Foster Friess, the multi-millionaire financial investor who — until recently — was practically single-handedly bankrolling Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign, has a long history supporting Republican candidates and conservative causes. And unlike some of his fellow mega-donors like the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson, Friess has never tried all that hard to hide his intentions or methods.
On his personal YouTube page, more than a dozen sparsely-viewed videos show Friess discussing his philanthropic endeavors as well as his thoughts on President Obama, health care reform and the cause of the economic crisis. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting things about Friess that you may not know:
1. He has a long history funding Islamophobic organizations. One of Friess’ biggest beneficiaries is a collection of some of the largest Islamophobic organizations in the country, including Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and David Horowitz’s Terrorism Awareness Project.
2. He filmed an introduction video to Clarion Fund’s Islamophobic “Obsession” Documentary. The controversy and outrage over the film “Obsession” has been well documented, but that didn’t seem to faze Friess, who filmed a five and a half minute promotional video in which he encouraged viewers to purchase the full DVD and use it “as a voting guide when you go into the election booth on election day.”
3. He preached intolerance in a commencement speech at the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University. “Be more intolerant,” urged Friess to a room full of graduating students in 2007. “There’s a group of people — maybe the secular Taliban is a good name for them — who have morphed this idea, that you have to accept my values being every bit as cherished as your values. That’s not tolerance…there are too many things in this world which we sit back and tolerate.”
4. He has given A LOT to Republican politicians. Rick Santorum’s not the only beneficiary of Friess’ campaign contributions. Over the years, Friess has contributed millions of dollars to Republican candidates and committees across the country, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry’s also not the only former Santorum competitor who cashed big checks from Friess. Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign has received $5,000 from Lynette and Foster, Mitt Romney received $1,000 for this election (and the campaign maximum $4,600 from both Friess’s in 2007) and even Tim Pawlenty’s presidential exploratory committee deposited a cool $5,000. Talk about hedging your bets.
5. He donated to gay rights advocate, former Republican Senator Alfonse D’Amato. And not just a few thousand dollars either. In the mid-1990s, Friess funneled over $260,000 to committees with ties to the former New York senator, who famously bucked his party on LGBT issues and voted against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 1993 and for the Employee Non Discrimination Act. Granted, the donations were more likely contributed as a way to protect his own business interests than actual gay rights, but D’Amato is a strange bedfellow for someone supporting a candidate who compared homosexuality to man-on-dog sex.
6. He was a founding donor to conservative news site The Daily Caller. A $3 million initial investment into Tucker Carlson’s news site in early 2010 helped it get off the ground. He’s since made at least one additional contribution of $500,000. Yet as POLITICO notes, The Daily Caller has thus far failed to disclose its connection to Rick Santorum when covering him on the campaign trail.
7. He claimed liberals were to blame for Columbine shooting. In a speech delivered at the Metropolitan Club in New York City in 2002, Friess tried to pin the blame for 1999’s Columbine school shooting on liberals. “How hard have those intolerant of John Adam’s perspective worked to strip from young people any hope of knowing the concepts and truths that help deal with life…They have gone to great lengths to strip all of this away and we have sat back in the name of tolerance while our youth were robbed of these truths and proven tools. I think we should be encouraged to learn from Columbine and let it be a battle cry for all of us so that we may change our society through productive intolerance.”