Rich anti-contraception Republican mega-donor may run for U.S. senate

Foster Friess, who bankrolled America's Islamaphobia movement, says he may challenge Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).

Foster Friess
GOP mega-donor and possible Senate candidate Foster Friess, in 2015. CREDIT: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Multi-millionaire financial investor and Republican mega-donor Foster Friess told the Washington Post on Monday that he is exploring running for the Senate in his home state of Wyoming. Such a run — possibly encouraged by former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon — would require unseating incumbent Sen. John Barrasso, the chairman of the Senate’s Republican Policy Committee.

Who is Foster Friess? Perhaps he is best known as the man who almost single-handedly bankrolled former Sen. Rick Santorum’s (R-PA) 2012 presidential campaign, through an allegedly “independent” super PAC. In an interview during that campaign, he made national news for his suggestion that, rather than use expensive contraception, people in need of birth control should use aspirin.

“You know, back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives,” he told MSNBC. “The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly,” he explained, suggesting that it was the particular responsibility of women and gender minorities to avoid pregnancy by not having sex.

Santorum is not the only Republican Friess has funded — he has given millions of dollars to GOP candidates and committees in support of former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Gov. John Kaisch (R-OH), former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), and former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY).

Friess has also bankrolled several notoriously Islamaphobic organizations, including Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and David Horowitz’s Terrorism Awareness Project. He also quietly made at least $3.5 million in undisclosed in investments in Tucker Carlson’s conservative news site, the Daily Caller.

Much like Bannon’s approach with Trump, Friess has a history of embracing division and discrimination. In his commencement speech at the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University in 2007, he urged students to “be more intolerant,” as he denounced the “secular Taliban” who push the notion that people’s different values must be accepted. In a 2002 speech entitled “Tolerance Is Not Always Good,” Friess blamed the mass school shooting in Columbine on political progressives and encouraged his audience to let the tragedy “battle cry for all of us so that we may change our society through productive intolerance.”