By Sarah Pridgeon
Businessman and philanthropist Foster Friess of Jackson visited Sundance on Friday along his campaign tour of the northeast, during which he also stopped in Newcastle and Gillette. Friess is among the candidates for Wyoming Governor this year and says he would give the position his undivided attention.
“When I was younger, I worked very, very hard, so now I can work for you for free. [If elected,] I’m giving my four-year salary of half a million dollars away to various charities through the small towns of Wyoming,” Friess says.
“That’s important to you because it means I can’t be bought. I’m not taking any donations from political action committees or interests groups, just from individuals.”
What would you get from Friess if he were to be elected? He makes three promises.
“I promise to care about you, I promise to listen to you and I promise to work hard for you,” he lists.
Serving as governor, however, is not something Friess believes can be done properly solo.
“In my prior life, I managed $15 billion, which is not a one-man job. It’s very important to realize that being governor is not a one-man job, so I’m counting on people I meet and from the various industries to council me, guide me, coach me,” he says.
“That’s the only way we’re going to succeed.”
Among his objectives should he be elected, Friess pledges to work on getting the state budget under control and also has ideas in the realms of education and healthcare.
“I’ve been working actually for a couple of years on trying to encourage the federal government to send money to the states,” he says, explaining that funding Medicare and Medicaid in this way would allow the governors of each state to control how the money is spent.
“On the issue of education, I make the point that we have to make sure the teachers are the pinnacle of that education pyramid. What good is a hospital if you don’t have a doctor, and what good is a school if you don’t have a teacher?”
Friess is also taking the opportunity on his travels to stress the importance of openthebooks.com, a website that documents financial information at all levels of government.
“You can look at $52 trillion of checks that the federal government has signed since 2000,” he says.
Wyoming has not yet put all its numbers in, he says, but what has been added so far is enlightening.
“If we want to change the budget, we need to know what’s in it,” he says.
A first-generation college graduate, Friess and wife Lynn launched Friess Associates in 1974 after his retirement from the U.S. Army. He has devoted resources to philanthropy and in 2000 was named Humanitarian of the Year at the National Charity Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.
“In life, there’s the learning stage, the building stage and the serving stage,” he says.
“My wife Lynn and I, we don’t have any children to raise as all four are grown with 15 grandchildren, we don’t have any businesses to lead, we sold that years ago and we don’t have any calves to brand, so we can devote one hundred percent of our time to your needs.”