Opinion: John Templeton Jr. goes after Barack Obama, gay marriage

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The world of big campaign donors is small.

A relative handful of the truly big donors give to an array of causes.

One is John Templeton Jr., a Pennsylvania physician who is the son of the founder of Templeton Mutual Funds. He started out the presidential campaign backing Mitt Romney, but now is in John McCain’s camp, and has given more than $100,000 to federal campaigns since 2007.

Templeton also is playing in California. He is the second-largest individual donor supporting Proposition 8, the initiative to ban same-sex marriage in California by creating a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Now, Templeton is taking on Barack Obama. He donated $800,000 of a $1.3-million ad purchase to an independent campaign group, Let Freedom Ring.


The spot airing in swing states -- Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, Colorado and Virginia -- lauds McCain for trying to “blow the whistle on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” and criticizes Obama for taking money from both institutions.

Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, which is based in Pennsylvania, said there is “a finite number of people you can go to” to raise money. The souring economy adds to the challenge. But the fact that the election is near helps open wallets.

Why does Templeton give?

“He is a patriot who cares about the future of this country and this is what is at stake in this election,” Hanna said.

When not handing out campaign contributions, Templeton heads a $1.2-billion family foundation that funds organizations that seek to answer “what scientists and philosophers call the Big Questions,” the foundations says on its website.

The foundation has given millions to conservative groups, free market-oriented think tanks and institutions, including the University of California and Stanford University, to advance religious studies.

-- Dan Morain

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