Published: Sunday 16 December 2012
“The DGA and RGA have devised national strategies for collecting unlimited funds from unions, corporations, and wealthy individuals, and funneling the money into state races.”

Despite outraising its Democratic counterpart by a 2-to-1 margin, the Republican Governors Association won only four of 11 races in the 2012 election, a far cry from the success it enjoyed two years ago.

The Washington D.C.-based political organization raised almost $100 million, according to recently released Internal Revenue Service data. The group targeted six states it considered winnable, losing five of them. Overall, Democrats won seven of this year's 11 contests, but the GOP still managed to pick up one seat in North Carolina, long held by Democrats.

The top donors to the so-called “527” organization, which can accept unlimited contributions from billionaires, corporations and unions, are familiar Republican Party patrons — No. 1 is Bob Perry, a Texas homebuilder and perennial RGA supporter, who gave $3.25 million. That’s a little more than half of what he gave in 2010.

Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is No. 2, with $3 million in donations between him and his wife. According to the ...

Published: Monday 3 December 2012
Published: Wednesday 14 November 2012
“Unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United edict allowing unlimited sums of cash in our elections, they spewed an ocean of money into efforts to enthrone Mitt Romney in the White House and turn the Senate into a GOP rubber stamp for totally corporatizing government.”

They came. They spent! Then, they limped home, tails between their legs. (OK, they didn't limp; they were flown home on their private Gulfstream jets. But still, their tails were tucked down in the defeat mode.)

"They" are the far-right corporate billionaire extremists who tried to become America's presidential kingmakers this year. Unleashed by the Supreme Court's Citizens United edict allowing unlimited sums of cash in our elections, they spewed an ocean of money into efforts to enthrone Mitt Romney in the White House and turn the Senate into a GOP rubber stamp for totally corporatizing government.

On election night, they gathered ...

Published: Wednesday 7 November 2012
“Adelson was top backer of the pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future super PAC, with $20 million in donations.”

Money can't buy happiness, nor can it buy an election, apparently.

The top donors to super PACs in 2012 did not fare well — casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the No. 1 super PAC contributor with more than $53 million in giving, backed eight losers at this writing.

Adelson was top backer of the pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future super PAC, with $20 million in donations. Romney lost to President Barack Obama. In addition, Adelson's contributions to super PACs backing U.S. Senate candidates in Florida, Virginia and New Jersey were also for naught.

He was not the only conservative billionaire who had a bad night.

Contran Corp. CEO Harold Simmons, (No. 2), homebuilder Bob Perry (No. 3) and TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, (No.4), also bet on Romney. Collectively, the trio gave $13.4 million to Restore Our Future, and Ricketts’ super PAC, Ending Spending Action Fund, spent an additional $9.9 million helping Romney’s failed bid.

The super donor winner of the night was Newsweb Corp. CEO Fred Eychaner (No. 5). Eychaner gave $3.5 million to pro-Obama super PAC Priorities ...

Published: Wednesday 7 November 2012
“Campaign money can be difficult to track, since states set their own campaign finance laws, and money flows in and out of state and federal political parties, political action committees and non-profits and into campaigns and issue advocacy.”

Local and state campaigns have become a moneyed battleground this year for corporations and special interest groups hoping to sway the results of elections for local and state offices on Nov. 6.

From California to Texas to Florida, global businesses as well as ideological organizations and extremely wealthy groups have helped channel more than 1.6 billion dollars through political action committees and non-profit groups and into local campaigns and issues this year, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that analyses state campaign-spending reports.

Some of the cash went into campaigns of local lawmakers. Other amounts supported campaigns for judges, sheriffs and other offices. More than 6,000 legislators are running for election Tuesday, according to the National Council of State Legislators, with most relying on private funding.

Campaign money can be difficult to track, since states set their own campaign finance laws, and money flows in and out of state and federal political parties, political action committees and non-profits and into campaigns and issue advocacy.

“Money is access, and it definitely influences the outcomes of elections,” Judy Nadler, a government ethics expert at Santa Clara University in California, told IPS. In some states, “huge amounts of money [go] unreported and unregulated.”

This “outside spending” increased 38 percent between 2006 and 2010, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Spending by candidates increased 19 percent during that time, it found.

Large chunks of special interest ...

Published: Wednesday 31 October 2012
“The names of their top donors are revealed to the IRS — but not to the public.”

In the 2012 election, nonprofits have been the preferred vehicle for donors who prefer to keep their identities secret. But with the right lawyers, super PACs, which are supposedly transparent about their donors, can accomplish the same feat.

Social welfare nonprofits, known as 501(c)(4)s by the Internal Revenue Service, file tax returns with the IRS. The names of their top donors are revealed to the IRS — but not to the public.

Super PACs, on the other hand, do report their donors. In some instances, though, those donors are nonprofits. Or the funds might come from shell corporations, which have passed through millions of dollars to the political organizations from unidentified donors in this election.

Aetna’s oops

Occasionally, the veil is lifted on the secrecy of these groups, sometimes inadvertently.

Insurance giant Aetna accidentally disclosed to insurance regulators earlier this year that in 2011, it had contributed $3 million to the American Action Network, a 501(c)(4) group that has spent $11 million targeting mostly Democratic candidates for Congress.

The company later scrubbed the disclosure from its filing and declined to elaborate on it despite demands from institutional shareholders for an explanation.

Last week, the American Energy Opportunity Fund, a 501(c)(4) group led by two executives at an oil and gas company, revealed it had paid for nearly $800,000 in radio ads targeting President Barack Obama on his energy policy and the funds came thanks to a donation from Las Vegas casino titan

Published: Sunday 28 October 2012
While the so-called Nevada “issues guides” don’t specifically endorse Romney, the pamphlets strongly imply that Obama’s policies could cause workers to lose their jobs.

