Santorum honors his biggest donor with philanthropy award

At CPAC, the failed presidential candidate honors Foster Friess' generosity in funding his campaign

Topics: Rick Santorum, CPAC, cpac 2013, Citizens United,

Santorum honors his biggest donor with philanthropy awardRick Santorum (Credit: AP/Michael Conroy)

Some people see unlimited spending in the post-Citizens United world of campaign finance as a threat to democracy. At CPAC, it’s called philanthropy and you get an award for it.

After Rick Santorum finished his otherwise uneventful speech at the conservative conference Friday afternoon, CPAC Chairman Al Cardenas came out to announce that he and Santorum were going to hand out a brand-new award for conservative philanthropy. The recipient, it turned out, was Foster Friess, the conservative billionaire who almost single-handily financed Santorum’s presidential campaign with his own private super PAC.

Thus, there was an odd scene on the main stage here where Friess received an award from Santorum in honor of his donations to Santorum. Friess funds other conservative causes as well, including a reportedly sizable investment in the Daily Caller website.

In a bit of unintended irony, Santorum said in his speech just moments earlier that the problem with the left is that they’re always looking for handouts. “If all we do this weekend is offer Americans more stuff in hopes that it will dull their pain, we, America, will lose. Let’s face it: The left will always offer more stuff, and make it seem like they care more.”



Friess, a jovial elder statesman of the social conservative movement with a penchant for getting himself in trouble by voicing his paleolithic social views, accepted the award gratefully and couldn’t help but offer one of his trademark jokes.

The other day, he said, his wife told told him, “Honey, I’m having an affair.” He replied, “Well, are you gonna have it catered?” The crowd laughed politely.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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