Tag Archives: sheldon adelson

Money Watch: Who’s playing in the Georgia Senate race?

campaign money There is a negative ad campaign being launched in Georgia against the candidacy of Democrat Michelle Nunn from the “End Spending” super PAC, the brain child of the former CEO of TD Ameritrade.  The group describes itself as an “independent 501(4)c” which is roughly analogous to describing the wheels as independent of the bicycle.

Open Secrets offers a more exact description:

“Ending Spending is a conservative 501(c)4 group that focuses on federal spending and the national debt. The group originally targeted earmarks, but broadened its message to include balancing the federal budget and paying down the national debt. The group was founded by Joe Ricketts, the former CEO of TD Ameritrade and a known conservative backer. Brian Baker, the current president of Ending Spending, was an adviser to former Sens. Robert Dole and Richard Shelby. The group does not disclose its donors, and its money goes towards electioneering expenses.”

The Washington Post reported that as of August 1, 2014 ES Action Fund had ladled $345,000 for air time in August. The Nunn campaign made a $331,000 ad buy.  And where might all the the ES Action Fund money come from, even if the donors aren’t published the New York Times ferreted out some from the 2012 campaign, and the names ought not to be any surprise.

First, of course, there’s Mr. Ricketts who put $11.7 million in the pot in 2012, and then to absolutely no one’s surprise the next two names on the list are Nevada’s own Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who each donated a half million each in the 2012 cycle.   [NYT] It shouldn’t come as any more of a surprise to find the name of Linda McMahon on a 2014 donor listing. [CPI]  Given the generosity of its donors, and their deep pockets, state elections aren’t off the table, the organization has already ventured into state elections in the Wisconsin recall, and  the 2012 Nebraska Senate race. 

Thus, when the end of the ad says – brought to you by the ES Action Fund, be advised this is the old GOP/Koch/Adelson Gang showering ultra conservative candidates and causes with thousands of reasons to vote in favor of more breaks for millionaires and billionaires.

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Filed under campaign finance reform, campaign funds, Politics

Nevada CD 3: Bilbray Targeted by Koch Brothers, Hobby Lobby

KochtopusOld news, Erin Bilbray is running for the Nevada Congressional District 3 seat, incumbent Representative Joe Heck. New news, she’s already the target of the Congressional Leadership Fund Super PAC [Ralston] — and what a lovely group of donors they have.

During the 2011-2012 cycle 98 donors made contributions of more than $200,000. Right there up at the top is none other than our very own Sheldon Adelson, with a hefty $2.5 million donation. Las Vegas Sands kicked in another $2.5 million, Perry Homes tossed in an additional $1 million,  Schweitzer Engineering Labs contributed $300,000.  Schweitzer is in the power distribution protection, automation, and control business.

The American Action Network, founded by former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, and a 501 (4)c outfit, donated the interesting sum of $257,813.   Other recognizable names — Trump Organization, Reyes Holdings (major food service wholesaler), Abbott Laboratories, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, Borden Dairies, White Castle System, and not to be missed —  Koch Industries and Hobby Lobby.  [OS]

Now the Kochtopus extends its tentacles into Nevada politics.

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Filed under Nevada Democrats, Nevada politics, Politics

Here We Go Again? Adelson’s New Voting Gambit

AdelsonJon Ralston reports Nevada’s very own Sheldon Adelson is funding Engage Nevada, a 501 (c) 4 organization which purports to promote political education and voter registration.

We can guess the content of the “educational” efforts — a pure stream of right wing, pro-corporate, messages pertaining to “issues” such as immigration policy reform, tort law restrictions, low taxes for the wealthy, and anti-government slogans.  How the voting registration might be accomplished to further GOP ends is more complicated.

The Rules

Nevada Revised Statutes are abundantly clear on what constitutes illegal activities on the part of voter registration agencies:

NRS 293.5045 Voter registration agencies: Prohibited acts; penalties. 1. A person who works in a voter registration agency shall not (a) Seek to influence an applicant’s political preference or party registration;  (b) Display a political preference or party allegiance in a place where it can be seen by an applicant; (c) Make any statement or take any action to discourage an applicant from registering to vote; or (d) Make any statement or take any action which would lead the applicant to believe that a decision to register to vote has any effect on the availability of any services or benefits provided by the State or Federal Government.

The Guide for Voter Registration drives prepared by the Nevada Secretary of State’s office (pdf) specifies 14 things which a voter registration drive organization may NOT do.

