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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

(Photo: Video Capture)
(Photo: Video Capture)

Vander Plaats remains closed-mouthed

By Lynda Waddington | 07.21.11 | 8:17 am

More than 1,300 people have signed a petition seeking an explanation from Bob Vander Plaats in connection to his reaction to an off-color and homophobic joke. Despite the outcry, however, Vander Plaats has remained silent.

“Rarely does Vander Plaats shy away from the spotlight,” said Troy Price, executive director of One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group.

“If Vander Plaats truly feels that this sort of language is appropriate, then he should come out and say so. But, if he feels — like so many Iowans do — that derogatory and shameful language like this does not belong in this discussion, he should apologize, and apologize quickly.”

Vander Plaats is head of the religious conservative organization The Family Leader and, in video recently obtained by liberal advocacy group Think Progress, was caught openly enjoying and laughing at a statement by an attendee at an event hosted and organized by TFL: “Iowa, the state where you can’t smoke a fag, but you can marry one.”

“Shoot, that’s pretty good,” Vander Plaats responds while laughing.

One Iowa began its petition for an apology Tuesday, shortly after the video surfaced, and had garnered 1,000 signatures within the first 24 hours. According to Price, that’s the most responses the group has ever received in a single day.

“The bullying tactics of Bob Vander Plaats and the Family Leader have gone too far,” said Price. “The overwhelming response we have seen shows just how Vander Plaats’ actions have hurt loving, committed couples and their families across the state. This type of language has no place in the conversation about marriage. Bob Vander Plaats must apologize to the thousands of Iowans he has offended with his actions.”

The Iowa Independent reached out to The Family Leader for comment on the video prior to the petition drive. To date no response has been forthcoming. Price notes that organizational leaders have also neglected a similar request for comment from KCCI-TV in Des Moines.

On Wednesday, Think Progress released a second video from May in which Vander Plaats praises real estate mogul Donald Trump’s “birther” theories during a Family Leader event in Glenwood and implies that President Barack Obama isn’t a U.S. citizen.

The Family Leader and Vander Plaats have taken great strides to exert political influence in the Hawkeye State as well as nationally, through the 2012 Iowa caucus process. The organization continues to host a presidential lecture series, which invites potential and established 2012 GOP candidates to speak at events. Employees of the organization, which draws funds from individual and church sponsorships, also lobby at the State Capitol on social conservative issues such as abortion and marriage.

Although the organization’s most recent push — a social pledge entitled “The Marriage Vow,” which was initially targeted toward 2012 presidential candidates — has not resulted in a wealth of signatures from GOP candidates, it has, as University of Iowa political scientist Tim Hagle earlier noted, elevated the national discussion of social conservative issues in a frame that suits The Family Leader’s mission. The organization has since opened the vow for signatures from anyone visiting their website. Everyday signatories are pledging not to contribute to or support politicians who have not signed the pledge.

It remains unclear if the lengthy and footnoted vow, which was altered shortly after its release to remove a much scrutinized statement about African Americans and slavery, has a political cost.

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  • Anonymous

    For some reason this makes me chuckle – BVP, silent?  That’s a first…

  • Anonymous

    Now if only he can keep up his silence for….oh, let’s say….ever.

  • Anonymous

    Was there any question that BVP would ignore this collective call for an apology?

  • Anonymous

    So all we need to shut Bob up is some mildly offensive wordplay?  Really?

    I have to say, this seems to be a proverbial molehill.  Attacking the judiciary is offensive on a state-wide scale; laughing at a statement which incorporates two definitions of the term ‘fag’, one commonly accepted as derogatory, for the sake of making a play on words, is pretty much a minor matter of poor taste, and even that is open to interpretation (when I heard first heard this joke, it was lauding, not lamenting, Iowa’s progressiveness).

    I normally applaud any effort to topple BVP from his precarious pinnacle of self-aggrandizement, but with so many enormous offenses, why so much focus on this little one?

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