February 8, 2012

The Big Money behind Rick Santorum

Back in 1993, President Carlos Salinas of Mexico held a private dinner for Carlos Slim and 29 other rich Mexicans to whom he had sold various government monopolies. They all knew he was going to ask for campaign contributions to the ruling PRI party's 1994 presidential run, but Salinas's request for 25 million from each was kind of startling. 750 million is a lot of pesos, some grumbled. The president of Mexico replied that he wasn't demanding 750 million pesos from his guests, he was demanding 750 million dollars.

From the NYT:
A Wealthy Backer Likes the Odds on Santorum 
By JIM RUTENBERG and NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
Many more Republicans are taking Mr. Santorum seriously now, thanks to his victories in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado on Tuesday — and perhaps none more than Mr. Romney, for whom Mr. Santorum’s unexpected rise poses another threat from the right. 
Few people played a more pivotal role in Tuesday’s turn of events than Mr. [Foster] Friess.

Is this guy named after the old Foster Freeze ice creams stands? Maybe he was conceived in the parking lot out back of one ... (No, it turns out that Mr. Friess is a few years older than the California chain.)
An investor who made millions in mutual funds and now lives in Wyoming, he is the chief backer of a “super PAC” that has helped keep Mr. Santorum’s candidacy alive by running television advertisements on his behalf. 
His role as outside funder — one that Mr. Friess indicated he would continue to play in the contests ahead — escalates the battle among a few dozen wealthy Republicans to influence their party’s choice of a presidential nominee. 
They are exploiting changes to campaign laws and regulations that have allowed wealthy individuals and businesses to pool unlimited contributions into super PACs that in turn have inundated the airwaves with negative advertisements. 
Mr. Friess’s chosen outlet, called the Red, White and Blue Fund, provided critical support for Mr. Santorum as he successfully sought to resuscitate his campaign with victories in Tuesday’s contests. At a time when Mr. Santorum could not afford to pay for a single commercial of his own, the Red, White and Blue Fund focused in particular on Minnesota, where the super PAC supporting Mr. Romney, Restore Our Future, broadcast a last-minute blitz of advertising against him, according to an analysis from Kantar Media/CMAG. 

This is all fascinating, but I'm most interested in how much Foster Friess has put up. America in 2012 is a lot richer than Mexico in 1993, so it's got to be a big number, right?
But Mr. Friess’s help could prove even more vital in the weeks ahead, as Mr. Santorum tries to capitalize on his upset victories on Tuesday to mount a more assertive challenge to Mr. Romney and to Newt Gingrich, who has an even more deep-pocketed supporter in the billionaire casino executive Sheldon Adelson, one of the richest men in country.

Okay, swell, but enough foreplay. Tell us how much?
... He is relatively rare among the major backers of super PACs for his close association with the religious conservative movement. His Web site quotes Scripture, and he often says that God is “the chairman of my board.” 
He is also rare for his willingness to speak openly about his political giving, a break from Mr. Adelson, who has not spoken publicly about his donations of $10 million, with his wife, to the super PAC supporting Mr. Gingrich.....

Show me the money number!
Campaign filings show that Mr. Friess has given the Red, White and Blue Fund more than 40 percent of its financing as of Dec. 31, or $331,000. He said he had subsequently given more. But he would not say how much, or how much more he may give in the future, joking, “If my wife finds out how much I put into the campaign and Santorum doesn’t win, you’re basically talking suicide.” 
And he played down the significance of his giving, crediting Mr. Santorum with his own victories and noting that another donor — whom he would not name — had chipped in $1 million to the fund and was talking about giving more as of Wednesday morning.
Asked what compelled him to give so much, he said: “No. 1, I think of all the guys that strap a gun on their backs and head to Afghanistan and Iraq to keep us free and safe and maintain what America has stood for. If I put up a million bucks or whatever, it doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice.”

Microsoft spent $700 million on marketing the introduction of Windows 95. Today, a million dollars would get you about 8 seconds of Super Bowl commercial airtime.

