The Big Money Behind Rick Santorum
February 09, 2012, 01:05 PM
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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 ...

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 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.....
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.”


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

From Wikipedia on Phil Knight, founder of Nike:

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.