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has donated more than $50 million to Republicans, is now pressuring his casino employees to vote for Mitt Romney. According to the Huffington Post, Adelson’s Management at Las Vegas Sands Corp. “has been distributing voter guides friendly to Republican nominee Mitt Romney and critical of President Barack Obama to its casino employees in Las Vegas.”

While the so-called Nevada “issues guides” don’t specifically endorse Romney, the pamphlets strongly imply that Obama’s policies could cause workers to lose their jobs. “Too much of big government doesn’t just affect our company; it affects our employees, our customers, and our shareholders,” the guide says. “Voting is an important way for you no only to do your civic duty, but to protect your job.” It goes on to misrepresent Obama’s health, tax, and energy policies — while painting Romney’s proposal in a favorable light:

HEALTH CARE: “The federal government requiring all U.S. citizens to buy or otherwise obtain health insurance coverage as a condition of their citizenship is not good for America, our company, and our employees….Gov. Romney favors reform that encourages competition and brings down costs.”

TAXES: “The President would increase many types of taxes, including those on businesses that file taxes as individuals…The governor supports a flatter, simpler and fairer tax code for all Americans that will help businesses and families to prosper.”

ENERGY: “[Obama's] administration restricted the expansion of leases for oil and gas exploration on government ...

Published: Friday 19 October 2012
“In a nutshell, the high court’s 5-4 decision said that it is OK for corporations and labor unions to spend as much as they want to convince people to vote for or against a candidate.”

 

By now most folks know that the U.S. Supreme Court did something that changed how money can be spent in elections and by whom, but what happened and why should you care?

The Citizens United ruling, released in January 2010, tossed out the corporate and union ban on making independent expenditures and financing electioneering communications. It gave corporations and unions the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other political tools, calling for the election or defeat of individual candidates.

In a nutshell, the high court’s 5-4 decision said that it is OK for corporations and labor unions to spend as much as they want to convince people to vote for or against a candidate.

The decision did not affect contributions. It is still illegal for companies and labor unions to give money directly to candidates for federal office. The court said that because these funds were not being spent in coordination with a campaign, they “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

So if the decision was about spending, why has so much been written about contributions? Like seven and eight-figure donations from people like casino magnate and billionaire Sheldon Adelson who, with his family, has given about $40 million to so-called “super PACs,” formed in the wake of the decision?

For that, we need to look at another court case — SpeechNow.org v. FEC. The lower-court case used the Citizens United case as precedent when it said that limits on contributions to groups that make independent expenditures are unconstitutional.

And that’s what led to the creation of the super PACs, which act as shadow political parties. They accept unlimited donations from billionaires, corporations ...

Published: Thursday 27 September 2012
Sheldon Adelson, one of the richest men in the world, is pouring tens of millions into the elections.

 

Out of all of the super donors that have given heavily to the 2012 election cycle, the most outstanding peddler of influence is casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who’s name is now synonymous with the phrase “money in politics.” Adelson has spent over $70 million on the 2012 election alone, which is nearly a fifth of what presidential hopeful John McCain spent on his 2008 presidential bid in total. Politico had a rare interview with Adelson, where he cites the motivation of his spending is that:

“[He doesn't] believe one person should influence an election,” he said… “So, I suppose you’ll ask me, ...

Published: Thursday 20 September 2012
Your favored candidates may be outspent, but if they out-organize, they may be able to prevail.

Recently, a respected friend sent me an outraged email. His subject line: "BOYCOTT VOTING!" He was at wit's end over the vast sums of money that wealthy individuals and corporations are pouring into our elections: $400 million from the Koch Brothers; $100 million from Sheldon Adelson. If big money is going to buy the election, he said, then he will “withdraw his consent” by not voting.

I, too, am apoplectic at the money flooding our elections. It speaks of a level of corruption that undermines my hopes for solving the big problems of our time. That’s why I’m promoting the passage of a constitutional amendment to curtail unlimited election spending. 

But is boycotting the vote the right response? Here’s how I see it: the big money doesn’t buy votes. It mostly buys television ads to influence our votes or ...

Published: Friday 31 August 2012
“A woman identified as Adelson’s daughter grabbed our video camera, tried to take it into a private suite and then threw the camera to the ground.”

When Democracy Now! senior producer Mike Burke attempted to interview billionaire casino magnate and Republican donor Sheldon Adelson inside the Republican National Convention, a woman identified as Adelson’s daughter grabbed our video camera, tried to take it into a private suite and then threw the camera to the ground. While Adelson’s daughter first accused Burke of hitting her, she later came out of the suite to apologize. The incident was caught on tape, shortly after Burke questioned another billionaire GOP donor, David Koch, as well as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele. Burke files a report and joins us to describe what happened.

 

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, "Breaking With Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency." We’re broadcasting from PBSstation WEDU here in Tampa, Florida, as we cover ...

Published: Saturday 18 August 2012
Sounds good, but earlier this week – three days after being picked as Romney’s running-mate – Ryan went to Las Vegas to pay homage to Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who is the poster boy for using money to become “politically connected” in Washington, and getting the “breaks” that come with it.

 

On Friday, Paul Ryan, the presumptive Republican vice-presidential nominee, made the most populist speech of this campaign season.

“It’s the people who are politically connected, it’s the people who have access to Washington that get the breaks,” he told an enthusiastic crowd of over 2,000 at a high school gym in Virginia.

“Well, no more. We don’t want to pick winners and losers in Washington… . Hardworking taxpayers should be treated fairly and it should be based on whether they’re good, whether they work hard and not who they know in Washington. That’s entrepreneurialism. That’s free enterprise.”

Sounds good, but earlier this week – three days after being picked as Romney’s running-mate – Ryan went to Las Vegas to pay homage to Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who is the poster boy for using money to become “politically connected” in Washington, and getting the “breaks” that come with it. Adelson has promised to donate up to $100 million to make sure Romney and Ryan are in the White House next year.

