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Thursday, 19 January 2012 04:41

Meet Foster Friess, Rick Santorum’s Billionaire Sugar Daddy

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BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Of the three billionaires - Sheldon Adelson, Jon Huntsman, Sr. and Foster Friess -- that Politico's Ken Vogel writes about in his recent piece titled "3 billionaires who'll drag out the race," we probably know the least about Rick Santorum's pal, Foster Friess, who by all accounts has nothing to do with the ice-cream franchise, but has a lot to do with keeping the former Pennsylvania Senator's campaign afloat as the Republican Party's presidential sweepstakes plays out in South Carolina.

Sheldon Adelson, a major backer of Gingrich, has been frequently dubbed the "Casino King," owing to the fortune he's made in the gambling business. A billionaire many times over, Adelson has been backing Gingrich's various enterprises for quite some time; some reports have his earlier donations at $7.7 million. Add to that, the $5 million he recently gave to Gingrich for what could be the disgraced former House Speaker's last stand in South Carolina.

Jon Huntsman, Sr., "who made his fortune at the helm of" the Huntsman Corp., a chemical and manufacturing company, "reportedly invested millions in a super PAC supporting the presidential bid of his son, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr.," who has since dropped out of the race.Vogel reported.

Then, there's Foster Friess.

Santorum's cash cow

Foster Friess is "a major financial backer of a super PAC supporting Rick Santorum called the Red, White and Blue Fund," Politico reported. "'I guess if Newt's got $5 million, it makes sense that ... [Santorum] should have a little bit,' said Friess, who has known Santorum since the 1990s and shares his conservative views on social and foreign policy issues."

According to Politico, Friess "became among the first major donors to the Red, White and Blue Fund because, he said, ‘I believe that Rick Santorum is the most electable candidate. And I'm just thrilled to be able to have played a role so far.'"

The self-styled cowboy spoke on behalf of Santorum in Iowa, and he nabbed a spot on the stage with the former Pennsylvania Senator during his speech after his second place finish in that state.

Friess is the founder of Friess Associates, a Wyoming investment firm that has managed several billion of equities for such clients as the Nobel Foundation of Stockholm, Vanderbilt University, and the Brandywine and Brandywine Blue mutual funds.

Unlike Adelson, who prefers to "stay under the radar," Friess is a front and center kind of guy who has donated oodles of money to a string of conservative causes and candidates.

He has a blog called "Foster Friess" -- the blog's tagline reads: "Encouraging Private Sector Solutions." In a 1998 interview, Friess said:

One of the reasons that the government went into the business of trying to help the poor was that the private sector had turned its back on these problems and created a vacuum. Now the government is failing, and there is another vacuum. It is a great opportunity for the private sector to come back in and demonstrate what it can do."

Friess added: "We will never move government programs into the private sector if the private sector does not step up to fill the need first." Friess believes firmly in the idea of running his business based on his interpretation of Biblical principles, one of which is to discourage sin.

"Any businessman interested in building a healthy economy should see not only the moral but the economic value of discouraging sin and encouraging virtue," Friess said. "As Michael Novak has said, ‘Self-government depends on the capacity of citizens to govern their own passions, urges, habits, and expectations.' We should work to rebuild a virtuous economy. Ephesians 4:28 reads, ‘Let him who stole, steal no more-but take up honest work.' Through our sin, we steal from our economy. God wants us, instead, to be productive-to replace the costs of sin with the rewards of virtue."

Friess' "Key Issues" include "Education," "promoting school choice, charter schools, and innovative private sector solutions"; "Climate Change," "exposing citizens to the best science available, considering the consequences of regulation, and encouraging private sector solutions"; "Government," "promoting ... limited government and exposing the burdens of excessive regulation..."; "Health Care," "a government that controls your health, essentially controls you"; "Immigration," "border security [is] the top priority"; "Helping Peaceful Muslims"; and, "Enduring Values."

"A longtime donor to social conservative causes dear to Santorum, Friess and his wife Lynn, both 71, built a $15.7 billion investment management firm," Politico reported. According to Politico, the Red, White and Blue Fund "intends to ... [buy] $600,000 more in ad time in South Carolina, bringing its total buy to about $800,000 in the state, which is considered fertile ground for Santorum's socially conservative message."

At his blog Truth-2-Power, Brian Ross recently wrote that Santorum's rise in Iowa would not have been likely without support from Friess. Although "Friess manages to avoid the radar of giving... [h]e was acknowledged at the privately held Koch seminar in June 2011 in Vail, Colorado for donating at least $1 million to Koch-related causes." And while "OpenSecrets.org doesn't even list him at this time, and the FEC registers only a paltry $1000 gift to Gary Bauer's campaign in 1999 ... he has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Santorum, both now and in his unsuccessful re-election bid in Pennsylvania in 2006, and the Republican Governor's Association."

Friess is also a member of the Council for National Policy, a secretive organization of right wing policy makers, fundraisers and activists that meet yearly to shape the conservative agenda.

In September 2010, Matthew Reichbach, reporting for the New Mexico Independent, pointed out that has Friess has "promoted the controversial documentary Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West. DVDs of the movie, criticized as inflammatory, were mailed out to swing state voters and inserted in newspapers in advance of the 2008 election." Friess recorded a You Tube video, which called attention to the "powerful" Obsession video.

According to Ross, "Freiss has also reportedly spent more than $3M to fund Tucker Carlson's conservative website, The Daily Caller. ... [and] he gives to conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, and to education groups that advocate for school voucher programs, including the Alliance for School Choice."

In 2010, Friess told the Washington Post by email that, "Tucker and Neil [Patel, Carlson's partner] present a huge opportunity to re-introduce civility to our political discourse. They are mature, sensible men who are very thoughtful and experienced with pleasant senses of humor and do not take themselves too seriously. They want to make a contribution to the dialogue that occurs in our country that has become too antagonistic, nasty and hostile. . . .

"You don't have to be around them very long to sense that they are hard working, committed American Patriots who love this country."
Prior to its launch, Carlson told the ultra-conservative Human Events that the site would be "opposed to what's going on" under President Obama -- "a radical increase in federal power . . . a version of socialism."