears that there was coordination between the Santorum for President Campaign, Mr. Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage and Mr. Bob Vander Plaats, President of the Family Leader for the purpose of funding the Vander Plaats created Super PAC, Families for Leaders. The Families for Leaders Super PAC was established to support Mr. Santorum in Iowa.
Complainant and Respondents
Complainant:Fred Karger 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1290
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Respondents:Senator Rick Santorum P.O. Box 37 Verona, PA 15147 National Organization for Marriage, Inc. Mr. Brian Brown, President 2029 K Street, NW Suite 300 Washington, DC 20006 Mr. Bob Vander Plaats President and CEO The Family Leader P.O. Box 42245 Urbandale, IA 5032
Pay for Play: National Organization for Marriage (NOM),
Rick Santorum and Bob Vander Plaats
In December 2011, former United States Senator Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign was on life-support. His polling numbers were in the low single digits and he had very little campaign cash. Then, on December 20, 2011, Rick Santorum received the coveted endorsements of well-known Iowa Religious Right leader Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader and his sidekick Chuck Hurley, president of Mr. Vander Plaats’ Iowa Family Policy Center.
It was widely reported in the media that Mr. Vander Plaats had solicited up to $1 million from three different presidential campaigns before making his final endorsement of Mr. Santorum. In the two weeks immediately following the Santorum endorsement, Mr. Vander Plaats and Mr. Hurley, both of whom had little experience with federal campaigns or federal PACs, accomplished herculean tasks.
Mr. Vander Plaats started a federal Super PAC, Families for Leaders PAC, created a massive telephone robocalling campaign to Republican voters, produced slick TV and radio commercials, raised at least $150,000 and spent far more than that leading up to Iowa’s January 3, 2012 Republican Presidential Caucus. All this was done on behalf of Mr. Santorum’s campaign for President following the endorsement.
Santorum’s Campaign Was Broke
The Santorum for President Campaign had raised and spent approximately $2 million in the two years leading up to the January 3, 2012 Iowa Caucus and had very little money left (see attachment, FEC Financial Summary – 2011 Year-end). The reported $1 million to secure the endorsement of Mr. Vander Plaats had to come from somewhere. It likely came from a third party.
There is only one logical suspect; the Washington, DC based National Organization for Marriage. NOM’s founder and chairman Maggie Gallagher and president Brian Brown had worked very closely with Mr. Santorum and Mr. Vander Plaats for several years and had exceptionally close political and financial ties to both men. Our complaint will detail the unholy alliance of NOM, Mr. Santorum and Mr. Vander Plaats that we believe resulted in to the National Organization for Marriage, its leadership and its major donors contributing up to $1 million that Mr. Vander Plaats sought for his presidential endorsement.
Vander Plaats Endorses Rick Santorum for President
Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley endorsed Mr. Santorum on December 20, 2011. NOM likely helped pay and raise the $1 million for Mr. Vander Plaats’ and Mr. Hurley’s endorsements and also helped create the Santorum Super PAC, Families for Leaders. Together NOM and the Family for Leaders PAC greatly helped propel Mr. Santorum into a narrow victory against frontrunner Mitt Romney in the Iowa Caucus on January 3, 2012.
The Families for Leaders PAC has NOM’s fingerprints all over it. It was set up by The Bopp Law Firm (James Bopp has been NOM’s principal attorney since 2007). Frank Schubert, NOM’s Political Director, ran the PAC’s Iowa campaign and created and placed its radio and television commercials. NOM also appears likely to have helped raise the PAC’s money through its biggest donors such as billionaire John Templeton, Jr. and San Diego mega-donor Terry Caster.
Mr. Vander Plaats’ “independent” campaign on behalf of Mr. Santorum succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. Just one week after his endorsement, Mr. Santorum’s official Super PAC, Red White and Blue raised $400,000. This is more than it had raised in its previous two months of existence. The newer Families for Leaders Super PAC set up by Mr. Vander Plaats raised another $150,000 to help Mr. Santorum. Together, this $550,000 raised in one week is 60% more than the Santorum for President Campaign had raised in 8 months. The Vander Plaats and Hurley endorsements, all the media attention that it received, the ensuing cash and advertisements propelled Mr. Santorum to his upset victory in Iowa. Mr. Santorum’s Iowa win then turned the entire 2012 Republican Presidential Primary upside down.