Much of Adelson’s fortune comes from his casino in Macau, in China, via his money-greased access to Washington.

When China’s pitch for the 2008 Olympics was endangered by a House resolution opposing the bid because of China’s “abominable human rights record,” Adelson phoned Tom DeLay, then House majority whip and recipient of Adelson’s political generosity — urging him to block the resolution, which DeLay promptly did. The next day, according to the New York Times, a Chinese vice premier promised Mr. Adelson an endless line of gamblers to the Macau casino.

The money Adelson has committed to putting Romney and Ryan into the White House is a business investment. Adelson has a lot ...

Published: Friday 17 August 2012
“None of the budgets Ryan has come up with as chair of the House Budget Committee indicate which tax loopholes he’d close and exactly which programs for lower-income Americans he’d eliminate in order to balance the budget.”

 

I keep hearing that Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan “enables the country to have the debate it needs to have,” or “permits us to have a grownup discussion,” or “finally presents America with a real choice.” The New York Times oped page proclaims: “Let the Real Debate Begin!”

Debate? What debate? 

Romney isn’t even standing by Ryan’s budget plan. He’s been distancing himself from it from the moment he tabbed Ryan for the ticket.  “I’m the one running for President,” he keeps saying in response to reporters’ questions about whether he agrees with Ryan.

Not even Ryan will say publicly what the Romney economic plan entails. “We haven’t run the numbers yet,” he repeats – as if there were numbers in the Romney plan to run. But the numbers in Romney’s plan are like the numbers in Romney’s tax returns — they’re invisible to anyone who might have an interest in knowing. 

But even if Romney were to adopt Ryan’s budget plan intact we still wouldn’t have a real debate because Ryan’s own plan itself lacks specifics that add up.

None of the budgets Ryan has come up with as chair of the House Budget Committee indicate which tax loopholes he’d close and exactly which programs for lower-income Americans he’d eliminate in order to balance the budget.

Ryan claims that his revenue targets can be met by “broadening the tax base,” but he hasn’t said how he’d do it.  He’s insisted on keeping two of the biggest loopholes that overwhelmingly favor the wealthy —the preferential tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

In fact, Ryan’s budget is larded with so much defense spending and so many tax cuts for the ...

Published: Sunday 5 August 2012
Published: Tuesday 17 July 2012
“Some of the methods Sheldon Adelson used in Macau to save his company and help build a personal fortune estimated at $25 billion have come under expanding scrutiny by federal and Nevada investigators.”

This story was co-published with PBS' "Frontline."

A decade ago gambling magnate and leading Republican donor Sheldon Adelson looked at a desolate spit of land in Macau and imagined a glittering strip of casinos, hotels and malls.

Where competitors saw obstacles, including Macau's hostility to outsiders and historic links to Chinese organized crime, Adelson envisaged a chance to make billions.

Adelson pushed his chips to the center of the table, keeping his nerve even as his company teetered on the brink of bankruptcy in late 2008.

The Macau bet paid off, propelling Adelson into the ranks of the mega-rich and underwriting his role as the largest Republican donor in the 2012 campaign, providing tens of millions of dollars to Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and other GOP causes.

Published: Saturday 14 July 2012
“We can have a democracy or we can have great wealth in the hands of a comparative few, but we cannot have both.”

 

Who’s buying our democracy? Wall Street financiers, the Koch brothers, and casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn. 

And they’re doing much of it in secret.

It’s a perfect storm:

The greatest concentration of wealth in more than a century — courtesy “trickle-down” economics, Reagan and Bush tax cuts, and the demise of organized labor.

Combined with…

Unlimited political contributions — courtesy of Republican-appointed Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy, in one of the dumbest decisions in Supreme Court history, “Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission,” along with lower-court rulings that have expanded it.

Combined with…

Complete secrecy about who’s contributing how much to whom — courtesy of a loophole in the tax laws that allows so-called non-profit “social welfare” organizations to accept the unlimited contributions for hard-hitting political ads.

Put them all together and our democracy is being sold down the drain.

With a more equitable and traditional distribution of wealth, far more Americans would have a fair chance of influencing politics. As the great jurist Louis Brandeis once said, “we can have a democracy or we can have great wealth in the hands of a comparative few, but we cannot have both.”

Alternatively, inequality wouldn’t be as much of a problem if we had strict laws limiting political spending or, at the very least, disclosing who was contributing what. 

But we have an almost unprecedented concentration of wealth and unlimited political spending and secrecy. 

I’m not letting Democrats off the hook. Democratic candidates are still too dependent on Wall Street ...

Published: Sunday 1 July 2012
Bauerlein and Kroll discuss the role of attorney James Bopp, a key legal advisor behind the Citizens United decision; how Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson and others are quietly bankrolling Mitt Romney's campaign; and why President Obama has opted to accept unlimited super PAC donations.

 In our extended conversation with Monika Bauerlein and Andy Kroll of Mother Jones magazine, we continue to look at "dark money" -- the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by outside groups who are helping to make the 2012 presidential race the most expensive race in history. Bauerlein and Kroll discuss the role of attorney James Bopp, a key legal advisor behind the Citizens United decision; how Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson and others are quietly bankrolling Mitt Romney's campaign; and why President Obama has opted to accept unlimited super PAC donations. "What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United was say that when you are not giving your money in a campaign directly to the candidate's official campaign committee, then we cannot regulate you, because you are free to speak your mind -- and spending a ton of money is a form of speaking your mind," Bauerlein says.

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: The special we’ll be doing Thursday morning as the Supreme Court hands down its decision on healthcare will be at 10:00 a.m. Eastern [Daylight] Time. We turn now to dark money, the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by outside groups who are helping to make the 2012 presidential race the most expensive race in history. ...

