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December 07, 2012

Mr. Adelson Goes to Washington

By Jeremy Miller

Sheldon Adelson by Bectrigger on WikipediaYesterday it was reported that casino mega-mogul Sheldon Adelson came to Washington for a sit down with House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and senior Republican officials. Oh, to have been a fly on those walls.

While Mr. Adelson did not get a direct return on the nearly $150 million he spent on this year’s elections, with most of the candidates he backed losing, his money clearly did buy him access to the Republican leadership. We suspect he may be trying to use that access to gut the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Currently Mr. Adelson’s international casino empire is the subject of two federal criminal investigations into whether he violated the FCPA by paying bribing Chinese officials to expand his Macau casino operation. In the midst of this year’s election, Mr. Adelson publicly stated that the Justice Department investigation was a primary motivation for his unprecedented donations to Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, and other conservative candidates.

Last year CREW and a broad coalition successfully fought back attempts by groups like the Chamber of Commerce – another recipient of Mr. Adelson’s largess – to “reform” the FCPA. These so-called reforms would have significantly weakened this critical anti-corruption statute that has become a model worldwide for cracking down on foreign bribery. No doubt Mr. Adelson wants the FCPA on the chopping block once again in the 113th Congress, and Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor likely will oblige.

That Mr. Adelson spent millions on losing candidates hasn’t deterred him from making additional donations to the GOP. With personal wealth of $20 billion, the $150 million Mr. Adelson spent last cycle is just a drop in the bucket, especially if he can recoup that amount in one day. Mr. Adelson recently told the Wall Street Journal he plans to “spend that much and more” in future political campaigns. If the FCPA investigation continues onward, maybe he’ll be directing that spending from jail.

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