Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has already given the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future $21 million this year. Now, as his preferred candidate flounders in the polls, Adelson is floating the possibility of donating an additional $100 million.
A political contribution of that magnitude from a single source would be absolutely unprecedented. The next largest single contribution — a mere $5 million that “singlehandedly revived Gingrich’s campaign” last month — came from Adelson as well. All super PACs combined have raised $98.5 million this cycle, less than the possible $100 million Adelson check.
With net worth estimated at approximately $25 billion, Adelson is the eighth richest person in the United States. When asked if uber-wealthy plutocrats making political purchases of this magnitude was fair, he offered this response:
“I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections,” he shrugs. “But as long as it’s doable I’m going to do it.”
Setting aside Adelson’s Orwellian hypocrisy, progressives could not have said it better themselves. They are not only opposed to rich people buying elections, but also against it being perfectly legal to do so.
Indeed, one need look no further than Gingrich’s rhetoric and policy proposals in the Middle East to see where Adelson is receiving a return on his investment. For nearly two decades, Adelson has lobbied for an extremely controversial proposal to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Now, Gingrich has said he will do so on his very first day as president. Adelson has also lauded Gingrich’s characterization of Palestinians as “an invented people.”
Individuals should not be permitted to buy public policy in this country, yet our campaign system post-Citizens United and the rise of super PACs permits them such undue influence. As long as unlimited political contributions remain legal, billionaires like Adelson will continue to take advantage of the system.