Newt Gingrich, Bought and Paid for?
Much has been made in the GOP campaign of Mitt Romney and his alleged tax shelters in foreign banks, and rightly so. If there is even a hint of impropriety it is an important issue for voters to consider.
In the case of Newt Gingrich, $10 million, the largest single contribution by far has been supplied by the controversial casino owner Sheldon Adelson, through the super pac Winning Our Future. Mr. Adelson has been under criminal investigation for the last year by the Department of Justice, as well as the Securities Exchange Commission for allegedly bribing Chinese foreign officials.
Sheldon Adelson has been embroiled in questionable political practices for quite some time. A more recent example in 2008 involved the licensing required for opening a casino/hotel on the island of Macao, China. According to court documents, Richard Suen, a Hong Kong businessman with connections to top Chinese officials contacted Las Vegas Sands executives in mid-2000 to alert them to openings in Macau's gambling market and the opportunities for American companies.
In a dispute involving Mr. Suen’s compensation for what amounted to near unrestricted access to the Chinese markets. Suen won a $43.8 million judgment against Adelson in November 2010, However, the Nevada Supreme Court overturned the judgment and returned the case to the lower court for further consideration. During the Suen trial information surfaced in which Bill Weidner, the president of Adelson's Las Vegas Sands company, testified he was present during a phone conversation where Adelson's friend, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R) spoke about about a bill proposed by Representative Tom Lantos (D) that would have prevented the U.S. Olympic Committee from voting in favor of the Chinese bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. A few hours later, DeLay called back and told Adelson he could tell the mayor of Beijing "this bill will never see the light of day" (excerpt taken from Wikipedia)
A second case was filed by a former executive of Adelson’s company alleged that Adelson ordered him to keep quiet about sensitive issues at the Sands casinos on the Chinese island of Macau, including the casinos’ alleged “involvement with Chinese organized crime groups, known as Triads, connected to the junket business.” The triads are allegedly involved in organizing high stakes gambling junkets for wealthy Chinese travelers.
Mr. Adelson is also a staunch supporter of Israel and has made enormous contributions to that effect. According to Newt Gingrich who was quoted in an NBC News article as saying “He (Addelson) knows I'm very pro-Israel. That's the central value of his life. I mean, he's very worried that Israel is going to not survive.” That statement seems innocuous enough but when coupled with a quote from Shelley Berkley, (a Nevada Democratic Party congresswoman and former employee of Adelson’s) made in The New Yorker that Adelson "seeks to dominate politics and public policy through the raw power of money" ones suspicions of Adelson's intent with such large contributions would seem to have great merit.
Adelson has had frequent run-ins with the press as well. In 2008 the Daily Mail of London accused him of pursuing "despicable business practices" and having "habitually and corruptly bought political favor". In 2011 the Israeli news Channel 10 alleged that Adelson had acquired a casino license in Las Vegas inappropriately through political connections.
With a man of this reputation and unlimited funds seeking such obvious political influence, one has to wonder how Newt Gingrich can claim to be any more ethically endowed than the other candidates. A contribution of $10 million dollars virtually guarantees that Adelson’s policy preferences will be at the top of the list of Newt Gingrich’s priorities should he become the president.
Aside from both men’s militaristic stance on the Israel/Palestine issue, (Gingrich has called the Palestinians an “invented people”.) Adelson seems to be taking full advantage of the landmark Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited campaign contributions by corporations. Essentially the court ruled that corporations have the same rights as any citizen. The decision has sparked outrage with a growing number of people, and has become a central issue in this year’s run up to the presidential elections.