NOM’s $80,000 Down Payment to
Vander Plaats in 2011
We have attached two Schedule 1 pages from NOM’s 2011 IRS form 990 for both the National Organization for Marriage, Inc. (a 501(c)4 corporation) and the National Organization for Marriage Educational Fund (a 501(c)3 corporation). The filings detail $80,000 worth of NOM contributions in 2011 to Mr. Vander Plaats’ two organizations The Family Leader and the Iowa Family Policy Council (both at 1100 Hickory Blvd., Pleasant Hill, IA). NOM’s 990’s for 2012 are not available yet, so it is impossible to determine exactly how much more money NOM may have given to Mr. Vander Plaats last year. It is likely that the $80,000 paid directly to Mr. Vander Plaats’ organizations in 2011 could have easily constituted NOM’s down payment toward securing his $1 million endorsement of Rick Santorum for President.
Request for Investigation
I hereby ask the Federal Election Commission to investigate the potential $1 million “Pay for Play” by the National Organization for Marriage to Mr. Bob Vander Plaats to secure his and Mr. Hurley’s endorsements of Rick Santorum for President. Additionally, we ask that the FEC to investigate the federal Super PAC Mr. Vander Plaats created; The Families PAC, its fundraising, expenditures and possible coordination with the Santorum for President Campaign.
- Whether the Santorum for President Campaign was coordinating with the Bob Vander Plaats and the National Organization for Marriage established Super PAC, Families for Leaders run by NOM’s Political Director Frank Schubert?
- Whether the National Organization for Marriage is in violation for not disclosing its donations of up to $1 million to Mr. Vander Plaats and The Family Leader?
- Whether the National Organization for Marriage and Mr. Vander Plaats are in violation for using campaign funds for personal benefit?
- Whether the National Organization for Marriage is in violation for not reporting independent expenditures made to support the Rick Santorum for President, Inc.?
- Whether the National Organization for Marriage which has a long history of refusing to disclose its donors’ names has placed Mr. Vander Plaats and Mr. Santorum in violation of using funds from unknown sources.
- Whether the Family Leader and the Santorum for President Campaign are in violation for not reporting its campaign’s purchase and or use of The Family Leader’s list of voters from the 2010 Iowa Judicial Retention Election to the Santorum for President Campaign?
- Was there coordination between the Santorum for President Campaign and the National Organization for Marriage, the Red White and Blue PAC and The Families PAC with two of NOM’s largest donors John Templeton, Jr. and Terry Caster? On December 23, 2011 John Templeton, Jr. (who had contributed at least $550,000 previously to NOM) gave $200,000 to the Red, White and Blue PAC that supported Rick Santorum for President. On January 6, 2012: Terry Caster (who along with his family had previously contributed at least $290,000 to NOM) gave $150,000 to Leaders for Families PAC
NOM Political Director Frank Schubert: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/343896/why-gay-marriage-and-conservatism-are-incompatible-frank-schubert
Schubert runs Schubert Flint Public Affairs: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases-test/frank-schubert-to-depart-from-schubert-flint-public-affairs-145960555.html
Mr. Vander Plaats’ Endorsement
for Sale to the Highest Bidder
“Clearly the endorsement was for sale…without a doubt.” This quote comes from ABC News just three days after Bob Vander Plaats endorsed Rick Santorum for President. The quote came from a “source familiar with talks between the conservative heavyweight and representatives from several of the Republican presidential campaigns.” This source “described “Vander Plaats’ tactics as corrupt.” Multiple Sources have quoted Mr. Vander Plaats’ asking price for his endorsement as going for $1 million. Mr. Vander Plaats knows his sway with evangelicals in Iowa. CNN has described “Vander Plaats’ personal nod is among the most coveted among candidates seeking support from those conservatives – a crucial voting bloc in the state’s January 3rd caucuses.” http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/22/santorum-vander-plaats-said-he-needed-money-to-promote-the-endorsement/
Mr. Vander Plaats has never denied that money was part of the discussions with the Republican candidates for President, but has insisted that the $1 million would be used to advertise the endorsement. ABC news quoted a conservative Iowa political activist to show how ludicrous this claim is: “There is no way he could buy enough ad space in Iowa for a million dollars — couldn’t buy that much advertising in a week and a half in Iowa.” http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/iowa-conservative-leader-mired-in-controversy-after-rick-santorum-endorsement/
Mr. Santorum appears to have had many discussions with Mr. Vander Plaats right up until three days before the endorsement. “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.” http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/22/santorum-vander-plaats-said-he-needed-money-to-promote-the-endorsement/
Along with endorsing Mr. Santorum, Mr. Vander Plaats spoke with presidential candidates Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Governor Rick Perry to convince them to drop out of the race the weekend before he endorsed Mr. Santorum. “Vander Plaats called Bachmann on Saturday (December 17) to ask her to consider merging her campaign with another candidate’s.” Bachmann said she was asked to merge, which means “somebody has to drop out,” she told WHO-AM on Thursday. “Why can’t the top three or so pro-family candidates come together and figure out who has the talents for president, who has the talents for other roles?” said Family Leader activist Chuck Hurley, who endorsed Rick Santorum Tuesday. “And those people could quickly … vault into first place and win the caucuses and win the nomination.”