Published: Thursday 28 June 2012
“What the American people are angry about is they understand that they did not cause this recession.”

Madam President, the American people are angry.  

They are angry because they are living through the worst recession since the great depression. 

Unemployment is not 8.2%, real unemployment is closer to 15%. 

Young people who are graduating high school and graduating college, they're going out into the world, they want to become independent, they want to work, and there are no jobs. 

There are workers out there 50, 55 years old who intended to work the remainder of their working lives, suddenly they got a pink slip, their self-esteem is destroyed, they're never going to have another job again and now they're worried about their retirement security. 

READ FULL POST 32 COMMENTS

Published: Monday 18 June 2012
This anti-democratic ruling opened the door for unlimited sums of corporate cash to barge into our national, state, and local elections and take charge. Walker is the first ugly sprouting of that alien seed.

 

"Scott Walker Wins Wisconsin," screamed headlines across the country after the labor-bashing incumbent governor hung onto his job in the June 5 recall election.

Well, yes...but no. Walker will get to stay in office for the rest of his term, but he didn't win the election — money did. This was a victory for the Citizens United edict issued two years ago by the Supreme Court's five-man corporatist majority. This anti-democratic ruling opened the door for unlimited sums of corporate cash to barge into our national, state, and local elections and take charge. Walker is the first ugly sprouting of that alien seed.

He sacked up some $30 million from corporate interests — nearly eight times the money that his Democratic opponent had to spend. Two-thirds of Walker's stockpile came from out of state. Bob Perry, an anti-labor, anti-government Texas tycoon, sank more than half-a-million bucks into his Wisconsin soul mate's campaign. Likewise, the far-right DeVos family pitched in with a quarter-million dollars from its Amway fortune. So did Las Vegas casino baron Sheldon Adelson, the guy who bankrolled Newt Gingrich's failed presidential bid.

Then came the insidious, secretive, "outside" campaigns that the Supremes green-lighted. Citizens United allowed corporations to dump mountains of their cash into elections. The multibillionaire, laissez-fairyland Koch brothers, for example, shoved at least $3 million behind Walker — practically all of which went to negative attacks against his opponent.

Some "victory." Honest conservatives might take cheer that Walker still clings to the governor's chair, but there can be no joy in the fact that money rules. That's the lesson of this election. And that's the real fight. To join it, go to Public Citizen's grassroots rebellion:

Published: Monday 18 June 2012
“According to a new survey from the Federal Reserve, the median American family’s net worth dropped by nearly 40 percent from 2007 to 2010 — from $126,400 to $77,300 — wiping out 18 years’ worth of accumulated wealth.”

Deep down we know there's no paradise on earth, but as the children of immigrants who came to this country believing it was a land of milk and honey, we are stalwart.  For generations now, it's the middle class that has sustained the dream of "America, the Beautiful" – with a dash of liberty and justice for all.  But now the very foundations on which that dream has rested are crumbling.  Consider the facts in this recent editorial in the New York Times:         

 

[The] numbers on the loss of personal wealth [since 2007-2008] are staggering and say a lot about why the economic recovery has been so sluggish — and why the government will need to do a lot more to turn things around.

 

According to a new survey from the Federal Reserve, the median American family’s net worth dropped by nearly 40 percent from 2007 to 2010 — from $126,400 to $77,300 — wiping out 18 years’ worth of accumulated wealth. The crash in house prices accounted for most of that loss. Median family income, which was already edging down in the years before the recession, continued to decline, dropping from $49,600 in 2007 to $45,800 in 2010, about where it was in the mid-1990s.

 

The middle class was hit the hardest…

 

The recession "would have been much deeper and the weak recovery much weaker", we are told,  but for past government support (for example, payroll tax cuts and extended jobless benefits).  Of course, Republicans in Congress opposed these measures.  Give the socialist Obama an inch, you see, and he will turn this country into a Marxist dictatorship.

 

The Times editorial calls for "…more support, including federal spending on education and public-works projects to create ...

Published: Sunday 27 May 2012
Published: Friday 27 April 2012
What the Citizens United decision and a lower court ruling have done is make household names out of a bunch of relatively unknown, very wealthy conservatives.

Contrary to expectations, the much-criticized court decisions that gave us “super PACs” have not led to a tsunami of contributions flowing from the treasuries of Fortune 500 corporations — at least not yet anyway.

What the Citizens United decision and a lower court ruling have done is make household names out of a bunch of relatively unknown, very wealthy conservatives. Of the top 10 donors to super PACs so far in the 2012 election cycle, seven are individuals — not corporations — and four of those individuals are billionaires.

The top 10 contributors gave more than a third, or $68 million of the nearly $202 million reported by the outside spending groups this election, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission records.

Rounding out the top 10 are two labor unions and a physicians’ medical malpractice insurance group.

The top donor list is mostly Republican, which is not surprising given the competitive GOP presidential primary season. Even so, Democrats have had less success in raising money for super PACs so far.

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court and a lower court set the stage for the new super PACs.

Such organizations can accept unlimited contributions from corporations, unions and individuals to spend on advertising supporting or opposing a candidate, but are not permitted to coordinate their spending with campaigns, though many employ former campaign operatives.

Top donors

No. 1 on the donor list by far is billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and family, who gave $26.5 million. Nearly all of it was spent in a fruitless effort to elevate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to the GOP presidential nomination through donations to the pro-Gingrich super PAC “

Published: Friday 2 March 2012
Here’s our guide to the top 10 super PAC contributors through Jan. 31, the latest date for which donors have been required to disclose.

The coming election cycle will likely be the most expensive in history. Thanks to Citizens United and other recent court decisions, individuals, corporations and unions can make unlimited donations to so-called super PACs that support a candidate. The money is flowing in. So, exactly who is donating, and what do they want?

