Bob Vander Plaats, President and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER, announced his endorsement of Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) in the Fourth District congressional race on Thursday.
“Randy is a man of integrity who is guided by his faith and someone Iowans can trust to faithfully represent them in Congress,” Vander Plaats said. “As a State Senator, he has defended Christian values…Randy is a proven conservative who has a long record of delivering results for Iowa.”
It’s an interesting endorsement of Feenstra since Vander Plaats and The FAMiLY LEADER are pretty active at the Capitol. One of The FAMiLY LEADER’s big legislative loses in 2019 was the passage of a bill to legalize sports betting and fantasy sports in Iowa.
Chuck Hurley, vice president and chief counsel for The FAMiLY LEADER, compared gambling to prostitution during debate in 2019.
“If you’re in favor of promoting the gambling vice for economic development, what about prostitution,” he said during a hearing at the Capitol.
At another hearing, Hurley said, “Jesus commanded to love your neighbor, gambling meanwhile is predicated on the losses, pain and suffering of our neighbors. For one to win at gambling, others must lose. I beg you to think outside the box of this room before you vote. I beg you to think about the people who will suffer divorce, suicide, embezzlement and so forth because of gambling expansion.”
Greg Baker, another member of The FAMiLY LEADER’s lobbying group, spoke against the legislation routinely.
“Our concern, always has been with gambling, is the addictive component,” he said. “We know that a lot of Iowans are in favor of expanding into sports gambling. I just ask you — at the Family Leader Foundation, we ask you — to consider what is best for Iowans. And sometimes what is best is not what they want.”
Feenstra, for his part, had stood against legalizing fantasy sports in Iowa previously. In 2017 he said he would not allow a bill to legalize fantasy sports (which the sports betting bill in 2019 also did) because it was a major expanse to gambling.
Yet in 2019, Feenstra allowed the legislation to come up in his Ways and Means Committee. Not only did Feenstra allow it to come up in committee, he voted for the bill in committee.
When the legislation was debated on the floor of the Senate, Feenstra voted against it.
As the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, Feenstra had the power to kill the sports betting/fantasy sports bill in 2019 if he were truly morally objected to it.
Yet he did not.
In fact, Feenstra played a pretty significant role in dealing The FAMiLY LEADER one of its biggest legislative defeats in 2019.