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DEVELOPING STORY: Bob Vander Plaats, a high-profile evangelical leader in Iowa, officially endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the Republican presidential primary. Vander Plaats made his announcement during a live appearance on Fox News Channel.
Earlier this year, the DeSantis campaign, a super PAC linked to him and a nonprofit group supporting him together paid $95,000 in recent months to the Family Leader Foundation, an Iowa-based nonprofit led by evangelical leader Vander Plaats, Reuters reported.
Vander Plaats denied there was any link to all that cash and his coveted endorsement.
“My endorsement has never been and never will be for sale,” Vander Plaats told Reuters. “My only interest is in bold, courageous, principled leadership for this country.”
He also admitted to Fox News that he took money from Team DeSantis and had no regrets.
President Trump’s team responded with ferocity and noted the deal smells like an unholy alliance. They also pointed out dozens of other faith leaders in Iowa who have endorsed the former president.
“Over 150 faith leaders in Iowa are organizing their congregations for President Trump and not a single one demanded nearly $100k like Bob Vander Plaat$ did from Ron DeSanctus,” read a statement. “When you are actually the leader of a movement like President Trump is, people are willing to support you for free.”