Not to offer any more advice to those who want to circumvent the intent of the State of Nevada to have as many citizens participate in elections as possible, but…

Gimmicks and Games

There’s one old but goodie, tried and true method of collecting new voters for a particular party — follow the demographics.   If your party is favored by elderly white men, then obviously you’d want to go into precincts which contain volumes of elderly affluent white males.  Both parties provide registration assistance to individuals in their respective demographic profiles.  Following the demographics is obvious.

A second method is the Private Party, it’s a variation on the old Book Club “member get a member” recommendation ploy.  Registration drives on private property usually mean at shopping malls, or other gathering spots.  However, there’s nothing to prevent a person from inviting guests to a “party” and encouraging them to “bring a new voter” along with them.   Thus, a party could stage an event, invite guests, and make “voting registration” available on the premises.

No one misses targets of opportunity, on the Republican side these could be church parking lots, country clubs, senior citizen centers in more affluent areas, etc.  There’s no law that says you have to go where your voters aren’t.

Assuming the Republicans don’t revert to the activities of Nathan Sproul and his associates, there’s nothing illegal about conducting voter registration drives.  We probably do want to remember that then Secretary of State, Dean Heller, couldn’t kick that Voter Outreach of America  ball away from himself fast enough in 2004, and Sproul has been active since.

In short if “it” looks like Sproul’s Lincoln Strategy group, or like Voter Outreach of America, or Strategic Allied Consulting, or any other incarnation of Sproul’s group … or anything similar, then Nevada voters are well advised to stay clear.  This didn’t prevent the Romney Campaign from utilizing the services of the infamous group in 2012.  Should “Engage Nevada” hire Sproul associates warning flags should be flapping in even the most gentle breeze.

Running the Projector

One of the tactics used to bring down ACORN in 2010 was the charge that it was somehow involved in “voter fraud.”  In Nevada this meant that the organization had improperly paid its employees, NOT that the agency was involved in actual fraud — the questionable applications were flagged by ACORN itself.  This didn’t stop the Sound Machine from the Right Wing.  Bless their hearts they’re still voting to defund an organization which hasn’t existed since 2010.

If, however, one is employing such hard-ballers like Lincoln Strategies cum Strategic Allies Consulting cum Voter Outreach for America… then a person might well assume that if we’re doing it they must be also.  Psychologists would label this Projection.

Projectors can get out of focus as well.  For example, the difference between the improper payments made by ACORN are not to be conflated with the activities of organizations such as Voter Outreach for America and incidents of destroying applications or failing to submit applications for those who sign up as Democrats or independents.  Those are two very different horses, and not aligned at the starting gate in the same race.  ACORN turned in all the applications, flagging those which were questionable.  Sproul’s minions have a way of making applications disappear.

Caveat Emptor

Since voter registration drives are supposed to return applications in ten days — if a person signs up at a drive then that individual should be able to call the county registrar or clerk and confirm that the application has been filed.  A well intentioned voter registration drive should provide the prospective voter with the phone numbers or contact information for the voting officials in the counties.  If a voting registration volunteer doesn’t provide contact information for a follow up, in this day and age of Segretti Style Dirty Tricks, a light should blink brightly somewhere in the back of the brain.

There’s one sure fire way to counter voter registration efforts by the opposition — conduct your own.  No matter how much money is poured into voter registration drives there is still nothing better than scores of well trained, well intentioned, and well informed volunteers.  It costs pennies and reaps incalculable rewards.

More:  The Ralston Reports, The Nevada Progressive,

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Bits and Interesting Pieces

Jig Saw Puzzle** That stalwart champion of free enterprise, Las Vegas’s own Sheldon Adelson, is complaining about his competitors offering lower room rates, and diminishing his profits. [LVinc]  Perhaps if he’d saved a bit of that moolah he pitched at GOP candidates in the last election…?

** If an endorsement from Governor Sandoval is supposed to be an effective repellant to ward off pesky intra-party competition — it’s not working, at least not in the run for 2016, in the Lt. Governor’s Office department.  Ray Hagar has more in the RGJ.  Muth complains here.  More from Ralston here.

** Governor Sandoval had an opportunity to help prevent the possibility of private guns sales to ineligible persons, and he blew it.

“Nobody — least of all Sandoval, a former attorney general and federal judge — wants felons or the mentally ill to get guns. But the fact remains, the governor had a chance to make it more difficult for that to happen, and he chose not to take it. And while this incident was resolved without tragedy or bloodshed, the next one may not be.”  [Sebelius]

Amen.