Here’s our guide to the top 10 super PAC contributors through Jan. 31, the latest date for which donors have been required to disclose. Unless otherwise noted, all estimates of net worth are from Forbes. (See our PAC Tracker for an interactive breakdown of  READ FULL POST 4 COMMENTS

Published: Thursday 23 February 2012
“The Federal Communications Commission should forbid television broadcasters from charging for campaign ads, and we should peacefully demonstrate outside the FCC offices at 445 12th Street SW, in Washington, D.C., until it does so.”

Big money has always been a problem in American politics, but now humongous money threatens to capsize the ship of state. Billionaires are very, very good at getting rich, mostly through stealth monopolies, relatively sure things (e.g., casinos) or through riding investment bubbles. But they are seldom scientists, physicians or educators, and can often entertain rather cranky beliefs, such as climate change denial or misogyny. Thus, the GOP super wealthy, having produced the tea party in 2010, have now given us national candidates so extreme that they often seem to be running for Supreme Leader of Iran instead of president of the United States. Although the Citizens United ruling of the Supreme Court contributed to this problem, the culprits here are, fundamentally, the length of U.S. campaigns and the cost of television advertising for them.

Ari Berman has shown that about four-fifths of the money raised by super PACs in 2011 for the Republican primary contests was donated by only 196 individuals, who gave $100,000 or more each. Politics has become a game of the super rich, but the money they donate is significant only because of the way it is spent. An increasingly large percentage of it pays for television and radio commercials, and it is used by our new aristocracy to keep pet candidates alive. Newt Gingrich, for instance, might not have made it to South ...

Published: Wednesday 22 February 2012
“Huge donations may raise ethical issues.”

Thanks to a small number of wealthy individuals, the outside spending groups known as “super PACs” that are working to put the four leading GOP candidates in the White House collectively raised more than the candidates themselves in January.

Candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul raised a combined $21.1 million for the month, according to Federal Election Commission records, while the four primary super PACs backing them raised $22.1 million.

Donors to candidates number in the thousands, but they may only give $2,500 per candidate, per election. Super PAC donors, thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and a lower-cour ruling, can give unlimited amounts. The funds can come from billionaires, corporations and labor unions. So far this election, the funds have been spent overwhelmingly on advertising disparaging competing candidates.

Super PACs are prohibited from coordinating their activities with the candidates.

The average donation to a super PAC filing in January was $63,000, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of FEC data.

Two of the super PACs — “Winning Our Future,” supporting Newt Gingrich and “Endorse Liberty,” supporting Ron Paul — are dominated by a single donor.

Of the $11 million Winning Our Future raised in January, $10 million — about 90 percent of the total for the month — came from ...

Published: Wednesday 22 February 2012
“Bottom line: Whoever emerges as the GOP standard-bearer will be deeply indebted to a handful of people, each of whom will expect a good return on their investment.”

Have you heard of William Dore, Foster Friess, Sheldon Adelson, Harold Simmons, Peter Thiel, or Bruce Kovner? If not, let me introduce them to you. They’re running for the Republican nomination for president.

I know, I know. You think Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney are running. They are – but only because the people listed in the first paragraph have given them huge sums of money to do so. In a sense, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul, and Romney are the fronts. Dore et al. are the real investors.

According to January’s Federal Election Commission report, William Dore and Foster Friess supplied more than three-fourths of the $2.1 million raked in by Rick Santorum’s super PAC in January. Dore, president of the Dore Energy Corporation in Lake Charles, Louisiana, gave $1 million; Freis, a fund manager based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, gave $669,000 ...

Published: Tuesday 21 February 2012
“Sheldon Adelson and family contribute $11 million”

Casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson and his family have pumped $11 million into the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC “Winning Our Future,” about 84 percent of the $13.1 million the group has raised so far.

And that doesn’t include the additional $10 million sources say the multibillionaire is expected to kick in to help his political ally and friend Gingrich become competitive again. Gingrich has fallen behind the two frontrunners, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, in national polls.

The PAC’s new filing with the Federal Election Commission shows two separate $5 million donations were made last month by Adelson and wife Miriam, an Israeli-born physician with dual citizenship. Another $1 million was donated in December to the super PAC by three relatives of the Adelsons, bringing the total family contribution to $11 million.

Without the Adelsons’ largesse, the PAC has raised $2.1 million.

The PAC’s latest filing shows the next largest donation in January came from Texas mega-GOP donor Harold Simmons, who gave $500,000, bringing his total contributions to the super PAC to $1 million.

Together, the Adelson family donations have been the largest publicly reported thus far this election cycle. They have been used to pay for a mix of negative television advertisements against Romney and positive ads to promote Gingrich.

Those donations, respectively, helped to fund hard-hitting and expensive advertising drives before the South Carolina primary — which Gingrich won — and the Florida primary, which he lost, and where he was badly outspent by the ...

Published: Saturday 18 February 2012
Total giving from billionaire and family would reach $21 million.

One fundraiser, who has spoken with Adelson in the last week, said that the wealthy supporter of Jewish causes indicated to him that he is still committed to keeping Gingrich in the race.

It is unclear whether the pro-Gingrich PAC’s ads will attack frontrunners former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum or burnish Gingrich’s conservative image and record — or both.

Rick Tyler, a senior advisor to the super PAC, declined to comment about any further donations coming from Adelson. Tyler said that he was “optimistic” that the super PAC would be able to run an advertising campaign prior to super Tuesday, but “to be effective, we would need a significant infusion of cash.”

READ FULL POST 4 COMMENTS

Published: Thursday 16 February 2012
“How the Politics of the Super Rich Became American Politics.”

At a time when it’s become a cliché to say that Occupy Wall Street has changed the nation’s political conversation -- drawing long overdue attention to the struggles of the 99% -- electoral politics and the 2012 presidential election have become almost exclusively defined by the 1%. Or, to be more precise, the .0000063%. Those are the 196 individual donors who have provided nearly 80% of the money raised by super PACs in 2011 by giving $100,000 or more each.

