Billionaire Adelson’s potential influence over Harry Reid is the perfect, albeit bizarre, example of how Washington is broken
If you need proof that the wealthiest in America control our politicians, look no further than billionaire Sheldon Adelson and Democratic Senator Harry Reid. The Billionaire casino magnate and GOP super donor is looking to the soon to be Senate minority leader for help in pushing his personal agenda.
In a nutshell, Adelson wants Reid to prohibit online gambling anywhere within the United States. To do so, Congress must close a loophole in federal law that allows the states to operate and regulate online gambling.
You may be asking yourself a few questions right about now. For one, why would Harry Reid, a Democrat, want to help an extremely conservative businessman? Furthermore, why would an outspoken critic of dark money in Washington be willing to help out one of its biggest contributors? Further still, why would a man who’s made billions off of gambling want to ban online gambling? The answer to all these odd questions is of course; money.
Earlier this year, Republicans introduced the “Restore America’s Wire Act”, a bill that would federally ban Internet gaming. However, a swell in conservative opposition to RAWA concluded in the cancellation of a Committee hearing on the bill.
If the ban is not in place by the time the new congress takes over in January, it will likely never come to pass, and it is why Adelson needs Reid right now. In order to avoid a government shutdown, congress must pass an omnibus spending bill which are often negotiated behind closed doors. A perfect place to sneak in Adelson’s gambling ban.
Both Harry Reid and Sheldon Adelson live in Nevada of course, the gambling capital of the country (if not the world.) Reid is normally a reliable backer of the entire casino industry as a whole, given its role in his state’s economy. But it’s possible he’s playing favorites now given the hard election fight ahead of him in 2016.
Reid has said in the past that “the flood of dark money into our nation’s political system poses the greatest threat to our democracy that I have witnessed during my tenure in public service.” He has also gone out of his way to rightfully demonize the Billionaire Koch Brothers for donating millions of dollars to Republicans in order to increase their own wealth.
On the other hand, Reid said that Sheldon Adelson is different because he isn’t in it for the money. According to Reid, Adelson donates money because he has certain ideological views. As if to say that a wealthy man who buys politicians to satisfy his own ideology is perfectly alright.
Reid may be wrong to defend a man who donates an estimated $150 million to Republicans in 2012. But he is also wrong to say that Adelson isn’t in it for the money, at least partially.
As a person who’s become the 11th richest American as a casino owner, Adelson believes that online gambling will hurt the poorest of Americans and should therefore be illegal. A legitimate point I suppose, it’s always the poor people who suffer the most. But the poor have always frequented land-based casinos, gambled on sports and played the state lottery. Betting is betting, regardless of where and how it takes place.
Adelson’s moral objection to online gambling should prevent him from creating his own online casino. His wealth combined with this moral objection however, should not be used to influence congress to prevent or shutdown his competition in places he refuses to go.
When all is said and done, Harry Reid won’t be taking money from Adelson should he bend to his will, nor will Adelson be offering money to him. Instead, it will come down to whether Adelson chooses to donate money to Reid’s probable 2016 Republican opponent. Currently that opponent is looking like present Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, who has received a lot of Adelson’s money in the past.
Unfortunately, politics in Washington is normally seen these days as a place where rich people do favors for other rich people for money. Simple really. In this case, we have a man opposed to influential money in politics, who might help to ban online gambling for an influential casino owner, so that he doesn’t give money to another guy. It does sounds ridiculous, but it will likely happen. Adelson’s chief lobbyist has said “The die is cast on this” and added “The cake is baked.”
If Harry Reid goes along with this, it will speak volumes about how far a leading politician, a Democrat on top of it, is willing to go to get re-elected. It’s all right in front of us, they don’t even try and hide it anymore.