** There was the “transportation” of James F. Brown, and now Nevada’s Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Center is losing its accreditation.  [LVRJ] The Nevada Progressive has more + video.

** Talking Point Memo lists the “8 biggest losers”  should Congress fail to pass a comprehensive immigration policy reform bill.  And, might we add radical right wing Nevada politicians in a state in which the Hispanic population is projected to increase from about 687,166 in 2010 to approximately 802,432 by 2016? [StateDemographer pdf]

** Oh, my goodness and glory… Senator Harry Reid spoke about the effects of climate change and its association with wildland fire danger, and predictably the right wing goes off the rails.  From the Damned Pundit:

“Reid was stating the obvious. For decades scientists have been pointing at factors like warmer spring temperatures, lighter winter snowpacks and earlier growth creating an abundance of dryer fuel, and linking those factors to more — and more intense — Western wildfires.”

Here’s the predictable piece from the Elko Daily Freepers, a portion of the litany of “fact checking” provided in an attempt to advance the deniers’ fantasies: “Pay no attention to the fact there has been no appreciable global warming in 15 years despite a dramatic increase in carbon output from all sources — a phenomenon none of the global warming models can explain.”  Thus we are supposed to ignore this data from the Arctic studies?  Or, the Cambridge University study projecting that Arctic methane release could cost the global economy about $60 trillion over the next decades?

By the way, the old “prescribed burn” system which the EDFP writer would prefer to see restored — it’s not necessarily a thing of the past, witness the 2008 Prescribed Fire Guide (download) for forest and wildland management. [SJEl.org]

** So, why is Representative Steve King (R-IA Xenophobia) still on the House Subcommittee on Immigration?  NRDC would like to know.   Oh, wait — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN6) is still on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.   There’s more on Representative Cantaloupe Calves here.

**  It’s really hard to gin up any sympathy for the Bankers when they do stuff like mistake a foreclosed home for the one across the street and remove all a person’s belongings — then they trashed or sold all her stuff, and the bank is now refusing to pay for  replacements. [Crooks & Liars] Original story from Channel 10 here.   The First National Bank of Wellston is “disputing” the lady’s $18,000 claim for replacing lost personal property.  Her response: “I’m not running a yard sale here. I did not tell them to come in my house and make me an offer,” she said. “They took my stuff, and I want it back.” [ColumbusDispatch]  The FNB of Wellston has $94,813,000 in assets, and $56,598,000 in outstanding loans, it has reserves of $590,000. [BankTracker]   This story has hit other  national blogs, such as Think Progress.

** Members of the Senate who are drafting taxation reform legislation have promised their colleagues they’ll keep their suggestions secret for the next 50 years.   Transparency? Accountability? Anyone? The story, if not the suggestions, have leaked already — into Politico and The Hill.

** Jobs, Jobs, Jobs — and by CBO lights, the GOP is on the hook for killing about 1.6 million of them.   [Politicususa]  Just think of how many more they can kill if they make good on their pledge to Shut Down The Government unless President Obama agrees to repeal Obamacare?

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Filed under Adelson, banking, ecology, Gun Issues, Immigration, Nevada politics, Taxation

Clips and Quotes: Tuesday Morning News

** Governor Romney is back on the hustings with his Coupon Conservatism in full sail — this time on education.  This topic has been covered before, Federal funding for K-12 education isn’t a single large pot portioned out on a per child basis. The Governor would like to have Nevada schools enmeshed in a highly, and unnecessarily, complicated system in which funding follows the individual child — want a bureaucratic nightmare of Brobdingnagian proportions? This would do it.  Explanation here.

** Good news, the NV Progressive reports Democrats have a 65,000 person lead in Nevada voter registration.   The Gleaner takes on the Nevada senate race here and here. Ralston’s Reality Check (video) has some interesting points to make about Rep. Shelley Berkley’s ad questioning Sen. Dean Heller’s relationship with felon — it gets an A-.  Sebelius adds some insight and video at Slash/Politics.   Berkley and Heller debate on September 27, and the Washoe County Democrats are hosting a watch party; details here.

