Type of organization: Super PAC
Supports: Rick Santorum
Founded: Oct. 1, 2011
- Nick Ryan (founder): Former Santorum adviser; founder and president of Concordia Group, LLC, a political consulting firm; longtime adviser to former Rep. Jim Nussle, R-Iowa. Also founded American Future Fund, a nonprofit that supports conservative candidates.
- Stuart Roy (spokesman): Partner at Prism Public Affairs; former chief spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and former chief communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
- Christopher Marston (treasurer): Founder of Election CFO, which provides campaign finance services; held top positions under former President George W. Bush in the Department of Education and the National Office of Drug Control Policy.
Now led by Rick Santorum himself, the primary pro-Santorum super PAC was widely credited with helping the underdog candidate stay in the race for as long as he did before eventually bowing out April 10, 2012. Given that the super PAC out-raised Santorum’s own campaign by over a million dollars, it is easy to understand why the Red, White and Blue fund was considered such a power during the GOP primary.
The primary funders of the super PAC were wealthy Wyoming investor Foster Friess — who donated a large chunk of the $537,000 that the Red, White and Blue Fund spent to help Santorum eke out an upset victory in the Iowa caucuses — and energy executive William Doré of Louisiana.
As the primary unfolded, Friess told the Center for Public Integrity that he would kick in $500,000 if it were matched by others who he solicited in a letter that went to 5,000 “sportsmen.” He made good on that promise, and by the end of March, his total contributions to the Red, White and Blue Fund exceeded $2 million.
“The Democrats will chew [Mitt] Romney up because of his patrician background,” Friess said in an interview with the Center, in explaining his support for Santorum over the former Massachusetts governor.
Friess and his family members have made more than $600,000 in federal contributions since the 2008 election cycle, all of it to Republican candidates and committees, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
During the past two decades, Friess and wife, Lynette, have given Santorum and his leadership PAC $57,000 — more money than they’ve given to any other federal candidate. The couple each gave $5,000 to Santorum and $5,000 to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for the 2012 election cycle. While Friess gave only $1,000 to Romney’s campaign, he ultimately gave the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future $100,000. In 2008, the couple each gave Romney the legal maximum of $2,300.
Friess, Doré and Annette Simmons, wife of super-donor Harold Simmons, rank as the only three people to have made seven-figure donations to the super PAC. The donation from Simmons resulted in a personal visit from Santorum to her home to thank her for the support.
Other notable donors include John Templeton, the head of the Templeton Foundation, who has donated $265,000; Chris A. Siepman of Liquid Capital Group, who donated $250,000; and Yonkers-based small arms manufacturer Kimber Manufacturing, which has contributed $200,000.
Facebook users reported “harassing” robocalls on Red, White and Blue’s Facebook page in late March and early April. Some said the automated, negative messages — which often sometimes came late at night and as often as four times a day — inspired them not to vote for Santorum.
Now that Santorum has withdrawn from the race, campaign finance experts say the super PAC can do “pretty much” anything it wants with its funds. On May 3, Politico reported that the Red, White and Blue Fund would become the new political platform for Santorum, who, in early May, endorsed Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning in the state’s GOP U.S. Senate primary in an email paid for by the super PAC. In May, the super PAC told the FEC that it was creating a second bank account, which would only accept limited contributions. With this bank account, it can give directly to candidates’ committees.
Red, White and Blue Fund still raised $120,000 in April despite Santorum’s withdrawal, with a full $100,000 coming from Tandy Mitchell, the chairman of Cinemark. In subsequent months, it continued to collect contributions, though in smaller numbers.
It has not made any independent expenditures since Santorum took leadership in May, though it reported an assortment of expenses for consulting services, travel and lodging costs and donations to other political committees.
- In Iowa, the super PAC produced a pro-Santorum ad entitled “Devoted.”
- In South Carolina, the super PAC produced a pro-Santorum ad entitled “Pride.”
- Its ad “Bold Plan” aired in Michigan.
- Its ad “Trust” aired in Missouri.
- “Meet the Real Mitt Romney” and “America’s Future,” both negative ads, contained several misleading facts, according to Factcheck.org.
Last updated: Jan. 17, 2013