A well-known conservative activist in Iowa says an insider who worked on his campaigns for governor is trying to ride his coat-tails into the spotlight.

Dan Moore, a Sioux City attorney who backed the three bids Bob Vander Plaats made for governor, held a news conference in Des Moines this morning, accusing Vander Plaats of making “senseless attacks” on the state’s court system.  Vander Plaats dismisses the criticism.

“Iowans had their vote on November 2, 2010,” Vander Plaats said during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa. “They agreed with me in a very historic vote.”

Iowans voted three Iowa Supreme Court justices off the bench — justices who had joined in the court’s unanimous ruling on gay marriage.  Vander Plaats questions Moore’s motives. 

“He’s never called my cell phone, which he has, and he’s never been to my house — he knows where I live — to talk about these issues,” Vander Plaats said. “So I think Dan’s probably more interested in the spotlight and the only way he can get in there is by using my name.” 

Moore, a past president of the Iowa State Bar Association, resigned from his role as treasurer of Vander Plaats’ campaign committee last July when Vander Plaats announced he would lead the effort to oust the supreme court justices. Moore then played a role in the unsuccessful campaign to support the justices.  During today’s news conference, Moore cited a recent Des Moines Register poll which found 45 percent of Iowans “disapprove” of Vander Plaats and his agenda. Vander Plaats suggests Moore was trying to show his “lawyer friends” he is “standing up” to Vander Plaats.

“I’ll take results over a poll any day and the results are clear.” Vander Plaats said. “Iowans voted. They had a decisive voice.  The courts way over-stepped their bounds. They inserted politics into the system and they’re the ones that violated the constitution that that’s why we voted them off the bench.” 

Vander Plaats is now the C.E.O. of The Family Leader, an Iowa-based organization that has been at the forefront of the statewide debate over gay marriage.