** Nevada’s own Sheldon Adelson continues to set records for spreading money in the expressed intent to promote his personal interests:

“Adelson has made history: He is the first person to spend $70 million to sway a presidential election, and he plans to spend more — perhaps as much as $100 million — by Election Day. An estimated $20 million to $30 million of the giving went to groups that do not disclose their donors and had not been reported before.”  [LVSun]

Mr. Adelson would, no doubt, like to make those pesky investigations into his operations in Macau go very very far away.   Ed Kilgore has more about “Adelson’s Ideological Dollars.”  Highly recommended reading.

** Since we qualify as a battleground state for some reason defying our actual number of electoral college votes, The Examiner reports President Obama leads on the Medicare issue.   Here’s a picture:

** Suppression Congestion:  The Pennsylvania lower court, instructed to re-hear arguments in the vote suppression scheme in that state, will take the case today. More at Crooks and Liars.   The Atlantic has an excellent piece describing the impact the Pennsylvania law has on elderly voters.    As former President Clinton put it back on September 4th — vote suppression is an act of desperation.

** Arithmetic:  The conservative economist whose work Governor Romney is fond of citing to support his tax shaft shift to middle income Americans — not…so…much:

“Conservative economists have tried make the numbers work. Martin Feldstein — a Harvard professor and president emeritus of the National Bureau of Economic Research — released a paper arguing that the targets could be met if “middle class” is defined downward — specifically if Romney increases the tax burden on incomes between $100,000 and $250,000 to pay for tax rate cuts for everyone else. Feldstein’s report ratified the Tax Policy Center’s broad thesis that Romney’s 20 percent tax rate cuts could not be offset merely by unwinding deductions and credits for the wealthy — families typically defined by both parties as middle class would also have to take a hit.”  [TPM]

Arithmetic.

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Filed under 2012 election, Adelson, Berkley, education, Heller, Medicare, Romney, tax revenue, Taxation, Vote Suppression, Voting

Romney, Adelson, and the Mega-Money Mindset

Dirty money will buy you dirty politics.   Princely benefactor of ultra-right wing causes, Nevada’s own Sheldon Adelson, is the subject of a probe into whether he violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. [LVSun/ProPublica] Some of Mr. Adelson’s donations should raise eyebrows as well.

The Newt Gingrich PAC, “Winning our Future,” received two major contributions; one of $5 million, and another for $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2012. [FundRace]  The Sands CEO’s willingness to pour millions, once reported at $21.5 million, [HuffPo] down the pipe into Newt Gingrich’s book promotion tour and sometime presidential campaign should make it clear to all but the most ethically challenged that he meant it when he said his pockets were bottomless when it comes to supporting the Romney Campaign.   So, whatever is raked in from the Golden Bamboozle in Macau could easily fill the coffers of the First Financialist in Chief.

Evidently, all Mr. Romney had to do was promise to make the pilgrimage to Israel, be as hawkish about Iran as the Bush era Neo-Cons, and make statements saying President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus. [NYT] Oh, and a hug for right wing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gets bonus points.

However, failure to grant Mr. Adelson his million$ of wi$he$ reveals a less lamb-like corporate executive; an explanation from a Sands executive is illustrative: “Weidner recalled struggling to explain Adelson’s style to the Chinese, once comparing his boss to a famous emperor who became angry with China’s scholars and buried them alive with their books. “I would tell them: ‘He is brilliant. Sometimes, like the emperor, he is brutal.'”  [LVSun]

Governor Romney, apparently unwilling to be buried alive with his tax returns, has bent his knee to our Megalomaniacal Mogul.  It’s also nice to know that Mr. Adelson could be willing to spend as much as $100 million to have a Financialist occupying the White House. [HuffPo]

Governor Romney is not the only recipient of Mr. Adelson’s recent largess.  Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA7) sponsored the Young Guns PAC which limped into the campaign season with $55,ooo in the first quarter.  Getting a $5 million boost from the Adelson’s was a lifeline for Cantor’s campaign chest, from which future and current adherents to Cantor’s brand of obstructionist politics will receive donations.

The Adelson’s have also funneled $5 million into the Boehner/Cantor Congressional Leadership Fund. [LVSun]  The Adelson money now mingles with donations from AFLAC PAC, AT&T, the Koch Brothers, Home Depot, Valero, and the Nuclear Energy Institute in the CLF. [OS]

The Mega-Money Mindset

There’s a legalistic mindset at play in the political money games.  Only the ultra-rich have the resources to work at the edges of the legal system.  Consider for a moment Governor Romney’s carefully phrased comments about his income taxes:  “I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more. I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes.” [WaPo]

Governor Romney paid “all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more.”  This is more easily accomplished with a battalion of accountants and tax law professionals generally unavailable to members of the American middle class.   Most people fill in the blanks on the EZ form, put a stamp on it, and mail it in, with a “what the heck, it’s as close as I can get” mentality.   A mind-set unfamiliar to the top 1% of the top 1%.

