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Billionaire Sheldon Adelson will give 'limitless' support to Romney

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose net worth is estimated $24.9 billion and who was the chief financial backer of Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign just donated $10 million to one of the pro-Romney SuperPACs.  Forbes today quotes a source close to Adelson who says Adelson believes that “no price is too high” to protect the U.S. from what Adelson sees as Obama’s “socialization” of America, as well as securing the safety of Israel.

While the Gingrich campaign was alive, Adelson's money funded ads portraying Mitt Romney as a heartless job-killer. But now that Gingrich is out and Romney is the only guy that can prevent a second Obama term, the source says Adelson's willingness to support Romney is "limitless."

This level of giving is, of course, made possible by the Citizens United decision, which was based on Justice Anthony Kennedy's belief that such spending by "independent" SuperPACs could occur without "coordination" with the candidate's own campaign.

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Comments (28)

Socialism? He's worried

Socialism? He's worried about socialism?

What an ass. He's opening one of the largest casinos in the world in Macau, a part of the world's biggest socialist country, China. Billions of dollars in tax revenues going directly to the Chinese government.

Who is then materially supporting socialism?

His support for Romney is instructive in what an "up for sale" government Romney will produce and an indication of new and dangerous postures the US will be forced into with respect to Israel and the rest of the world..

His types

define socialism as paying taxes.

Socialism is defined as a

Socialism is defined as a society that takes of people they don't know or care about.

Just the most recent example…

…of the logical silliness of the Citizens United decision. All those of us who are non-billionaires can hope for, if we want a political process that is even a faint shadow of “honest,” is for states and the courts at both state and federal levels to insist on disclosure, so we'll at least know who's contributing what, and to whom. Here in Minnesota, that appears to be a shaky proposition, but not altogether out of the question just yet.

In the meantime, there’s little reason to expect anything other than what Eric is reporting here. In every human society that has ever existed, the wealthy have done whatever they could to protect their privileged position, whether through financing the king, ruling as an oligarchy, or in the U.S., buying (…excuse me, …“influencing”) votes. It’s true for every point on the political and ideological spectrum.

Suspicions of Obama’s “socialist” tendencies are laughable, of course, and proof of the degree of paranoia on the right, but some of the rhetoric directed at Romney’s campaign from the left is also over-the-top. He’s simply a member of the one percent, trying to protect the interests of his fellow one-percenters, and since he can afford it, he can hire the best “message-makers” in the ad kingdom to shape his political message so that plenty of other people who’ll never have anything in common with the one percent will vote for him anyway. That this race – the candidate of the rich versus the candidate of everyone else – is in any way a close one is something that historians will marvel at in centuries to come

I don’t really know anything about that club of one-percenters from personal acquaintance, so I don’t know who the other members might be, but I assume there are members who lean to the left instead of to the right, in which case they’ll take advantage of the same loopholes and Citizens United decision to push their own viewpoint. What I’ve read suggests pretty strongly that there are far more one-percenters who lean to the right than to the left – it’s pretty easy to convince yourself that you deserve your wealth, however much of it you might have – so if the support of people like Mr. Adelson is going to be “limitless” for the candidate of the one percent, the only viable Democratic alternative is to organize, organize, organize, and do all they can to make up for millions in large donations from a handful of people by raising equivalent millions via small donations from a LOT of people.

I vaguely recall reading somewhere that the presidential race in 2008 cost somewhere around $270 million, or about $1 million per citizen. Sadly, this year’s race promises to be far more expensive.

I’d argue that money should absolutely NOT be the determining factor in a political race, but the facts on the ground suggest otherwise.

"All those of us who are non-billionaires can hope for,

if we want a political process that is even a faint shadow of 'honest'..." is that the electorate can become a little more thoughtful. Think of it, all of this (justified) hand-wringing about money in politics ... and it wouldn't make a bit of difference if the electorate were reasonably aware and reasonably thoughtful. Then, a billion dollars' worth of propaganda wouldn't change a single vote.

PS Ray - Your comments are generally thoughtful, but all too often you go and ruin them with what you think is the obligatory "both sides do it" thing. Both sides don't do it.

It's not obligatory

Well, yes. I guess I take the idea of thoughtful, even minimally-informed voters as an antidote to all the propaganda we'll have to suffer through between now and November as something of a given. And yes, if voters in general weren't swayed by outright lies and distortions that appeal to emotion and prejudice, the amount of money poured into political contests wouldn't make much difference. Unfortunately, this is a culture raised on advertising and the sound byte, so "informed" is a too-flexible term nowadays. People who read political commentary and articles about subjects related to governance, and not just from a single viewpoint, seem to be very much in the minority.

