Ron DeSantis is pushing back against a story that he paid for a key evangelical endorser in Iowa, but in doing so he’s leaving out key details.
The Florida Governor told Fox News viewers Monday that the idea that his campaign bought the endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats is a “scurrilous charge” and “without merit.”
“Bob Vander Plaats’ endorsement is not for sale. He’s got a great reputation. He’s become a friend of Casey and me along the way; he’s very influential in Iowa,” he said on “The Ingraham Angle.”
Reuters reported this summer that DeSantis’ presidential campaign, the super PAC Never Back Down, and the 501(c)4 nonprofit And to the Republic combined to spend the money: “The DeSantis campaign paid $25,000 for an ad in the event’s commemorative booklet. … Never Back Down paid $50,000 for a two-page ad in the booklet and tickets to the dinner, while And to the Republic bought a table at the dinner for $20,000.”
The money went to Bob Vander Plaats’ Family Leader Foundation ahead of the July 14 Family Leadership Summit, where the Governor spoke during an interview facilitated by Tucker Carlson. Donald Trump did not attend the event.
DeSantis elided those operational details Monday, saying that “this PAC I don’t control, as you know, but they paid for advertising.” He did not mention his campaign spending, nor the “And to the Republic” expenditure.
Back in August, meanwhile, DeSantis’ campaign promoted the spend with Vander Plaats and wondered why the former President wasn’t budgeting similarly.
“Of course, we were proud to sponsor an ad with one of the largest and most effective social conservative groups in the state of Iowa. The Trump campaign’s malpractice in not doing so is the real story,” said spokesperson Andrew Romeo.
The Trump campaign predicted the endorsement would come to DeSantis months ago.
“WOW — it looks like Ron DeSanctimonious has been exposed for trying to ‘buy’ the endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats for nearly $100,000. This totally and completely makes any future endorsement compromised. What does this say about DeSanctus, whose numbers are dropping like a rock, that he has to try to ‘buy’ endorsements? Not a good look,” asserted the Trump campaign this summer.
On Monday, a Trump spokesperson reinforced the pay-to-play narrative, saying endorsements from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Vander Plaats “have failed to give Ron and his campaign any type of positive boost.”