From Wikipedia on Phil Knight, founder of Nike, which spends approaching $2.5 billion on advertising annually:
He is believed to have contributed approximately $230 million to the University of Oregon, the majority of which was for athletics. On August 18, 2007, Knight announced that he and his wife, Penny, would be donating an additional $100 million to the University of Oregon Athletics Legacy Fund. This donation is reportedly the largest in the University's history. 
His significant contributions have granted him influence and access atypical of an athletic booster. In addition to having the best seats in the stadium for all University or Oregon athletic event, he has his own locker in the football team's locker room.

So, I'm reading that as Phil Knight giving a minimum of $215 million to U. of Oregon sports teams, primarily the football team, which made the BCS Bowl a year ago. Granted, that's over a long number of years. Still, $215 million seems like a lot compared to what it apparently takes to get your boy into the hunt for a major party Presidential nomination. Sure, there are lots of rules limiting political contributions, but there are lots of rules limiting amateur athletics, too, and that doesn't seem to stop the Phil Knights and T. Boone Pickens from spending hundreds of millions to win at college football. And from a hardheaded return-on-investment point of view, surely having your own President has to be more profitable than having your own locker in the football team's locker room.

The only conclusion I can draw is that a lot of rich American businessmen just care about college football more than they care about politics or political power. Overall, I guess that's a good thing.

37 comments:

Reg C├Žsar said...

Rick Santorum rocketed from a D to an A- on the NumbersUSA scorecard recently.

If he drops back down to D, we'll know why Mr Friess is donating.

Anonymous said...

1. My kids loved going to the local Foster's Freeze down the road from Stanford, but it wasn't started by that guy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fosters_Freeze
2. In addition to his giving at Oregon Phillip Knight gave $100 million to Stanford for this. http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/headlines/knightmanagementcenteropens.html

morleysafer said...

Campaign finance is their top story this week, every week. If some rich guy who doesn't assiduously cultivate a faction of the press (not Soros or Mellon Scaife in other words) tosses around such filthy lucre it is major, major news. If ever one of those diabolical tycoons donated 500 large it'd go on page 1 for a month and you'd see Politico make a new section on the site for it. These malefactors who affront the sacred influence of the media priesthood are, basically, the moral equivalent of Satan-worshiping preschool-sex-cult serial killers

Wes said...

So is there any way, any way on earth, to make make it cool for rich guys to look out for Native Born White Americans?

Anonymous said...

As Steve said, sponsoring sports' teams is a harmless activity - and a damn sight more attractive than buying up dirty politicians like pieces on a chessboard.

My theory is that one reason why these tycoons do this is to curry favor with the general public, to show that they are 'one of the boys', but the 'biggest' boy on the block, the one who had all the gizmos, gadgets and trendiest clothes and best toys 'daddy bought him a RC aeroplane, 'can I play with you?' ie perhaps it's the desire to be accepted as an average Joe, but a good beneficient average Joe and the leader of the pack.
Anyway, the bevavior always reminds me of kids and train sets.
Nothing is new under the sun.In ancient Rome rich men put up the sponsor money for gladiator shows in order to curry favor.

beowulf said...

Maybe he was conceived in the parking lot out back of one...
Or he was a frozen embryo.

SuperPacs are a new phenomenon, I think as time goes by (I mean, as in in a matter of weeks), you'll see more billionaires jumping in the pool to influence the presidential and other federal races. It won't be a secret which House or Senate races are tossups. You're going to see more SuperPac money flood into, say, the Montana US Senate race than can probably be spent short of handing cash to voters.
I imagine Andy Tobias (who moonlights as DNC Treasurer) is calling his whales and telling them that if they want to keep the Republicans out, its time to kick in the Buffett Rule (which would increase their capital income tax rate from 15% to 30%) a year early. His GOP counterpart's message will be similar, you can either pay 15% this year or get stuck paying it every year from now on.
In other words, a 15% Supertithe to fund a whole bunch of SuperPacs. Even though I'm a Republican, I think I'll email Tobias the idea (my love of a good trainwreck outweighs my love of party).

No one has realized yet there's a simple way to legally coordinate campaign spending. The candidate puts its ads online and a SuperPac "steals his intellectual property" and runs it on TV, there's no law that requires the candidate to enforce his copyright. I won't tell Tobias that part. :o)

Daybreaker said...

Wes: "So is there any way, any way on earth, to make make it cool for rich guys to look out for Native Born White Americans?"

