WASHINGTON — Foster Friess, the millionaire who funded outside groups supporting Rick Santorum’s presidential bid and is now helping to bankroll Romney’s Super PAC, thinks that he and other super wealthy donors should be able to give unlimited amounts of money directly to the candidate of their choice without any restrictions.
At the Faith & Freedom Conference last week, Friess bemoaned to ThinkProgress the complications in trying to donate: Citizens United, the famed Supreme Court decision, allowed anyone and any corporation to donate unlimited funds to a campaign, but they were forced to go through a third party that could not coordinate directly with the candidate.
Friess would like to change this. He believes that Super PACs are a superfluous step in the process of pouring millions of dollars into campaigns, and that people like himself and corporations overall should be able to write checks straight to the candidate:
FRIESS: I think all these little loopholes, and — you know, during the campaign I had to be so careful that I didn’t say certain things and keep the Super PAC and the campaign separate. So, I was paranoid to make sure that I followed the rules carefully. So, it’d be nice to get rid of that so that each person could give to the candidate of his choice as much money as he wanted and it was fully disclosed. So, I’m wholeheartedly behind Tim Pawlenty in that.
Citizens United shook the very bedrock of campaign finance by allowing unlimited donations to campaigns. Its effects are already clear: Sheldon Adelson, another funder in the vein of Friess, will soon have spent $71 million on supporting Republicans. Friess is not the first to advocate for direct unlimited contributions, either: Mitt Romney himself has pushed for it.
Unlimited contributions are harmful in that they give the very rich and corporations bigger leverage in how elections turn out, despite the fact that corporations cannot vote. Poor and middle class Americans are unable to pour in the kind of huge contributions that a corporation can, and so their needs often go unnoticed. But Friess may be correct in that direct donations would create more transparency — in the past four years, the amount of undisclosed spending has risen by 47 percent.