Off The Record: On Religion, Politics & Equality
Think Progress was all over it – the Wells family in Iowa – of Wells Blue Bunny ice cream fame – donating about a half-million of dollars to Bob Vander Plaats past gubernatorial campaigns but also to The Iowa Family Policy Center (IFPC) is the federally funded ($3 million clams – don’t get me started) anti-gay Christian group that changed its name to The Family Leader last fall.
Blue Bunny products are all over the place – I posted the Think Progress story this morning and my friend Lisa from Boston, a glorious fag hag, quickly replied – horrified – she had just eaten some Blue Bunny last night.
My friends at Interfaith Iowa started a Boycott Blue Bunny Facebook page that is quickly ticking up “likes”. You don’t mess with the gays people – when will you learn.
Blue Bunny posted this on its Facebook page today:
True private citizens do have a right to donate to whoever they want. And since campaign financing is a matter of public record, we all have the right to see where candidate and cause funding come from so we can decide if we want to patronize their businesses.
But did you hear about the pizza?
I noticed earlier this year that Bob seemed to be slinging up at a lot of Pizza Ranches – when this story came out it made me wonder about the connection. If you aren’t from the Midwest, you are probably not familiar with this local chain – there used to be one in the town near where I grew up. It’s now a church. Not kidding.
An intrepid reporter from Newton posted this about the Bob Vander Plaats/Pizza Ranch connection:
Iowa political reporters often joked on their blogs during Vander Plaats’ short run for governor last year that if you wanted to find him the best place to look was the local Pizza Ranch. The reason being, not that he didn’t like the pizza or the handy meeting rooms to meet with supporters, was that Vander Plaats and the founder of the Iowa pizza chain are old high school buddies from Hull.
According to the pizzeria’s web site, Pizza Ranch was started in 1981, the brainchild of Adrie Groeneweg, who was just 19 at the time. And from a look at recent campaign finance reports, Groeneweg supported Vander Plaats’ run for governor, to the tune of a $5,000 donation last year. What likely further cements the two men’s relationship can be found in the Pizza Ranch vision statement: “To glorify God by positively impacting the world we live in.” So, based on his Pizza Ranch connection, here’s a list of where Vander Plaats will likely be headed soon. As far as the business wisdom of the local Pizza Ranch franchisee’s, I’m guessing they don’t have much choice.
Nice. I too noted the weirdness of the Pizza Ranch connection and Jesus-y vision in a quick post I wrote after the NYTimes article came out.
Inexplicably, Pizza Ranch COO Jon Moss told QSR (Quick Serve Restaurant Magazine) that the phenomenon of political candidates ending up stumping there with startling regularity happened all on its own:
On Sunday, July 3, dozens greeted a tour bus rolling into the parking lot of the Pizza Ranch restaurant in Carroll, Iowa. Out of the bus and into the drizzle stepped Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota representative who sits amid a crowded GOP presidential field.
Just one week before her visit to the Carroll location, another Republican presidential candidate, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, visited a Pizza Ranch outlet in Indianola, Iowa.
As it turns out, Pizza Ranch is becoming quite the destination for presidential candidates traveling Iowa in advance of the 2012 primaries. According to Pizza Ranch COO Jon Moss, Pizza Ranch’s emerging popularity with candidates has happened all on its own.
“We’ve got community rooms in every store and growing political attention in the state that has naturally allowed us to become a target for campaigns,” Moss says. “We expect this to only intensify in the coming months as the primaries draw near.”
Nothing to do with Pizza Ranch’s relationship and funding of Bob Vander Plaats.
Rand Paul will be speaking at a Spencer, Iowa Pizza Ranch on July 29th as announced on dad Ron Paul’s campaign website.
Mike Huckabee stumped at Pizza Ranches all over Iowa in 2007 – Vander Plaats was Huc’s main man in Iowa.
T-Paw spoke at a Ranch in Ames, Iowa.
Could Pizza Ranch, in addition to family members forking over cash to past Vander Plaats campaigns, be giving over in-kind donations to IFPCAction – the PAC arm of The Family Leader? Maybe just directly to The Family Leader which is a 501(c)3 organization. In-kind donations are nothing to sneeze at -Pizza, soda, cheese-balls and space have to cost something.