An open letter to Bob Vander Plaats from a secret group

A secretive “group” calling itself Iowans for Christian Leaders in Government has penned an open letter to Bob Vander Plaats, the GOP candidate for governor in 2002, 2006 & 2010 who is now president & CEO of The Family Leader. TFL is a conservative group that’s been leading the effort against gay marriage in Iowa. Vander Plaats said earlier this month he might endorse a candidate on his own, and he didn’t rule out giving his backing to Newt Gingrich. Vander Plaats made his statements on the eve of The Family Leader’s presidential candidate forum, in which Gingrich participated.

…Newt Gingrich didn’t sign “The Marriage Vow,” but Vander Plaats said Gingrich — who has admitted to affairs and has divorced twice — isn’t automatically disqualified from getting his endorsement or the backing of The Family Leader.

“At the heart of our faith is a thing called forgiveness,” Vander Plaats said. “…Has he asked for forgiveness? Has he demonstrated a level of maturity? Is he willing to move on? A lot of these attendees like Newt, they like his experience and they like his ability to debate and so if the focus can be on his vision for America, I think he’s going to do well. If the focus remains on his personal past, then he’s probably going to be in trouble.”

Now, Vander Plaats is the target of a letter from Iowans for Christian Leaders in Government which focuses not only on Gingrich’s past, but on Vander Plaats’ past.  Read it below:

Dear Mr. Vander Plaats:

We are aware that you are preparing to endorse a candidate for President of the United States in the coming weeks.  This will undoubtedly be an important decision considering you have the ear of many Christians throughout our state of Iowa.  Our group believes that we must select leaders who not only espouse our values, but who live them each and every day.

With that being said, we have serious concerns that your endorsement may be guided, not by prayer and conviction, but by personal benefit and prior relationships.  Of which, would seem to lead you toward Newt Gingrich and, needless to say, he is not an acceptable choice among Christians.

These concerns of an imminent Newt Gingrich endorsement stem from the following:

1.       Your prior connection to Mr. Gingrich via Congressman Jim Nussle.

2.       Your ill-advised track record as it pertains to supporting candidates that lack common moral fiber.

3.       Your acceptance of $200,000 which Mr. Gingrich secured for your organizations.


In 2006, Mr. Nussle ran for Governor and asked that you serve as his running mate; an offer your willfully accepted.

In the nineties, Mr. Nussle’s current wife was working for Mr. Gingrich; while Mr. Gingrich’s current wife was working for a committee which Mr. Nussle served on in the House of Representatives.

Furthermore, both men were married when they began affairs with each other’s staff members – all while Mr. Gingrich was leading the investigation into Bill Clinton’s extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky.  This is an unfortunate irony.

More importantly, it points to a willful disregard of personal behavior and you are forever linked to both of these candidates in a way that is unacceptable for many of us who demand Christian leadership.

Which brings us to our next concern.


As previously mentioned, you joined Mr. Nussle’s gubernatorial ticket in 2006.

During that cycle, you travelled to every corner of Iowa trumpeting Mr. Nussle’s character and his ability to represent the values of Iowans. You did this all the while you knew he betrayed the bond he made to God upon proclaiming his vows to his first wife.

We do not blame you for Mr. Nussle’s indiscretion; however, we do worry that if you went as far as to vigorously campaign for and place your name beside his on the ballot that an endorsement of Mr. Gingrich would not be out of the realm of possibility.

With that said, we fully recognize that you do deserve some credit.  Iowa voting records have since shown that you did not vote for Mr. Nussle or in the 2006 election – an indication that even you did not truly believe his values were adequate for higher office.


In 2010, Mr. Gingrich helped you secure $200,000 in seed money for one of your efforts.

This is a great deal of money, but we trust that this will not have an impact on your decision as an endorsement which will represent our Christian values.

We do believe hope still resides that you may reconsider your endorsement.  You lead an organization that encompasses an affiliate group called “Marriage Matters” and not only did Mr. Gingrich fail to sign your Marriage Vow, he failed to live his life in accordance with the values we hold so dear.

It is by now public knowledge that Mr. Gingrich has been unfaithful to two of his previous spouses, even delivering divorce papers to one as she lay in the hospital from a condition surrounding her cancer.  We pray that marriage truly does matter as much as you represent, and not as little as it has meant to the candidates you have supported in the past.

Mr. Vander Plaats, all of our concerns derive from a larger one that your endorsement may be for sale, either for money or for status.  Please don’t sell Iowa’s values to the highest bidder.  These 30 pieces of silver are simply not worth the weight your conscience will bear as you consider misleading thousands of Christian voters in Iowa into believe Mr. Gingrich represents their values.

If you take nothing else from our letter please remember that “whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live” (Proverbs 15:27).

May your decision be guided by the Lord,

Iowans for Christian Leaders in Government

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.