Sorry to ruin the comments for you, but my experience is that both sides DO "do it." By a very wide margin in recent years, those on the right far more frequently buy influence and dominate the discourse, such as it is, with dollars and propaganda, but that doesn't mean Democrats don't occasionally try to do the same thing. I'm not striving for some sort of artificial balance – I think the Republican Party has been taken over by neofascist loonies – but that doesn't automatically mean that political rhetoric that leans in my direction can't be just as factually-challenged and over-the-top. It doesn't happen very often, but it DOES happen, and a spade is a spade is a spade.

Really? That's your math?

It's pretty hard to take anything in Ray's argument seriously when he says that $270 million equals "about $1 million per citizen."

In fact, the total 2008 Presidential campaign spending was about $2.4 billion, or about $8 per citizen. (The total for ALL campaigns that year - including presidential and congressional candidates, parties and interest groups was about $5.3 billion, or about $17 per citizen. These figures are from a POLITICO article, Nov. 5, 2008.) And that total doesn't represent the level of advertising, that's ALL campaign expenses such as travel, salaries, office rent, etc. Actual ad spending is well south of that total, estimated at $2.6-$2.8 billion.

For some perspective, that's about HALF the money than Verizon, Sprint and AT&T spent together that year to advertise cell phone service. Is anyone decrying the influence of "big cell phone money" on American society?

Total U.S. ad spending - on everything from cars to potato chips to shampoo - this year is going to be around $150 billion. Do you really object if 2-3% of that money is used for discussing the political future of our country? (Ad figures from marketingcharts.com.)

Look, I get tired of all the negative ads and the saturation ad buys the last few weeks of the cycle, and I'm not saying that every ad is a high-brow discussion of the issues, but if you don't like it, turn off the TV and radio. And you're going to need a better reason than "I don't like millionaires" if you want to put yourself in the position of LIMITING political speech.

As others have written, the antidote to free speech you don't like is MORE free speech, not searching for ways to gag your opponents.

One more piece of unintentional comedy in this piece: Ray refers to the presidential race as "the candidate of the rich versus the candidate of everyone else." The same day you wrote that, the candidate of "everyone else" was at Sarah Jessica Parker's home, collecting $40,000 per person for the campaign. This was a few days after showing up at George Clooney's house for another $40,000 per person event that netted $15 million. Yeah, he's a real "man of the people."

Next time, instead of relying in things you "vaguely recall" or "assume," bring a few facts to the table.

Harakiri

Nothing like a little public humiliation to clear the sinuses…

Mr. Droogsma is quite correct about the math, and I am, at least in this instance, mathematically incompetent. My original figure of $270 million spent on the presidential race in 2008 was something I remembered from a magazine article that I probably read in the year or so after the election. I was a large enough number to have stuck in my memory, but even a second-grader should know that $270 million divided by 270 million people is about $1 per person, not $1 million per person.

Mea Culpa. Maxima mea culpa.

For the record, and just to remind myself of my mistake, I set up a little spreadsheet to do the math for Mr. Droogsma's number: $2.6 billion, and, to be conservative, assuming a population of 300 million people. The result is $8.67 per person, so HIS math is impeccable. Mine was abysmal.

As for the rest, I'm well aware that Mr. Obama is a millionaire – that's public knowledge, since presidential incomes are routinely in the news every year at about tax time – and I'm not an Obama loyalist, particularly. Compared to Mr. Romney's plutocracy, however, Mr. Obama is an outright amateur, and – this is the stuff of which political campaigns are made – I'd argue that he's a lot closer to being a "man of the people" than a capitalist who inherited millions, and whose idea of being a "man of the people" is to proudly state that, while he doesn't really know any of the drivers on the NASCAR circuit, he does know several of the owners.

I absolutely agree that the antidote for a political message I don't like is an antithetical political message. Unfortunately, the current society gets much of its information via television, which is far more friendly to the corporate viewpoint than anything antithetical, and which is the recipient of the majority of the truckloads of money spent on national and statewide political campaigns. Since money buys time on TV, it's money that determines which message gets the most exposure. While I'd like everyone to be a more informed voter, I doubt that that's going to happen by November, so money will determine which message gets the most prominent play on TV for this election cycle, as well.

Of course the Constitution guarantees right wing millionaires the right to buy as much TV time in support of their causes as they want. I have no interest in limiting "free speech," and disclosure doesn't limit speech, it merely identifies the speaker, or perhaps more accurately, who's paying for the speaker.

Apology accepted, but....

Ray - It's nice of you to take responsibility for the error, and hopefully you'll do the same for the latest one.