Compare this philosophical bent to Mr. Adelson’s comments on campaign finance:  “I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections,” he said. “But as long as it’s doable, I’m going to do it.” [Forbes]

Governor Romney is going to take every deduction, every dodge, and every tax haven possible because he will do only what is legally required of him. Mr. Adelson will attempt to influence elections because it is legally “do-able.”   There is no internal moral compass directing their actions; only external restraints.

In one case there is no perception that parking money in off-shore accounts in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, or in Swiss banks, isn’t “right” or might be held ethically questionable for someone who is running for the presidency of the United States.

In the other case there is a man worth approximately $25 billion, who in the absence of any external legal restraints on his donations will seek to buy an election — or multiple elections — if it’s black letter legal.  Mr. Adelson has admitted it’s the wrong thing to do, but if it advances his personal interests and it’s isn’t strictly illegal, then there is no internal restraint on his actions.

Morality Matters

Morality “refers to a code of conduct that applies to all who can understand it and can govern their behavior by it. In the normative sense, morality should never be overridden, that is, no one should ever violate a moral prohibition or requirement for non-moral considerations.” [Plato/Stanford]

The very definition of morality requires internal controls, or the application of moral principles by self-governing individuals who are capable of understanding the accepted code of conduct.  In the realm of campaign and personal finance, it seems neither Governor Romney, nor Mr. Adelson, wishes to apply generally accepted codes of conduct as part of their own self-governance.  Governor Romney will seek every edge he can pertaining to his taxes, while Mr. Adelson will do anything not explicitly forbidden — even though their actions give every appearance of dodgy behavior from a public morality perspective.

Small wonder neither man is fond of any restraints on their financial empires.  For such men “freedom” equates to a lack of legal restrictions on their actions.  They are not “free” as long as the rest of society restricts their behavior.  Thus, Mr. Romney calls for the repeal of the Dodd Frank Act regulating the financial sector.  It impinges on his “freedom.”  Mr. Adelson would rather the Justice Department not look too closely at his operations in Macau. That would impinge on his “freedom.”

Therefore, former Governor Romney may, indeed, not understand the commotion about his opportunistic flipping and flopping on issues like women’s rights, or abortion, or global climate change, or support for the policies of the Reagan Administration, [Politifact] and leave the electorate holding the view that he is a hollow man without fundamental political principles.  If all one’s principles are a function of external control, then it’s no wonder the former Massachusetts Governor is a “well lubricated weather vane” revolving as the wind direction changes.

Perhaps neither would understand:

Then, when the clouds are off the soul, When thou dost bask in Nature’s eye, Ask, how she view’d thy self-control, Thy struggling, task’d morality — Nature, whose free, light, cheerful air, Oft made thee, in thy gloom, despair.”  — Matthew Arnold.

——-

For an insightful piece on the issue, from a different perspective, read “Pay no attention to the billionaire behind the curtain”  Las Vegas City Life, July 6, 2012.

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Filed under 2012 election, Adelson, Cantor, Romney

Nevada’s Gift to Wisconsin: Sheldon Adelson’s Money

As if the state of Wisconsin doesn’t have enough problems, Nevada gazillionaire extraordinaire Sheldon Adelson is pumping money into the coffers of Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign treasury. [MilJourSent]

Who’s supporting Walker?

Walker received two $250,000 donations in the latest period. One came from Las Vegas Sands president Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino mogul who, along with his wife, put $17.5 million into Winning the Future, a super PAC supporting Gingrich.

Also giving $250,000 was Richard DeVos, the co-founder of the parent company of direct marketing firm Amway. DeVos has been active in the school voucher movement, and Walker last year expanded Milwaukee’s voucher program and established a similar one in eastern Racine County.

Five people gave the governor $100,000 each – John Childs of Massachusetts, chairman of private equity firm J.W. Childs Associates; Warren Stephens of Arkansas, chairman of financial services company Stephens Inc.; Robert Kern, founder of Waukesha power-generating firm Generac; his wife, Patricia Kern; and Patrick Ryan of Illinois, CEO of insurance firm Ryan Specialty Group.  [emphasis added]

 

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Filed under 2012 election, Adelson, Republicans