It appears that as part of the Vander Plaats’ endorsement agreement, “Vander Plaats said he would share with Santorum the voter lists he compiled while working last year to oust Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.” There is no payment record from the Santorum for President Campaign, the Leaders for Families PAC or Santorum’s Red, White and Blue PAC for the purchase of any voter lists from Mr. Vander Plaats or The Family Leader.
NOM and the Santorum Joined at the Hip
On July 8, 2011 the National Organization for Marriage and Mr. Vander Plaats’ The Family Leader created a “Marriage Pledge” for 2012 presidential candidates to vow to protect and “uphold a wide-ranging social conservative agenda.” Mr. Santorum was the first to sign this pledge. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0711/58591.html
On November 19, 2011, the National Organization for Marriage cohosted a Thanksgiving Presidential Forum with The Family Leader: http://www.p2012.org/chrniowa/famillyleader111911.html
Mr. Santorum was a breakout star of this forum and he and Newt Gingrich were declared winners. “Gingrich and Santorum helped their campaigns the most.” http://theiowarepublican.com/2011/thanksgiving-family-forum-recap-winners-and-losers/
The National Organization for Marriage turned its official blog into a propaganda machine for Mr. Santorum the week before the Iowa Caucus. The NOMBlog wrote that “Santorum is the ‘Ronald Reagan’ Candidate of the GOP Primary.” “Santorum: GOP’s Man of the Moment,” and reporting on Mr. Santorum’s big surge… into third place in the Iowa polls without mentioning the number 1 and 2 candidates. NOMBlog continued to heavily promote Mr. Santorum throughout the primary season until he suspended his campaign on April 10, 2012.
The National Organization for Marriage celebrated Mr. Santorum’s Iowa Caucus win with Mr. Vander Plaats at the Waterloo Caucus. According to NOM’s official blog, “NOM and The Family Leader have been close allies since the two joined forces in 2010 to defeat three Iowa Supreme Court justices who were facing judicial retention elections following their imposition of same-sex marriage in 2009. All three justices, including the sitting Chief Justice, were removed from office as a result of the NOM/Family Leader campaign.” http://www.nationformarriage.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=omL2KeN0LzH&b=5075189&ct=11571699
On January 9, 2012 Brian Brown, president of National Organization for Marriage donated $50,000 to the Red, White and Blue PAC, the Super PAC for Mr. Santorum, through NOM’s legal arm, ActRight. ActRight shares offices with NOM in Washington, DC.
On January 14, 2012 NOM’s founder Maggie Gallagher endorsed Mr. Santorum for President. She stated that “Rick Santorum has been a hero of the movement in every sense on marriage, life and religious liberty. No one has been braver or taken more hits for his courage than Rick.”
NOM and Santorum: A Long and Sordid History
Mr. Santorum lost his reelection bid in the U S Senate race by more than 17% in 2006 before the National Organization for Marriage helped resurrect his political career. In June of 2009, the National Organization for Marriage mailed a four page fundraising letter signed by Rick Santorum to its huge mailing list.