You describe Romney as "a capitalist who inherited millions." In fact, as you can read in Politifact, Romney earned his own money. He did receive a modest inheritance from his father, but donated it to charity. You can read the Politifact article here:

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/jan/20/mitt-romn...

I'm not going to argue that, as the son of a governor and CEO, Mitt didn't have some advantages in life - not many of us are given a car as a wedding present - but his current wealth is made up of money he earned in the business world, not from any inheritance.

Question

Are your numbers based on 'official' campaign spending, or do they include 'issue' spending by third party PAC's? Of course, the latter was a lot less than in 2010, and will in turn be much greater (and less accountable) in 2012.

SCOTUS term limits

Much as a regret it, this is a good argument for terms limits on the Supreme Court.
Justice Kennedy is clearly loosing touch with reality.

Yeah But

What then is Roberts' excuse? Or Scalia?

They're

inexcusable.
There's a difference between cynicism and naivete.

Oh, so what

$10 million is a drop in the bucket. No one on the Left seemed to care when Obama outspent John McCain by 2:1 in 2008 and promised an unprecedented $1 billion campaign this year. I guess money only matters when the other guy has more than you do.

Campaign finance laws were passed by the democrats in the early 70s as an attempt to neutralize the effects of republican money. But Gene McCarthy's run for president in 1968 was essentially totally financed by three rich guys, a fact he never apologized for. In fact, decades later the press and the democrats tried to get him to express regret for it and help them champion taxpayer-financed elections but he'd have no part of it.

I remember watching a long interview with him on C-SPAN back in the 90s where the journalist was shocked at McCarthy's refusal to back down from his belief that government had no right to control campaign donations or spending. It was hilarious as the interviewer just assumed that McCarthy would follow the party line.

Like most people, he apparently forgot that McCarthy was a plaintiff in Buckley v. Valeo in 1976 in which the Supreme Court ruled that spending money to influence elections is a form of constitutionally protected free speech. Which only proves that back in the day, even some democrats were principled constitutionalists.

a drop in the bucket?

The problem is that the wealthy can speak more effectively than the rest of us. Money is not speech and corporations are not people. Adelson will keep giving. $10 million is just the start.

This report from Politico indicates that the Koch brothers will exceed their goal of $395 million in contributions to conservative candidates. Is that a drop in the bucket? http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=2D316FDA-68AB-4826-A61A-20A8...

It does not matter whether the rich are supporting Democrats or Republicans. It is just undemocratic and it threatens freedom.

Joseph Stiglitz recently wrote: "Consider the Walton family: the six heirs to the Wal-Mart empire command wealth of $69.7 billion, which is equivalent to the wealth of the entire bottom 30 percent of U.S. society."

So what did the Walton kids do to EARN that power?

Is it wrong for six families to have more wealth than the bottom 100,000,000 Americans? Can a democracy survive that?

Stiglitz also pointed out that "In the “recovery” of 2009–2010, the top 1 percent of American income earners captured 93 percent of the income growth." Is this the result of President Obama's socialistic policy? Is it fair? I mean how do you rig a society to come out with that result?

We need public financing of elections and provide constitutional protections to human beings and not extend them to corporations.

"So what did the Walton kids do to EARN that power?"

In a free society, no one has to answer that question. But you don't want a free society, you want an equal society and they're not the same thing. Only through the force of government can a society be made equal and that's not what this nation is all about.

Freedom

Mr. Tester, I do not want an equal society, but a more equal one than we have now. We are at historic levels of inequality. It has been more than one hundred years since were this unequal. I know of no one is calling for a perfectly equal society, but it seems fair to ask how we became this unequal, that the consequences of the inequality are, and how we can more back toward greater equality.

Crimes against logic

Mr. Tester, I've been reading Mr. Black's posts and the accompanying comments for some time now and although I sometimes agree with your posts - one example was your excellent recommendations for how to effectively decrease our military spending and presence in the world - most often, your comments lack valid logical analysis. Simply stating, as you often do, that "the other guys do it, too," doesn't make something right, ethical, or even constitutional just because the Supreme Court says so does it? (The current Court's interpretation of the Second Amendment, for example, completely disregards the interpretation other, more thoughtful courts upheld for decades, and I very seriously doubt that the framers would EVER have considered corporations the equivalent of citizens.)

I recommend you read Jamie Whyte's excellent book "Crimes Against Logic: Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists, and other Serial Offenders." In fact, I recommend that pretty much EVERYONE read it. You may not like his examples, but you will be a better thinker for the experience.

What do *real* socialists think of Obama?

