GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich last year donated at least $350,000 to a social conservative campaign that successfully ousted three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who ruled in favor of same sex marriage in the state.

After the Iowa high court unanimously voted in April 2009 to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, a coalition of Christian and "values" groups waged a campaign to oust three of the justices who helped bring about that decision. The groups compared legal same sex marriage to government taking away property rights and deciding who gets to live and die. All three justices were voted out last November.

Gingrich, it turns out, was instrumental in advancing that campaign. The Former House Speaker funneled $200,000 to Iowa for Freedom, one of the groups in the campaign against the three justices, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"Newt provided strategic advice and arranged the initial seed money, about $200,000, which is what got everything started," the group's executive director David Lane told the LA Times.

In addition, Gingrich's fundraising arm ReAL Action gave $125,000 to a campaign last fall by the American Family Association, which was involved with the effort targeting the justices, the Des Moines Register reported.

Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler admitted to the Register that ReAL Action contributed another $25,000 to the organization now known as the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, which also played a major role in the same campaign.

The Georgia Republican's efforts to bankroll a popular cause with Republican voters in Iowa, which holds the first critical test for GOP primary contestants, is hardly likely to be a coincidence. He has made a special attempt to court evangelicals in recent months, a key element of the Republican base whose support is invaluable for presidential aspirants.

Gingrich this month became the first GOP contender to declare his desire to run for president, though he trails in the polls to several other hopefuls.

(h/t ThinkProgress)