These political action committees, spawned by the Supreme Court’s 5-4Citizens United decision in January 2010, can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations, or unions for the purpose of supporting or opposing a political candidate. In theory, super PACs are legally prohibited from coordinating directly with a candidate, though in practice they’re just a murkier extension of political campaigns, performing all the functions of a traditional campaign without any of the corresponding accountability.

If 2008 was ...

Published: Wednesday 15 February 2012
“So there you have it — American politics has developed into a game for the fun and profit of a few superrich narcissists.”

The rich are different from you and me, but the really, really, really rich are also different from the merely rich.

For example, the rich can buy caviar and Champagne, but the Triple-R Rich can buy entire presidential campaigns.

Take Sheldon Adelson, the moneybags who's pumped $11 million so far into Newt Gingrich's right-wing run. He has single-handedly kept Gingrich's White House ambitions alive. Without this one guy's money, The Newt would've been long gone. Thanks a lot, Sheldon.

But Adelson can easily afford to roll the dice on a far-out candidate. This global casino baron hauled in $3.3 million in pay last year. Not for a year — that's what his hourly take was. In other words, his $11-million bet on Newt, which altered the Republican presidential race, was nothing — less than three-and-a-half hours of one of Sheldon's workdays.

Even Rick Santorum, who's so far to the right that his left brain has entirely atrophied from lack of use, is actually in the running for the GOP nomination. He insists that people are flocking to him because of the power of his ideas. Sure, Rick — and the power of Foster Friess' money.

This little-known Wall Street multimillionaire has long been a partner in the Koch brothers' plutocratic cabal and a steady funder of right-wing Christian politics. Friess modestly claims that God is "the ...

Published: Friday 10 February 2012
“Once again [President Obama] has failed to take that case for economic justice to the American people and instead validated the Republican assault on what remains of our democracy.”

Let’s just dip our fingers in purple ink and pose for photos now that voting has the same significance for us as it had for those Iraqis who got conned into thinking they were participating in some grand democratic experiment.

Our own elections, the ones our government has modeled for the world, are a hoax. What other word should we use to describe this year’s presidential election, whose outcome will turn on which party’s super PACs gets the most generous bribes from billionaires? The Republicans, enabled by decisions of a Supreme Court they still control, were the first out of the gate and are far more culpable in destroying our system of popular governance. But the Democrats, no less committed to winning at any cost to political principle, have now jumped in. 

The generally reserved New York Times editorial page responded to the Obama campaign’s decision to seek super PAC funding with a scathing editorial headlined “Another Campaign for Sale.” The Times reminded that Barack Obama, in his State of the Union speech two years ago, called out the Supreme Court justices sitting before him over their decision to free special interests from campaign spending limits. “I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests,” Obama said then. “They should be decided by the American people.” But sadly, as the Times editorial noted this week, “On Monday, the President abandoned that fundamental principle ...

Published: Thursday 2 February 2012
“Attendance by billionaire casino mogul could be indication of big conservative support to come.”

Billionaire casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson seems to be signaling his intention to plow millions more into conservative groups to influence this year’s elections, in addition to $10 million he and his wife gave a super PAC backing Newt Gingrich. For the first time, Adelson, who is worth an estimated $21.5 billion, and his Israeli born physician wife Miriam attended a mega donor conference sponsored by the billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch.

The recent gathering, a twice-a-year event that began about eight years ago, was held in late January at a resort in Palm Springs. It typically draws deep pocketed givers, a few members of Congress and conservative leaders eagerly seeking big checks for their pet projects. Fundraisers say that this year’s winter event included an appearance by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who has been a guest at other Koch events. Neither Cantor’s office nor Adelson’s press shop, responded to requests for comment.

Fundraisers familiar with Koch spending plans for this year say that the brothers and their large network of allied donors could pump as much as $200 million into electoral drives run by outside groups to help Republicans win the Senate and the White House and keep control of the House.

The Adelsons are weighing financial help to some groups that had a presence at the Koch conference but it’s unclear which ones are at the top of his prospect list, say fundraisers. Probably the most influential group that’s been at recent conferences has been Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots lobbying and political advocacy powerhouse that was started by the Koch Brothers in 2004.

Adelson has ...

Published: Thursday 2 February 2012
“After the Citizens United edict, Adelson can go all in to push his willing servant into the White House.”

Wow, January's gone already — time really flies when you're having Republican presidential primaries! And what better time than Groundhog Day to poke into that warren of feral Republican ideologues and see what the heck is going on.

Already, four of the GOP contenders have had to drop out — Michele Bachmann because she was just too wacky, Jon Huntsman because he was too sane, Herman Cain because he was too exposed and Rick Perry because he was too dimwitted.

But the greatest surprise is the sudden surge of the Adelson campaign. Little-known until now, Adelson was the big winner in South Carolina, came from nowhere to a second-place finish in the Florida primary, and looks to have the political kick needed to go the distance.

Never heard of Adelson? It consists of the married duo of Sheldon and Miriam, neither of whom are actually on any ballot. Rather, they are running on the Money Ticket.

Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas is a global casino baron who holds a $21 billion personal fortune. He has long been a major funder of far-right-wing causes, and this year he is placing an extra-big bet on his old political consort, Newt Gingrich. When Newt's presidential bid nearly flatlined after his electoral collapses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sheldon rushed in with emergency CPR — Cash-Powered Resuscitation. This one rich guy wrote a $5 million check to "Winning Our Future," Gingrich's Super PAC. Sheldon's money was injected directly into toxic attack ads against Mitt Romney in South Carolina's primary, jolting Newt's campaign back to life.

