Looser restrictions on political spending allow contributions to lawmakers to swell
Looser restrictions on the amount that businessmen can spend on political contributions have seen an up swell in political donations led by Sheldon Adelson's campaign against online gambling, the publication Opensecrets reports.
In April this year in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the US Supreme Court struck down aggregate limits on how much an individual can give to candidates, political parties and political action committees (PACs), meaning that well-organised donors can now spend almost unlimited amounts, while still abiding by per-candidate and per-committee limits.
Opensecrets.org specifically mentions Adelson and his campaign against internet gambling, outlining his financial support for Senator Lindsey Graham and his bid to restore the Wire Act and ban internet gambling at federal level.
Adelson's Las Vegas Sands company paid out $290,000 during the second quarter of this year lobbying solely on the issue of online gambling or the two bills that would ban it, Opensecrets notes.
That brings its yearly lobbying total to $460,000 – spending in six months just $10,000 shy of what LVS spent in all of 2008, the year of its biggest-ever lobbying spend.
Caesars Entertainment, which supports online gambling legalisation, is spending even more on lobbying, paying $980,000 to advocate on various issues including online gaming in the second quarter, bringing its total so far this year to almost $1.8 million. That's already close to the $1.9 million Caesars invested in lobbying in 2013, according to Opensecrets.
Another major company with a positive take on internet gambling, Churchill Downs, Inc, spent $95,000 lobbying in the second quarter, mainly to oppose the Adelson ban. And Boyd Gaming, also pro-online gambling, spent $230,000, mostly on the same issue.
So far this year MGM Resorts has reported spending $240,000 on several issues, including online gaming, which it supports.
Noticeably absent from the big spenders is Wynn Resorts, which has not lobbied the issue since 2013, when it spent just $80,000 on "international taxation and internet gambling issues." Owner Steve Wynn has over the years blown hot and cold on internet gambling and is currently cold.
Openscrets reports that no other political donor comes close to Adelson in his support for the Republican Party and its candidates in the form of conferences and donations; he has reportedly spent in total over $92 million on candidates and causes in the 2012 political cycle alone.
He also supported the 2011 presidential nomination run of Newt Gingrich with $15 million in 2011, and supported Mitt Romney with $30 million in his presidential ambitions.
In June this year, Adelson gave $32,400 – the maximum allowed per year — to the National Republican Congressional Committee and another $32,400 to the Republican National Committee on the same day, bringing his total political donations to at least $155,500 this cycle.
Adelson family members were also generous to the Republicans; his wife Miriam and daughter Shelley paid out $32,400 each to both the RNC and the RNCC in June, and Shelley gave an additional $32,400 to the NRSC, bringing her total to the same as her father's: $155,500. Miriam Adelson also gave at least $155,500 in total.
"Adelson's stepdaughter, Yasmin Lukatz, and husband Oren Lukatz chipped in too," Opensecrets claims.
"They both gave $32,400 each to the NRSC and again to the NRCC on the same day in late June.
"For a fine arts photographer, Oren Lukatz has rather deep pockets – and his political donations have closely mirrored his father-in-law's.
"Besides his gifts to the party committees, he and his wife, described in FEC filings as an "entrepreneur," also gave to Elan Carr, a House candidate in California and Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), both regular recipients of Adelson's largess.
"The couple alone spent more than $200,000 this cycle, while the family of five donated at least $670,000 for various GOP candidates and committees."
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