In NOM’s secret campaign plan “National Strategy for Wining the Marriage Battle” from December 15, 2009 (attached) which was recently unsealed by a federal judge, NOM gloated: “We have already launched a $1 million e-mail, direct mail, and automated call campaign and have gained over 500,000 activists and roughly 20,000 new donors in our first few months of this effort. Rick Santorum has served as the face of this effort through e-mail and direct mail. Mr. Santorum has recently agreed to use his voice in a nationwide automated call effort to solicit activists and donations.”
Santorum continues to campaign for the National Organization for Marriage:
Santorum, Brown and Vander Plaats on “NO Wiggins” Bus Tour http://www.ontopmag.com/article.aspx?id=13153&MediaType=1&Category=26
NOM Under Active Investigations in
Maine and California
On October 1, 2009 the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practice announced an unprecedented investigation of NOM for alleged money laundering of up to $1.9 million in that state’s election to repeal its recently passed same-sex marriage law.
As a result of that investigation many of NOM’s secret campaign documents were unsealed by a federal judge detailing NOM’s chilling attempts to conceal donors in the Maine election: http://americanindependent.com/214817/nom-docs-show-ties-to-anti-gay-marriage-pac
On page 16 of these secret documents, in the section entitled “State Emergency Reserve Fund,” NOM’s campaign plan states… “We face a series of hurdles in getting state ballot initiatives and candidate campaigns funded because donors must be disclosed. However, if NOM makes a contribution from its own resources that are not specifically designated for one of these efforts donor identities are NOT disclosed.” That is the way NOM operates to avoid state election laws and not report its donors’ names: http://tinyurl.com/lfaurcd
For this reason, NOM’s finances are a great mystery and even after two separate decisions from the United States Supreme Court ordering NOM to release its contributor’s names, NOM refuses: http://www.advocate.com/politics/marriage-equality/2012/10/06/nom-still-refuses-disclose-donors-maine
In 2008 during its active role in California’s Proposition 8 campaign, NOM hid $345,000 that it raised that year and presumably spent in that close election. The California Fair Political Practices Commission has been investigating NOM for violating that state’s election law for over one year: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/06/california-to-investigate-anti-gay-group-over-undisclosed-donors/
NOM Active Around the Country
The National Organization for Marriage has become the most visible leader in opposing same-sex marriage throughout the United Sates. Since its inception in 2007 NOM has led campaigns against same-sex marriage in California, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Delaware, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, Maryland, Maine, North Carolina and Washington, DC.
The National Organization for Marriage, Rick Santorum and Bob Vander Plaats have worked hand in hand over the past four years. The National Organization for Marriage had the resources and the reasons to secure Bob Vander Plaats’ endorsement of Rick Santorum for President.
The Federal Election Commission could uncover this “Pay for Play” attempt by the National Organization for Marriage to influence the 2012 Iowa Caucus.
An investigation of the events surrounding Bob Vander Plaats’ 2011 endorsement of Rick Santorum for President would send a clear message to future federal campaigns and organizations that the purchase of an endorsement by third parties in coordination with a federal campaign is illegal.
Potential Witnesses to the Above Described ActivitiesHogan Gidley, Sen. Santorum’s National Communications Director Chuck Hurley, Treasurer, Leaders for Families PAC 515-238-9167, Hurley4God@gmail.com Christopher Marston, Treasurer, Red, White and Blue PAC 540-341-3664 Chris@ElectionCFO.com Alice Stewart – Communications Director, Michele Bachmann for President in 2012 campaign. Ms. Stewart publically discussed an endorsement conversation between Mr. Vander Plaats and Congresswoman Bachmann (Ms. Stewart later went to work for Mr. Santorum’s campaign after Congresswoman Bachmann’s dropped out). https://twitter.com/alicetweet https://www.facebook.com/alice.stewart.98 501-823-0965 (Radio Studio Call In) Ray Sullivan Communications Director, Rick Perry for President http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ray-sullivan/4/b7b/448 http://sullivanpublicaffairs.com / (Office phone number: 512-481-0277) https://www.facebook.com/ray.sullivan.5201
Thank you very much for your prompt attention to this matter.
I affirm under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.