Gingrich still lacked the financial vitality to match Romney's media buy in Florida's pricy primary, however. No worries, though — Miriam Adelson stepped in to infuse Winning Our Future with another $5 million jolt of CPR. The Gingrich campaign, you see, is a vessel for the Adelson campaign, and word is that this one READ FULL POST 8 COMMENTS

Published: Wednesday 1 February 2012
“The details that emerged late Tuesday night in reports to the Federal Election underscored the outsized influence wealthy individuals are having on the 2012 race.”

The new role that the super-rich play in electoral politics began to emerge with greater clarity Tuesday as recently formed "super PACs" publicly reported their donors and expenses for 2011.

Restore Our Future, the super PAC backing Mitt Romney's candidacy, raised $30 million during 2011, thanks in part to separate $1-million donations from three New York-based hedge fund executives: Paul Singer, Robert Mercer and Julian Robertson. Two privately held corporations each gave $1 million to Romney as well.

A committee backing Newt Gingrich kept the former House speaker's candidacy alive and on the airwaves in December, thanks to donations from relatives of gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson.

Tuesday's filings did not include the $10 million that Adelson and his wife gave to a Gingrich-allied super PAC in January, but they did reveal that the entrepreneur's stepchildren separately gave a total of $1 million to the fund, known as Winning Our Future. That group also received a $500,000 check from Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, whose company also gave $1 million to a super PAC backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The details that emerged late Tuesday night in reports to the Federal Election Commission - the first substantial financial disclosures made by the super PACs this cycle - underscored the outsized influence wealthy individuals are having on the 2012 race.

The reports also spotlighted the lopsided fundraising race between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to this new breed of political organizations. Although President Barack Obama is far outstripping his potential challengers when it comes to fundraising, GOP super PACs are pulling more money than their Democratic counterparts.

Simmons is now chasing Adelson as the biggest billionaire donor of the season. Tuesday's filings also showed that he gave $7 million to American Crossroads, a super PAC founded in part by Republican strategist Karl ...

Published: Monday 30 January 2012
“Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas-based global casino baron who has long been a major funder of far-right-wing causes, is Newt Gingrich’s very special political pal.”

Already, four of the top GOP presidential contenders have dropped out. Michele Bachmann went first, because she was too wacky, followed by Jon Huntsman, because he was too sane. Herman Cain gave up because he was too exposed, and Rick Perry because he was too dim-witted.

But the greatest surprise is the sudden surge of the Adelson campaign. Little-known until now, Adelson was the big winner in South Carolina, has made his mark in Florida, and looks to have the political kick needed to go the distance.

Never heard of the Adelson campaign? It's the married duo of Sheldon and Miriam, neither of whom is actually on the ballot. Rather, they are running on the cash ticket.

 

Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas-based global casino baron who has long been a major funder of far-right-wing causes, is Newt Gingrich's very special political pal.

When Newt's presidential bid nearly flat-lined after his electoral collapses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sheldon rushed in with emergency CPR: Cash-Powered Resuscitation. This one rich ...

Published: Thursday 26 January 2012
“Here’s a committed devotee of tooth-and-claw capitalism — replete with 8-year-olds working as janitors — campaigning with a pro-worker film of which Ken Loach would be proud, paid for by a rabidly anti-union billionaire who thinks Israel should bomb Iran and drive the Palestinians into the sea.”

Poor Romney. He's back in the Newt nightmare. Here comes the portly Georgian, brushing aside the guards outside Romney's hotel suite, kicking open the bedroom door, seizing Romney by the throat ... Aaaargh! And then Romney is awake, realizing that this is a cold-sweat nightmare that will last ... maybe until they close in Florida on Jan. 31; maybe until Super Tuesday on March 6, when nine states hold their primaries.

We left Romney amidst the flush of victory in New Hampshire, with polls in South Carolina showing him a solid 10 points ahead of Gingrich, who made a poor showing in New Hampshire on top of a fourth place finish in Iowa below the Catholic zealot Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. Santorum's a faded force now. (The fact that he and his wife boast of having taken their dead baby home from the hospital and placed it between their two living children, telling them that "Gabriel's an angel now" may have sat ill with some voters.)

Gingrich burned for revenge for his rough treatment in New Hampshire by Romney's campaign commercials. But how, on a tight timeline, to acquaint South Carolina Republicans with Romney's infamies?

He needed money, lots of it, double-quick.

In the old days there were certain pettifogging constraints on how much a billionaire could lavish on his favored candidate. But then came the "Citizens United" decision by the U.S. Supreme Court (split 5-4), issued in January 2010, ruling that the First Amendment, protecting free speech, prohibits the government from placing limits on independent spending for political purposes by corporations and unions. As Ralph Nader correctly pointed out at the time, "With this decision, corporations can now directly pour vast amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars."

Enter 78-year-old Sheldon Adelson, the world's ...

Published: Wednesday 25 January 2012
“Casino mogul’s wife gives $5 million to pro-Gingrich group”

The Israeli-born wife of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is matching her husband and placing her own $5 million bet on a super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich in the upcoming Florida primary.

The gift came from Miriam Adelson, according to sources familiar with husband Sheldon’s previous $5 million donation to the super PAC “Winning Our Future.” The funds, in the form of a wire transfer, are expected to be received by the PAC on Tuesday.

The second $5 million infusion the pro-Gingrich PAC from the physician-wife of the 78-year-old Adelson could be crucial to Gingrich’s chances of winning the Jan. 31 primary, where Mitt Romney’s campaign and supporting super PAC have an early and sizable head start in advertising spending.

In South Carolina, Sheldon Adelson’s $5 million donation to the PAC basically bankrolled its hard-hitting negative ad blitz, which totaled almost $3 million, according to Federal Election Commission records.

The ads heavily targeted former Massachusetts Gov. Romney’s long career running the buyout firm Bain Capital. In some cases, Bain made tens of millions of dollars in its buyout deals but ...

