New Orleans Billionaire Vegas and global casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s 11th hour $5 million contribution to a Super PAC to try to save Newt Gingrich’s campaign for the Republican nomination for US President should become a case study in the influence peddling now allowed by the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision. Any pretense that politicians and political office cannot be auctioned, bought and sold should now vanish. This is current political paradigm. Not that this was not the case before, but at least politicians would honor American civic values by pretending big money was not calling the tune to every one of their dances. Now there is no question that Daddy Warbucks is paying the band and picking the playlist.
Reading the story in the Times, it appears that at some point many connected to Gingrich (remember everyone is still pretending these are all separate and independent efforts!) thought Adelson might come up with $20 million. For all the rest of us know, if Gingrich survives, this $5M might be a downpayment on a bigger play.
Supposedly, Adelson and Gingrich are buddies, BFF’s now. I’m sure money never had anything to do with it. Right?
Turns out they were brought together by their anti-union animus. Adelson has long been notorious in the labor movement for his opposition to Culinary 226’s initial organizing efforts to win card check recognition as Adelson was building the Venetian casino on the Vegas strip. Local 226 is probably the strongest private sector, service worker union in the country, so this fight was legendary, and unfortunately, the Venetian still stands out as one of the only operations on the strip that is non-union. Adelson was able to recruit Gingrich for help in his anti-union campaign back to his time as Speaker of the House, and repaid his advice with a big time fundraiser in Vegas for the Republicans. Subsequently they have worked on a number of anti-union initiatives in this blood war in the desert with national impact. Here’s a rich irony given Adelson’s $5 M bet on Gingrich. One of the things they worked on closely were initiatives to prevent unions from collecting political donations from their own union members!!!!
The other day we also were favored with reports of the companies Mitt Romney bought at Bain Capital and their records of union busting and unfair labor practice charges. It was unclear he was still hanging around the building, but it was clear he was still collecting cash from Bain while this stuff was going on.
I imagine one of the Republican debate questions we can expect, especially in the upcoming South Carolina primary, will be how stridently the Republican candidates will dismantle the NLRB, repeal the National Labor Relations Act, and generally kick labor and their unions to the curb. Maybe it won’t even be a question, since to make it a debate, there probably has to be a least some differences of opinion, and increasingly on the Republican side anti-unionism is becoming a litmus test, administered, orally by their big money backers, just like their believe in God and their commitments to blocking abortions.