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INSIGHT-Rivals set to pounce on Santorum's past=2

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 5 Jan 2012 02:35 GMT
Author: Reuters
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issues."

The most high-profile issue for the company recently has been the gas mining technique called hydrofracking, which critics allege has in some places polluted ground water.

Santorum sang the technique's praises at a campaign stop in Iowa, saying that in Pennsylvania "we are drilling, baby, drilling."

In addition, Santorum served on the board of a for-profit hospital chain, Universal Health Services (UHS), where he received ${esc.dollar}341,000 in compensation from 2007 to 2010.

During Santorum's four years on the board, UHS's McAllen, Texas, hospital group was sued for defrauding Medicare through "illegal compensation to doctors in order to induce them to refer patients to hospitals within the group," according to a Justice Department press release in 2009. The McAllen group agreed to settle the lawsuit by paying ${esc.dollar}27.5 million.

The next year, the Justice Department sued a Virginia UHS facility that caters to boys ages 11 to 17 alleging that the facility "billed Medicaid for inpatient psychiatric care that was not provided, in violation of federal and state Medicaid requirements, and falsified records to cover up their serious violations."

When asked about the Virginia case. Santorum told Yahoo News, "Any investigation, you obviously engage and fully cooperate with it, and that's what we did. that's part of the responsibility of directors."

He resigned from the UHS board in June 2011. During the third quarter of 2011, UHS reached a tentative financial settlement of the Virginia case. Allen Miller, president and CEO of UHS, is a longtime supporter of Santorum, who has contributed ${esc.dollar}6,850 to his campaigns and ${esc.dollar}11,000 to his leadership PAC since 1999.

America's Foundation is a leadership PAC, or political action committee, affiliated with Santorum since 1998. Leadership PACs were created so that congressional leaders could raise money for less senior candidates of their party, and they are not as closely monitored as other PACs by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Since 1998, America's Foundation has raised ${esc.dollar}11.8 million and given ${esc.dollar}1.1 million - or 9 percent to candidates, according to the Center For Responsive Politics. Most of the money has been spent on direct mail fundraising appeals on various issues.

Also during his 2006 reelection bid, Santorum's supporters created a different sort of political action group they named Softer Voices. As a "527" organization under Internal Revenue Service rules, Softer Voices was able to accept unlimited contributions from a small group of wealthy donors.

Because Santorum was struggling with women voters, the group created a website with testimonials from women. The FEC then chided the group for not registering as a political operation, and Softer Voices chose to cease operations.

IT TAKES A FAMILY

A devout Catholic with seven children, Santorum has taken positions on many social issues that may not play well with moderate voters and others that may trouble the conservative base.

He has vowed to reinstate the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy on gays in the military and annul all gay marriages, which are legal in New Hampshire, the site of the next Republican primary.

He opposes legal abortion, yet he supported a bill that allows it in the case of rape or incest or danger to the mother, telling David Gregory on Meet the Press last week that this was a calculated compromise to move toward the greater goal of ending abortion.

Similarly, he endorsed fellow Pennsylvanian, Sen. Arlen Specter, who is pro-choice, over anti-abortion primary challenger Pat Toomey in 2004. That move became even more offensive to conservatives when a victorious Specter went on to switch parties and cast a crucial vote for President Obama's health care plan.

Santorum has said his was a "political decision" based on his calculations of how to best influence upcoming Supreme Court appointments.

Santorum presents family values as the cornerstone of his political convictions. But here, too, his behavior might alienate as many voters as it attracts.

In 1996, after his wife, Karen, gave birth to a child who lived just two hours, the Santorums brought the dead baby Gabriel home to meet the other children, which Karen subsequently described in a book.

The Santorums are also proud homeschoolers. They moved to a Virginia suburb of Washington DC as soon as he was elected to the Senate in 1995, but still cost their Pennsylvania school district more than ${esc.dollar}100,000 because their children were enrolled in an online charter school based there from 2001-2005.

The district was required to pay the tuition of students who attended this type of school via the Internet. The state of Pennsylvania eventually covered some of these education costs. Santorum's defense was that he still owned a house in the district and paid property taxes. But this issue, too, became a factor in his ill-fated 2006 reelection campaign.

In that race, against Democrat Bob Casey, Jr., the attacks were coming so fast and furious that Santorum decided to issue a pamphlet, titled "50 Things You May Not Know About Rick Santorum." (http://link.reuters.com/gyg85s)

In an effort to soften his image as a hard-line social conservative, it touted Santorum's efforts to raise the minimum wage, expand stem-cell research, battle AIDS, guarantee Social Security benefits, protect Food Stamps, and increase funding for the Head Start preschool program. It also advocated passing tough new lobbying laws

The pamphlet no longer appears on any of Santorum's websites, and its claims often appear at odds with his behavior in Congress - where, for example, he advocated privatizing social security and condemned federal funding for stem cell research.

But in the overheated climate of today's opposition research, it is likely to provide ammunition to Santorum's opponents on both his left and his right. (Editing by Lee Aitken and Derek Caney)

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