Saturday, June 16, 2012

McCain: Foreign cash sneaking in via super PACs

I appreciate John McCain the man they call Maverick for calling out the glaring problem with the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that gave life to the beast known as the Super PAC.  And in particular McCain calls out the candidate he just endorsed for benefiting from questionable donations from a billionaire willing to donate $100 million of his own cash to help elect Romney.    McCain: Foreign cash sneaking in via super PACs. 
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. John McCain said in an interview posted online Friday that "foreign money" was helping fellow Republican Mitt Romney's presidential hopes and singled out one of his ally's most generous supporters.
McCain, the GOP's 2008 presidential nominee, suggested casino magnate Sheldon Adelson's $10 million contribution to a pro-Romney super PAC was a conduit for Adelson to use profits from properties in Macau to shape American elections. McCain also criticized the Supreme Court ruling that allows individuals and corporations to make such unlimited donations to nominally independent political action committees.

Now Adelson isn't your typical billionaire political contributor.  The businesses that earn him the billions are casinos in Macau in the People's Republic of China and in Las Vegas.  Not just anyone can get a gambling license in Macau, you have to know somebody.   Adelson was awarded the gambling license to operate in China after helping defuse House GOP opposition to the Beijing Olympics back in 2001.  Since then, his casino and personal fortune have done quite well.  $25 billion and counting.

Here are some snips about Adelson.

Sheldon Adelson:  Scout's Honor.

Part of Adelson’s Chinese dealings, which came under federal scrutiny in 2011, went through a non-profit called the Adelson Center for U.S.-China Enterprise. According to a WikiLeaks cable flagged by Salon, the association, which was meant to facilitate business between the U.S. and China, was shut down by the Chinese government after some “missteps” with “funds transfer mechanisms” used by Las Vegas Sands... 
Gingrich told NBC News that Adelson puts a priority on far-right policies on Israel. Adelson opposed the American Israeli Affairs Committee — threatening to withdraw financial support  when the group backed a Bush administration-led peace process in 2007...
Adelson’s right-wing views on Israel have, at times, descended into bigotry against Palestinians, who he thinks do not have legitimate aspirations to a state of their own...

These views from Adeslon are diametrically opposed to the ones Romney says he espouses,  Namely a "get tough on China" policy and a Two-State solution for Israel and the Palestinians.  We'll see what influence  $100 million buys as Romney's positions morph along the campaign trail.

And what makes the idea of Adelson shoveling gambling profits from China into into Romney's campaign more troubling is that Adelson already has a history of becoming embroiled in bribery scandals in China related to his casino operations there. How casinos do business in Macau
Last year, Sands disclosed that it is under federal investigation into whether it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribery to enter foreign markets. Steve Jacobs, the former head of Sands’ Macau unit, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the casino operator. The suit alleges Jacobs warned company officials that the use of the outside legal adviser, Leonal Alves, “posed serious risks” to Sands because of the federal law barring U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials.
So Sheldon and his supporters can't get too sanctimonious when people start questioning if his windfall profits from China are owed to entrepreneurship and business acumen, or to political opportunism and  payola of one form or another.

Its ironic that billionaires with sub-optimized ethics like Sheldon Adelson can inject unlimited millions into American politics thanks to a Supreme Court decision with such a patriotic sounding name.. Citizen's United.   I can't think of many better ways to undermine our Republic than to let agents of foreign nations to pump millions into our campaigns.

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