Go to www.socialistworker.org and find out. Hint: They don't like him very much.

When both sides

think that you belong to the other side you must be doing something right.

Gene McCarthy was wrong if he thought . . .

money equals free speech. The Supreme Court is wrong. Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United need to be overruled or the Constitution amended if this country is to avoid becoming a permanent fascist plutocracy.

Advertising is inherently false speech, which any speech which is not designed "to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth" is going to be. During the 1970's, before the hack job that is Buckley v. Valeo, our right wing Supreme Court decided to overrule long established precedent that had recognized advertising as "commercial speech" , sort of similar to speech concerning art, politics, etc. but, since it was "for profit", it was subject to regulation as any other economic activity as in time, place, etc. That difference was based on the reality that "speech for profit" is inherently subject to fraud and abuse, something we still recognize by having laws against "false advertising" when it gets truly out of hand.

It should come as no surprise that we have come to the state we are today where wealthy individuals and corporations have more free speech rights than the rest of us. The rest of us have to be content with protesting in our own back yards, if we have one, and as long as we don't disturb the neighbors. The state and the US Supreme Court have forbidden dissent and free speech in public places unless they are "public forums". Free speech for we the people is being legislated and regulated and adjudicated out of existence. The First Amendment is first and foremost supposed to protect "freedom of thought", not the freedom of lies, as in advertising. Especially not "political advertising."

Well, if you think that

"Free speech for we the people is being legislated and regulated and adjudicated out of existence" then you should be agreeing with me that the solution is MORE free speech, not less.

The First Amendment was written primarily to protect political speech. It's unfortunate that the cost of delivering political speech is being controlled by the media's ad rates.

And it's always amazed me why the Left, with their disdain for capitalism and making a profit, didn't translate that belief with a demand that the privately-held media companies should print and broadcast political speech for free. That would indeed "take the money out of politics" even if it did hurt the Left's allies in the process.

On that . . .

I think we actually can agree.

I think having an FCC license to use the public airwaves, or the right, as cable companies do, to exercise the sovereign power of eminent domain, ought to be conditioned on the access of political candidates to free air-time. But guess what? The right-wing US Supreme Court has ruled that media corporations have a "free speech right" to deny such access. Like FCC "must carry" rules which were invalidated in the 1980's. Or like public utilities, which have monopolies and exercise sovereign powers of eminent domain, do not have to include public service notices or announcements from consumer or environmental groups. Once again, corporate First Amendment rights trump the First Amendment rights of individuals.

Well, since no one else cares to do so,

I'll go ahead and take the stand that spending money to influence elections, without constraints, absolutely is not constitutionally protected free speech. That is precisely the error of Citizens' United. The thread of the Supreme Court's free speech cases over two centuries is that political speech is at the core of 1st Amendment free speech protection because the core purpose of free speech is to enable a people to govern itself democratically. Constitutional jurisprudence states that a compelling state interest is adequate justification to constrain a constitutionally enshrined freedom. Free private spending on political speech, in the present environment of profoundly concentrated wealth and a profoundly distracted and manipulable electorate, means the end of the possibility of democracy, period. In Constitutional free speech terms preventing this is the most compelling state interest that there can be. I would assert that strict limits on private spending on elections and a strong public role in establishing a framework for campaigns that does not privilege wealth and vested interests, in fact, are constitutionally compelled.

You mean that we don't

have the best Supreme Court that money can buy?

Nonsense

That would be true if wealth was concentrated on one political side, but it's not. Obama has promised to raise and spend $1 billion on his campaign and has been holding sold-out $40,000 a plate dinners in New York and Hollywood over the past two weeks.

Where was the outrage and concern over "profoundly concentrated wealth" when Obama out-spent McCain by 2:1 in 2008? It was non-existant.

Given a choice between more free speech or less, your desire to shut down Fox News notwithstanding, we'd all be well advised to choose more.

Please provide a citation

of a statement advocating shutting down Fox news.

No, Mr Tester, let me suggest

That you are captive to your own assumptions - i.e., that all is a battle between Republicans and Democrats. All of the wealth in fact IS concentrated on one side: on the side of wealth. My comment does not concern Republicans vs Democrats. It concerns the interests of the small part of the population to which both parties are captive, as against the interests of the rest of us. Neither party can put forward a candidate for president that will not protect the interests of the former, even where they are directly contrary to the interests of the latter. And that is to a large extent the result of equating free speech with dollars. The constitutional understanding, from the "founding fathers" thru time until Buckley and Citizens United, is that free speech exists to serve democracy. In Buckley and Citizens United, the Supreme Court has decided that where free speech conflicts with democracy, democracy must bow.