Published: Wednesday 25 January 2012
“Never before in the history of American politics has a single couple given more money to a single candidate and had a bigger impact”

Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner, is now the poster boy for what’s terribly wrong with our campaign-finance system. Adelson, you may recall, had, before the South Carolina Republican primary, donated $5 million to the pro-Gingrich Super Pac “Winning Our Future” – giving Newt a pile of money for negative advertising against Mitt Romney in South Carolina.

Adelson has done it again. He and his wife Marian have cut another $5 million check for Gingrich to go negative on Romney in Florida. The money won’t go as far as it did in South Carolina – TV ads cost a lot more in Florida – but it’s enough to give the Grinch a solid footing.

And, who knows? The Adelsons are billionaires. They might decide to put in another $5 million or perhaps $20 million into Gingrich’s Super Pac. The point is, there’s no limit.

Do you know who Sheldon and Marian Adelson are? Do you know what Gingrich has promised them, or what they think they’ll get out of a Grinch presidency? I don’t. But if Newt becomes President of the United States, they’ll be singularly responsible. And we better find out, because Newt will owe them big time.

Forget the Lincoln Bedroom. The Adelsons and their kids will have the run of the White House, including the Oval Office. Hey, they’ll take over the Old Executive Building next door and turn it into a casino.

Never before in the history of American politics has a single couple given more money to a single candidate and had a bigger impact – all courtesy of the Supreme Court and its grotesque decisions that speech is money and corporations are people under the First Amendment.

Published: Tuesday 10 January 2012
“Fundraisers close to the billionaire say he will pour at least a few million dollars this year into the super PAC American Crossroads, or its affiliate Crossroads GPS, to help the GOP nominee — whether it is Gingrich or someone else.”

The $5 million check that casino mogul Sheldon Adelson wrote to help his friend Newt Gingrich win his party's presidential nomination is expected to be followed by much more support aimed at helping the GOP's eventual winner, including several million dollars for a Karl Rove-created group.

Adelson’s contribution went to “Winning Our Future,” a super PAC that is supporting the former House Speaker for president, say GOP fundraisers familiar with the donation.

But fundraisers close to the billionaire say he will pour at least a few million dollars this year into the super PAC American Crossroads, or its affiliate Crossroads GPS, to help the GOP nominee — whether it is Gingrich or someone else.

Adelson, the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands, has been close to Rove since he was the top political guru to former President George W. Bush. Adelson wrote a seven-figure check in 2010 to the group’s nonprofit arm, Crossroads GPS, say fundraisers with ties to Adelson and Rove. The group is not required to reveal its donors.

Ron Reese, a spokesman for Adelson and his sprawling casino empire, declined to comment. Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for the two Crossroads groups, said that the GPS arm “does not comment on who does or does not donate to the organization.”

Super PACs can accept unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations and use the funds to support or oppose candidates, but are banned from coordinating with their campaigns.

Just how much more Gingrich’s super PAC receives from Adelson is expected to depend on how the Georgian does in the January 21 South Carolina primary, where polls show he’s lost his earlier lead to Mitt Romney. Adelson has long been a supporter of Gingrich. The two men ...

Published: Tuesday 20 December 2011
Adelson could be a huge help, but a federal criminal probe of his Las Vegas Sands casino empire may prove to be a liability for the Gingrich campaign.

When Newt Gingrich and other White House aspirants gave political pitches at a forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition in early December, the leading financial benefactor for the group and Gingrich in recent years was absent: multibillionaire Sheldon Adelson, who was in Asia tending to his sprawling and controversial casino empire.

The absence of Adelson, whose net worth is greater than $20 billion, was notable considering his close financial links to the conservative pro-Israel advocacy group and Gingrich. What’s more, Adelson had recently given signals to some old friends with the coalition and others that he would pump millions of dollars into efforts via a “super PAC” to promote Gingrich’s White House prospects, say GOP fundraisers.

That kind of outside muscle seems urgently needed to sustain Gingrich’s campaign, which has begun to lose momentum, according to the latest polls.

Losing ground in Iowa, nationally

Gingrich has lost his lead in Iowa to Ron Paul according to one poll and is in a dead heat with Mitt Romney in the latest CNN national poll — thanks in part to a barrage of negative advertising by his opponents and their allies.

Adelson could be a huge help, but a federal criminal probe of his Las Vegas Sands casino empire may prove to be a liability for the Gingrich campaign.

Adelson’s expected investment in a pro-Gingrich super PAC — which can accept unlimited donations from individuals and corporations and spend as much as it wants to support ...

Syndicate content
Make your voice heard.
Write for NationofChange
The lead story in Thursday, March 21 2013 USA Today highlighted how “Corporate chiefs pull in $ 50...
As the economic outlook in Asia begins to look markedly rosier, businesses the continent over are...
Indoctrinating a new generation Is there anyone out there who still believes that Barack Obama,...
June 30th, 1960, Tanglewood, slipping in a side door and climbing to secluded seats high above the...
The social and political climate in the Unites States today is rife with a whole set of diverse...
How many more years until I’m old enough to drive? When will I finally turn 21? At what age should...
Gimme Shelter “Ooh well the storm is threatening, my very life’s at stake. Gimme gimme shelter...
M. J. Rosenberg Part I - Down with BDS, Up with the Two-State Solution Michael Jay Rosenberg is a...
The world of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) can be confusing, so once you’ve decided that a...
In today’s society, DNA testing can provide definitive answers to incredibly contentious questions...
In schools across the country, students are taught about American democracy. Phrases like “...
From the start the human race has been at odds with itself struggling between two distinct...
Part I - An Aggressive Anachronism Saudi Arabia is one of a handful of Middle East anachronisms: a...
At any time in your life, you might go through a money problem. While they don't seem that...
An average person would be working at a company. Everyone has to retire one day from their jobs....