Washington (AP) - Potential presidential candidate Newt Gingrich quietly lined up $150,000 to help defeat
Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker who has aggressively courted the conservatives who dominate
That group then passed $125,000 to American Family Association Action and an additional $25,000 to the Iowa Christian Alliance - two of the groups that spent millions before last November's elections that removed three of the state's seven state Supreme Court justices. The court had unanimously decided a state law restricting marriage to a man and a woman violated
The financial transfers, which appear to comply with campaign finance laws, were part of a steady flow of cash into
The spending comes as Gingrich is seeking to make allies among social conservatives who drive the caucuses, though some voters might question whether an outsider should be raising money for a contentious ideological fight confined to one state.
Presidential candidates regularly raise money for state legislators as a way to ingratiate themselves. But Gingrich's behind-the-scenes role in one of the nation's most contentious ballot measures last year was unusual. There are a number of companies and nonprofits that Gingrich founded or lent his credibility to after his resignation from Congress.
Gingrich's longtime spokesman Rick Tyler serves as chairman of ReAL, which operates with the goal of preserving "
Gingrich's involvement with the plan to oust the justices started last year when he met privately with hundreds of pastors and their spouses. The effort seemed tailored for social conservatives, whose support Gingrich will need if he is to mount a credible campaign in
He lined up the cash for ReAL Action,
So the money went to the two conservative organizations without specific instructions on how to use it,
Some are skeptical.
"It is not customary in the political world for large sums of money to shift hands without a clear objective," said Marcus Owens, a
Gingrich has moved toward a White House run but has made a few missteps in his opening days. An appearance some advisers thought would be a campaign kick-off turned into a simple quick statement because some advisers worried the private plane that ferried Gingrich to
In recent weeks, he has sought to confront some of the ready-made attacks on his candidacy should he run, especially his two failed marriages. Reaching out to conservatives in
His exploratory committee's website features the former
On Tuesday, the couple announced on Twitter that they were in