BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It is no secret that casino magnate and GOP super donor Sheldon Adelson’s DNA and bankroll is writ large over this year’s presidential election. From keeping the disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, to pledging as much as $100 million to defeat President Barack Obama, no one man has already had and will continue to have as big an influence over Election 2012.
During the GOP primaries, Adelson – who is worth just shy of $25 billion -- and his wife Miriam gave $21 million to Gingrich’s super PAC, “Winning Our Future,” which kept him alive long enough for conservatives to split their votes between Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, thus allowing Mitt Romney to ultimately cruise to victory in the primaries.
Adelson, who The New York Times reported is “the subject of a federal investigation into whether his company, Las Vegas Sands, bribed Chinese officials to help him expand into the mainland,” has already met several times with Romney and according to ABC News, he and his wife “have given at least $10 million to the pro-Romney super PAC, ‘Restore Our Future.’” According to The New York Times, Adelson “has pledged to spend as much as $100 million this year to defeat President Obama.” Adelson told Forbes magazine that his donation were “limitless.”
Is it a stretch to think that a Romney-appointed Justice Department just might shut down an Adelson investigation?
Only four days after being named Romney’s running mate, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan made the required pilgrimage to Adelson’s lair in Las Vegas, Nevada for a meeting at the Venetian hotel hosted by Adelson. According to The Hill, the Romney campaign barred the press from covering Ryan’s trip, “despite regularly allowing press to cover fundraising events.” However, the Romney campaign was calling the meet-up a “finance meeting,” not a fundraiser.
The New York Times reported that the meeting had a mums the word quality to it since Adelson has a “penchant for staying below the radar, [and] Romney aides refused to say who attended the meeting with … Ryan, though the location (a private room at one of Mr. Adelson’s hotels) and leaks from the Romney camp left little doubt.”
Adelson may have a “penchant for staying below the radar,” but he exhibited no such shyness last week when he filed a $60 million defamation suit against the National Jewish Democratic Council, over charges, repeated by the NJDC “that Adelson had approved of prostitution at his properties in Macau, China,” the JTA news service reported.
The Times also pointed out that “in keeping with laws that prohibit elected officials from explicitly asking donors for super PAC money,” Romney aides “insisted before the event that the meeting was not a fund-raiser. ‘It’s a finance event, not a fund-raiser,’ an aide told reporters. Asked if people were paying to attend, he repeated, ‘It’s a finance event, not a fund-raiser.’”
Romney and Adelson have warmed up to each other “in recent months through private meetings between the two — and by Romney’s appearance at a fund-raiser in Jerusalem last month attended by Adelson, who holds hawkish views in support of Israel,” The Times pointed out.
“Ryan’s connections to Mr. Adelson are looser — the casino magnate does not appear to have donated to Mr. Ryan’s campaigns or his political action committee — and his opinions on Israel and the Middle East peace process are less well defined.
“’It’s a safe bet Israel will come up,’ said one Republican donor in Las Vegas who is a friend of Adelson.
(As a side bar, it is more than interesting that leaders of the Religious Right, who have uniformly opposed gambling, have not said one word about Adelson’s massive contributions to the GOP.)
“Adelson, ironically, has made more money during the Obama administration than just about any other American, based on Forbes tabulations,” Forbes; Steve Bertoni pointed out in mid-June. “He had previously told me that just because he made money under Obama, it doesn’t mean he thinks the president is doing the right thing.”
Other than criticizing what he called the “socialist-style economy we’ve been experiencing for almost four years,” Adelson, who is vehemently against labor unions, is extremely concerned about the U.S.’s relationship with Israel. An Israel hawk that has donated millions of dollars to Jewish causes, Adelson appears more comfortable with Romney’s stated hawkish support for Israel.
Adelson also owns the free daily Hebrew-language Yisrael Hayom newspaper, a publication that unequivocally backs Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposes any peace settlement with the Palestinians.
ABC's Devin Dwyer reported that Obama for America is fundraising off Ryan's meeting with Adelson. Deputy Campaign Manager Julianna Smoot e-mailed supporters with a solicitation: "Today, just 72 hours after joining the GOP ticket, Paul Ryan is making a pilgrimage to the Sands' Venetian casino in Las Vegas to kiss the ring of Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate who's already donated more than $35 million to Republican groups in this election.”