Skipping Super PAC, Santorum backer Friess spends on his own

March 29, 2012

By Alina Selyukh and Alexander Cohen

Republican Rick Santorum’s main financial backer has gone rogue on the pro-Santorum “Super PAC” with his own, personal spending in support of the U.S. presidential hopeful.

Wyoming millionaire investor Foster Friess has given $1.6 million to the independent political action committee (PAC) backing Santorum – the Red, White and Blue Fund – as its largest donor.

Now he has bypassed the Super PAC and spent $1,176 on a pro-Santorum radio ad entirely on his own, according to a report with the Federal Election Commission posted online on Thursday.

The radio spot went up in Friess’ hometown of Rice Lake in Wisconsin, a state that’s hosting the next contest in the race for the Republican party nomination.

“It’s not a Super PAC, it’s just me doing an independent expenditure,” Friess told Reuters. “I wanted to tell my hometown folks what I know about Rick Santorum and my lawyers said I should report it.”

He said the move did not mean he would stop supporting the Red, White and Blue Fund, calling that financial connection “open-ended.”

Friess said his efforts in Wisconsin also included a pro-Santorum appearance in Eau Claire and said he may make more such independent spending decisions.

“I’m kind of like a little chipmunk in this, running around,” he said, noting that he is disconnected from decision-making at the pro-Santorum Super PAC.

“I have no clue” about how the fund is spending his and other donors’ money, he said. “I hear things about this and that, but I haven’t seen any of the ads.”

The Red, White and Blue Fund has bought $660,000 worth of advertising time in Wisconsin, a Midwestern state that votes on April 3.

According to opinion polls, front-runner Mitt Romney is seen as a likely winner in that state, which would put further pressure on Santorum to give up his fight for the nomination.

The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania has vowed to stay in the race despite his increasingly slim chances of catching Romney in the race for delegates.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and Wall Street executive, and the Super PAC backing him have invested about $3 million in Wisconsin ads so far – outspending Santorum and his supporters by more than three-to-one.

Watch Friess on the Freeland File
iess

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Sarah Conrad (Young Santorum supporters at Westminster Christian Academy in Town and Country, Missouri)

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