This is the only question that matters.

Stuff Black People Don't Like said...

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2405013

Sponsoring college football is not a harmless act, especially when your team gets probation for your financial meddling. Just ask BAMA booster Logan young.

Steve, college football is just a big non- profit scam, but it is better than donating big bucks to watch us invade other nations.

http://www.statesman.com/news/texas/does-big-time-college-football-deserve-its-big-149737.html

However, all this donating does little for the state of cities like Birmingham, Memphis, new Orleans, Atlanta, and other inner city areas where big time recruits grow up.

Is it better to pay for influence to invade the world, or to pay for influence over the sons of people we've invited from all over the world (some by chains over 400 years ago)?

Charles Frith said...

If I may

http://www.charlesfrith.com/2011/12/rupert-murdoch-primary.html

Foreign Expert said...

Don't tell the Chinese. When they realize how little it costs to get into the game, there's bound to be major inflation.

Hunsdon said...

Using moneyball metrics, it is ridiculously cheap to buy American politicians, whether in terms of campaign donations or bribery. (See William Jefferson's $90,000 in "cold hard cash.")

Ed said...

Steve has a point. If these guys really cared about politics, they would run for office themselves. Bloomberg did it in New York, and Corzine in New Jersey. Both spent so much money compared to their opponents, and so much money per voter, that you could fairly say they bought their respective elections.

Now as it happens Bloomberg barely won his first race and his third was pretty close, and Corzine wound up losing one of his races, plus superwealthy politicians wound up going down to defeat in California on several occasions (note that California is much more of a clean politics state than either New York or New Jersey). And Bloomberg spent ALOT of money on his races, presidential campaign level amounts on an electorate of a few million.

So this might answer my own question, there is some evidence of public resistance to the tycoons themselves running. We might be seeing this with Romney, maybe it would have been a better idea for him just to bankroll the eventual Republican nominee.

Dahinda said...

Rick Santorum is the Manchurian Candidate: http://news.yahoo.com/santorum-communist-clan-113600418.html

dogzma said...

"These malefactors who affront the sacred influence of the media priesthood are, basically, the moral equivalent of Satan-worshiping preschool-sex-cult serial killers"

Railing against the MSM. Could it be that I've stumbled upon the MPM (military propaganda machine)?

Will sanity ever be restored? How many more years of this can we expect? Would you tell me if you knew?

Mr. Anon said...

Our politicians aren't even call-girls. They are street-walkers - ten dollar whores.

Propeller Island said...

You don't need all that much money for a campaign. Outside of a small core of professionals, the people who work for campaigns are volunteers. You need to occasionally provide them with buses or sandwiches but it's not all that expensive.

Chicago said...

One permanent theme in campaigning is that more money purchases more advertising which results in more votes, seemingly. So, are the voters of this country so manipulable that they just vote according to the last ad they've seen? Is the populace so bad that the best ad, best haircut, best tie, etc, is what gets them to vote for someone? It's very disheartening to contemplate the level of mental calculation made by the average voter. In countries where the population is largely illiterate the ballots show pictures that represent the parties. Maybe they should do that here; have ballots with a photo of each candidate so the all-wise voters can choose the ones they find to be the most agreeable looking.

Black Death said...

The athletic donors I can understand - sort of. I have some friends who are big college sports fans and give regularly to their favorite programs. Personally, when I make a large donation to a school, I always earmark it for a particular academic program - I never just put it in the general fund. Athletics are fun, but that's not really why colleges and universities exist, although some might differ with me here.

I really don't understand the political donors. Most of this year's Republicans seem pretty ordinary to me. I certainly would never give millions of dollars to any PAC, even if I had it to give. Now Carlos Salinas and his friends I can understand - it's just payment for goods received.

Anonymous said...

