The campaign cycle that just ended was the first full flowering of the weed that we call the Citizens United system of campaign finance — accidental, inexcusable, indefensible. But, it turns out, money can’t necessarily buy election victory.
Although he is currently ranked (by Forbes) as the 12th richest person in the world, casino billioinaire Sheldon Adelson was relatively obscure until he emerged this year as a bottomless of campaign funds for the presidential aspirations of Newt Gingrich. (During that phase, Adelson bankrolled a short film attempting to demonstrate that Mitt Romney had no chance to beat Pres. Obama.)
After the demise of the Gingrich campaign, Adelson became the largest donor to pro-Romney SuperPACs, at one point stating that there was no limit to what he was willing to spend to defeat Obama. Adelson also put his millions behind several congressional candidates. In a piece yesterday, the New York Times described him as “the biggest single donor in political history” with contributions totaling more than $60 million. The Times also noted that all eight candidates who benefitted from Adelson’s public-spirited generosity lost.
The piece was headlined: “Little to Show for Cash Flood by Big Donors.”
According to the Times, Karl Rove, who founded some of the SuperPACs through which a goodly hunk of the money was spent, consoled the donors by telling them that without their efforts, Romney would have lost by a larger margin.
Home Depot founder Kenneth Langone, one Romney’s top fund-raisers, told this to the Times: “All I can say is the American people have spoken.”