Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fun Facts About Newt's $10 Million Dollar Man

1. Sheldon Adelson has made two donations totaling $10 million to Newt Gingrich's Super PAC.

2. According to Forbes, Adelson is the 8th richest man in America. He is also the self-proclaimed "richest Jew"in the world.

3. He made his fortune in the casino biz and he is the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands corporation.

Campaign finance experts indicate Adelson's individual contributions are among the largest in American history. Should we care? Hell yes.

I acknowledge the fact that there is likely no getting the money out of politics, but I don't accept that the first amendment protects the rights of individuals, corporations, and unions to make UNLIMITED donations in support of a single candidate. But, that's the law since the Supreme Court handed down a ruling known as "Citizens United" in January 2010.

This landmark judicial decision prohibits government from putting limitations on "independent" campaign spending, meaning people and corporations cannot dump their cash directly into a campaign's coffers, but they can contribute whatever they want to a candidate's Super PAC. Super PACs, which are legally unaffiliated with formal campaigns, often operate for the sole purpose of supporting a single candidate, and they are typically run by political operatives who are former employees of a candidate's campaign team.

The "Citizens United" ruling overturned decades of campaign finance law, and blew a giant hole in the structure that existed to ensure singular donors, individual or corporate, did not wield undue influence in the political process.

Because of the "Citizens" decision, one man - Sheldon Adelson - can legally spend as much as he wants to prop up the ailing presidential bid of a candidate who wasn't able to drum up enough legit popular support on his own. Adelson donated $5 million dollars to Gingrich's Super PAC to float him through the South Carolina primary, and thru his wife, he has recently done the same to help Gingrich compete in Florida.

As much as I would like to fault Gingrich for this ludicrous turn of events, the reality is Newt is functioning within the boundaries of campaign finance law. And with a wealthy opponent like Mitt Romney, who readily spends millions of his own dollars campaigning, Gingrich has little choice but to seduce billionaire sugar daddies of his own.

The ultimate culprit here is not the individual politicians who take advantage of the "Citizens United" ruling (although some clearly do it better than others), but the system of Super PACs and the Supreme Court decision that allows this kind of political whoredom to exist unchecked.

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