Saturday, January 28, 2012

GOP Pols, Right-Wing Billionaires, Chinese "Communists" and the art of having it every which way in the citadels of Money & Power.

According to a 2008 New Yorker article on Sheldon Adelson - Newt Gingrich's financial angel in the GOP primaries and current poster boy for post-"Citizens United" unrestricted campaign spending - the cagy casino mogul knows well how the game of money and politics is played, and with much bigger stakes than the career of a disgraced former House Speaker.

In 2001 Adelson - well known for his right-wing views and close ties to GOP politicians - met with the mayor of Beijing in the course of promoting his Las Vegas Sands Inc. casino business to the Chinese ruling group. Adelson saw his entrprise as a perfect fit for the island of Macao, a former Portugese colony which is controlled as a "special administrative region" by China and which had been exempted from the Communist Party's bans on gambling.

Global gambling mogul Adelson
But the Beijing mayor brought up an apparently unrelated concern - legislation pending in Congress criticizing China's human rights record, that was targeted in opposition to Beijing hosting the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.  The official asked if the politically-connected Adelson could do anything to block this US legislation as a favor to the Communist Party-controlled government he was lobbying to open China's doors to his casino business?

According to The New Yorker (citing testimony in court documents filed in an eventual lawsuit when one of Adelson's presumed business partners alleged he had been ripped off by the casino mogul):
Adelson said in court he immediately made calls on his cell phone to Republican friends in Congress—including Tom DeLay, then the majority whip—who had received generous support from Adelson. DeLay told him that there was indeed a resolution pending about China and the Olympics.

Representative Tom Lantos, then the highest-ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, had introduced a resolution opposing China’s Olympic bid, saying, “China’s abominable human rights record violates the spirit of the games and should disqualify Beijing from consideration.”

(Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Inc. chief executive Bill) Weidner... described the relationship between DeLay—“a very religious guy”—and Adelson. “The link between Sheldon Adelson and right-wing religious Christians is the commonality of a strong Israel,” he said. “So it just happens to be Sheldon has taken Tom DeLay to Israel and he’s a friend.” DeLay told Adelson that he supported the resolution because of his concern about China’s record on human rights but added that he would be discussing the legislative agenda shortly. “Sheldon folds his cell phone up and says to the mayor of Beijing, ‘I’m going to do my best,’ ” Weidner said. “About three hours later DeLay calls and he tells Sheldon, ‘You’re in luck,’ ” he continued, “ ‘because we’ve got a military-spending bill. . . . We’re not going to be able to move the bill, so you tell your mayor that he can be assured that this bill will never see the light of day.’ So Sheldon goes and he goes to the mayor and he says, ‘The bill will never see the light of day, Mr. Mayor. Don’t worry about it.’ ”
Adelson, of course, got his casino licenses from the Chinese rulers - edging out the competition and, in effect, getting a sweetheart deal just one notch below being able to print money.  Further, according to The New Yorker:
By the end of 2006, Macao had become the top gambling center in the world, with gaming revenues exceeding $6.9 billion, a quarter of a billion dollars more than those on the Las Vegas Strip. In 2007, revenues climbed to $10.3 billion. That year, Adelson opened the $2.4-billion Venetian Macao—with canals and stripe-shirted gondoliers, as well as an extensive shopping mall and a five-hundred-and-forty-six-thousand-square-foot casino, which is the largest in the world. Since the Sands Macao opened, his personal wealth has multiplied more than fourteen times, and, according to the Times, in the two years after his company went public he earned roughly a million dollars an hour...
Now Las Vegas Sands plans to create “the Las Vegas Strip of Asia” on Cotai—an area of reclaimed land between two small islands, connected by bridges to Macao’s peninsula—spending an additional ten billion dollars to build a dozen new hotels, with twenty thousand rooms, and adjacent casinos...
At a groundbreaking ceremony, in March, 2007, Adelson said that many members of Congress criticize China for its human-rights record, but he added that he liked the way the Chinese run their country. (emphasis added)

(Via UP with Chris Hayes)

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