Republican major donor Foster Friess dies at 81

Foster Friess, a Wyoming businessman who founded an investment firm, made his fortune and donated much of it to Republican presidential candidates and charities, sometimes with flair, died Thursday in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 81 years old.

His organization, Foster’s Outriders, which confirmed the death, said he was treated there at the Mayo Clinic for myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood cell and bone marrow disorder.

Governor Mark Gordon of Wyoming, who defeated Mr. Friess in the Republican governor’s primary in 2018, writing on Twitter, called Mr. Friess “a strong and consistent voice of Republican and Christian values.”

Mr Friess’ race for governor was his only attempt at a major elected post. In the political arena, he was best known for his gifts, especially for the presidential offers of Rick Santorum, the former US Senator from Pennsylvania, during the 2012 and 2016 campaigns. After Mr. Santorum left the race of 2016, Mr. Friess became one of the first Republican megadoners to embrace Donald J. Trump.

But for many, the most important support Mr. Friess, an evangelical Christian, and his wife, Lynnette, provided was to charities. Foster’s Outriders and the Lynn and Foster Friess Family Foundation have provided scholarships, funded work for the homeless, supported water projects in Africa and more. His organization said Mr. Friess donated $ 500 million during his lifetime.

His 70th birthday in 2010 in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Where he lived much of the year, was a legend. The wyofile.com website described it.

“In the party invitations, Friess, a born again Christian, asked guests to identify their favorite charity that reflected the values ​​of her favorite Galatians quote: ‘Bear each other’s burdens, and this way you will fulfill the law of Christ, ”he wrote in 2011.“ He promised to give $ 70,000 to the most worthy candidate. “

When the time came to announce the winner, the waiters at the Four Seasons Resort, where the party was being held, handed out envelopes to the guests.

“Friess asked the lucky winner to stand up and shout, and the other guests to stay seated,” the story continued. “Then he sat down and waited for the chaos.

As people opened the envelopes, someone at each table stood up and shouted, “I won!” He had funded each request, at a cost of $ 7.7 million.

Foster Stephen Friess was born April 2, 1940 in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Her father, Albert, was a rancher and her mother, Ethel (Foster) Friess, was a housewife.

“I came from nothing,” he told the New York Times in 2018 during his campaign for governor, when asked if he could himself be considered one of the “elites” against which he opposed. “My mother dropped out of eighth grade to pick cotton and save the family farm. My father went to high school.

He graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a business administration degree and served in the military as an intelligence officer for a guided missile brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas.

After working in finance for several years, he founded investment management firm Friess Associates in 1974 and was quickly regarded as a premier stock picker. Its flagship asset, the Brandywine Fund, has reached over $ 15 billion. He sold a controlling stake in Friess Associates to the Group of Affiliated Managers in 2001.

Politically, Mr Friess did more than support the candidates. In 2010, he was a founding investor in The Daily Caller’s Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel Conservative News and Opinion website.

In 2012, Mr Friess backed Mr Santorum not so much because he agreed with all of his policies – “I’m trying to talk him out of it,” he told broadcaster Lou Dobbs in February. 2012 – but because he thought the Republican Party needed a New Face.

“Those old veteran warhorses, they have a hard time doing it,” he said on “Lou Dobbs tonight.” “Dole couldn’t do it, McCain couldn’t do it. On the Democratic side, Gore couldn’t do it and Kerry couldn’t do it. So the Democrats bring these new faces, they bring Carter out of nowhere, they bring Clinton out of nowhere, they bring Obama out of nowhere.

Later that month, Mr. Friess made headlines when, on MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell asked him whether Mr. Santorum’s statements about “the dangers of contraception” would hurt his campaign.

“In my day,” Mr. Friess said, “they used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The girls put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that expensive.

Mr. Santorum’s primary campaign started off strong but sank, and Mr. Obama was elected to a second term, beating Mitt Romney.

In the next presidential campaign, Mr Friess also backed Mr Santorum at the start. In mid-2015, as the Republican field was stifled by candidates and the level of villainy increased, he called on candidates not to “stray from the civility reserve.”

In May 2016, with Mr Santorum out of the race and Mr Trump securing the Republican nomination, Mr Friess threw out his support for the Trump cause, while acknowledging that Mr Trump had moved forward by showing very incivility. he had decried – something he hoped would change into a more presidential tenor.

“Donald’s strategy seems to be working,” Mr. Friess told CNN that month, “but I’m confident he’s going to change.”

Mr. Friess has supported Mr. Trump throughout his administration, and when he ran for governor the Trump family tried to reciprocate – the president’s son Donald Jr. endorsed him. in an opinion piece in The Star Tribune of Casper, Wyo. President Trump himself was quieter, although he offered a Twitter post at the end of the pro-Mr. Friess campaign. Mr Gordon’s victory was cited by some as proof of Mr Trump’s vulnerability, although others saw it more as a local issue.

Three weeks ago, when Darin Smith, a lawyer and businessman who claimed Mr. Trump had “probably” won the 2020 election, announced he would challenge Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who criticized Mr. Trump, in the 2022 primaries he said Mr. Friess would be his campaign chair.

Mr. Friess’ wife of 58 years, Lynnette Estes Friess, survives him, as do their four children, Traci, Stephen, Carrie and Michael; one brother, Herman; and 15 grandchildren.


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