Bloomberg put out an opinion piece praising Sheldon Adelson this week for, if nothing else, being open about his political involvement in an age when secret money is increasingly becoming the norm. Bloomberg View editorial board member Francis Wilkinson writes:
Adelson has a list of political axes to grind, ranging from tax rates (he wants them lower) to U.S. policy toward Israel (he opposes a two-state solution with Palestine). He is not shy about his feelings: He wants a Republican in the White House, and he's spending tens of millions to get one.
Some of Adelson's Obama-hating billionaire colleagues and corporate allies, by contrast, are too demure to operate in the open. Instead, these fragile blossoms contribute anonymously to groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS (which may be a recipient of Adelson largesse, as well) or to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which acts increasingly like a coordinated arm of the Republican Party.
I have to agree with the op-ed: Sheldon Adelson plays a very important part in the story of political money. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a better caricature of what is wrong with the current system.
Adelson, who is worth $25 billion, owns the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which gets 90 percent of its income from casinos in China and Singapore. That company happens to be under investigation for mob ties, prostitution, and bribery. The company is also currently under investigation by the Department of Justice for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Thanks to the zero percent tax rate in Macau, Adelson’s company as a whole only pays 9.8 percent in taxes (President Obama has proposed measures to fix this loophole, although they’ve been blocked by Republicans).
But most of all, Adelson embodies exactly the type of person we don’t want dictating policy. His personal wealth is nearly 375,000 times the average household. His $10 million dollar donations hit his wallet about as hard as a $25 dollar donation does for an average person. It’s ridiculous to imagine that this kind of influence will lead to anything but government that is more responsive to the Adelsons of the world and their special interests, and less responsive to average working families.
So thanks, Mr. Adelson, for illustrating precisely why we need reform.