1. The fattest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir
Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.
2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned
out to be an optical Aleutian.
3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because
it was a weapon of math disruption.
5. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be
stationery.
6. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for
littering.
7. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum
Blownapart.
8. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
9. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are
looking into it.
10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
11. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
12. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said
to the other: 'You stay here; I'll go on a head.'
13. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
14. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the
Grass.'
15. The midget fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small
medium at large.
16. The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a
seasoned veteran.
17. A backward poet writes inverse.
18. In a democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's
your count that votes.
19. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.
20. If you jumped off the bridge in Paris, you'd be in Seine.
21. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The
stewardess looks at him and says, 'I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion
allowed per passenger.'
22. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and
says 'Dam!'
23. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in
the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't
have your kayak and heat it too.
24. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, 'I've lost my electron.' The
other says 'Are you sure?' The first replies, 'Yes, I'm positive.'
25. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a
root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.
26. There was the person who sent ten puns to friends, with the hope
that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten
did.

Anonymous said...

Well some rich guys have no problem putting 100 million into the political arena. When it comes to silencing the Sierra Club for example.

Carol said...

So is there any way, any way on earth, to make make it cool for rich guys to look out for Native Born White Americans?

Henry Ford would have been all over that.

At least back then he was.

Anonymous said...

politicians come and go, but sports teams come and go, and so vain rich people give their money to college sports and like.

to be sure, politics is like sports too.

Jim said...

Shhh, Beowulf - I thought you had sworn an oath to only use your gift for finding obscure legal loopholes for good, not evil...

Big Money Behind Barack said...

From what I hear, all these GOP candidates are pikers compared to Obama and the Big Money he has amassed.

Will I see a proliferation of MSM stories on the Big Money behind Barack Obama in proportion to the size of his war chest?

Dutch Boy said...

"a lot of rich American businessmen just care about college football more than they care about politics or political power"
Since these people are knuckle-headed menaces to society in general, it most definitley IS a good thing!

Anonymous said...

Kristof impersonates Brooks. He says the loss of union jobs is to blame.... but isn't he a supporter of globalism and open borders that ships jobs overseas and brought in tens of millions of immigrants, many illegal? Also, if unions hadn't been so corrupt and demanding, many US companies may have been less willing to support globalism.

Truth said...

Hay, Hay, I know y'll tom' bout polaticksn' shit, but a Chah-Knee doin' whachall whiteBoyz wish y'all coulda did!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiwSUxszuN0&feature=related

Anonymous said...

"Friess" might be an old Huguenot name.

But I am also getting lots of Scots-Irish hits...

Marlowe said...

I had to laugh a few years ago when the current Opposition party in the British Parliament (and former governing party) struggled with debts of around £20 million. London hosts billionaires such as Roman Abramovich who commissioned a super-yacht for the princely sum of £300 million at around the same time. He also owns Chelsea Football Club. Men like Mr. Abramovich could buy up all of the UK's major political parties out of chump change. They don't because they don't have to do it to get what they want out of the government.

It seems fair for the Mexican President to demand that Carlos Slim stump up millions given how Mr. Slim owes his billions to the Mexican governments state created telecommunications monopoly.

Propeller Island said...

"The only conclusion I can draw is that a lot of rich American businessmen just care about college football more than they care about politics or political power."

That's because, compared with the historical baseline, American politicians have very little power.

Suppose you spent $100 million and put your boy in the White House. So what's now? Can he start sending goodies your way? Well, he may try; but first he has to convince a million different constituencies: the Congress, the media, various interest groups, sometimes even the people. On the other hand, if those constituencies are already convinced it doesn't matter who the President is; whoever he is, he will follow. So what's the point of electing your own President? You are better off sending in the lobbyists.

Steve Sailer said...

Morley Safer says:

"These malefactors who affront the sacred influence of the media priesthood are, basically, the moral equivalent of Satan-worshiping preschool-sex-cult serial killers"

Good point.

sestamibi said...

Amazing. You didn't even blame the Jews in this post!

Jacob Roberson said...

Dahinda said...

Rick Santorum is the Manchurian Candidate: http://news.yahoo.com/santorum-communist-clan-113600418.html


Well that was interesting.

Go Ron Paul! said...

One million dollars?

Mabel, bar the door!

Marlowe said...

Going on Hunter Thompson's account of his one close, private & intimate meeting with the Great Man*, Richard Milhous Nixon cared a hell of a lot more for college football than he did for politics as well.

* Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.

TomV said...

Amazing. You didn't even blame the Jews in this post!

Amazing. Nobody mentioned the Jews at all!

Oh wait...

morleysafer said...

Meh, save it for Nader's Raiders