The yo-yo string which most Republican candidates have ridden up and down this year is now featuring Newt Gingrich, and he looks to be on the downward slope. Public and private polling shows that his momentum has stalled, amidst an onslaught of negative ads, particularly in Iowa. Much of the conservative establishment has unleashed its heavy artillery on Gingrich to stop him in his tracks. The Washington Examiner endorsed Mitt Romney. National Review published practically an entire issue dedicated to destroying Gingrich.
But while even Gingrich has begun to downplay expectations, hoping rather than sweeping the field to “hang on” until South Carolina, he does hold a few advantages. First of all, it’s not clear who will take his place among the front-runners, with the rest of the field either unacceptable to the same establishment forces or already having experienced their turn on the yo-yo. Second, it appears that the neoconservative establishment, one leg of the conservative movement stool, has warmed to Gingrich. Rudy Giuliani and even Dick Cheney have praised him of late. And third, there’s this guy with $20 million to invest.
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is planning to direct $20 million to an outside group backing Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, multiple sources told POLITICO – the first answer to urgent pleas from allies to the former speaker’s long-time billionaire supporters.
After leaving Congress, Gingrich cultivated a network of a few dozen uber-wealthy backers who poured tens of millions of dollars into a network of groups that helped him maintain a foothold in politics. Now, operatives supporting his presidential campaign are asking those same donors to write fat checks to a suite of new super PACs they hope can spend big on ads to offset Gingrich campaign fundraising that had lagged behind his rivals [...]
Adelson spokesman Ron Reese denied the $20 million commitment, saying “there’s no truth to any speculation that Mr. Adelson has made a commitment to either contribute or raise this amount of money.”
That denial is important, and this could all turn out to be Politico-manufactured nonsense, which wouldn’t be the first time. But I want to focus on the fact that in modern America, it’s perfectly normal – and perfectly legal – for one billionaire to invest $20 million in the candidate for President of his choice. This is what life looks like in a post-Citizens United world. Greg Sargent explains:
It turns out there are scenarios under which this might not be legal. If someone who works directly for Gingrich’s campaign solicted this money in any way from Adelson, that would violate Federal laws that prohibit coordination between campaigns and super PACs.
But here’s the interesting twist: The scenario under which this is legal is, at bottom, not significantly different from having Gingrich’s campaign aides directly solicit such contributions.
Thanks to Citizens United and a subsequent court decision, Super PACs can raise unlimited sums, and spend it all advocating directly for or against a candidate, as long as there’s no coordination between the Super PAC and the candidate’s campaign. But this prohibition against coordination doesn’t really have much signficance in the real world.
Consider that one of the pro-Gingrich Super PACs that may receive this $20 million, Winning Our Future, is headed by Becky Burkett, who was the lead fundraiser for Gingrich’s main political operation for years, American Solutions. That group raised a total of $54 million.
What this means: Someone who has been closely consulting with Gingrich for years, and has spent years in direct contact with all his donors and advisers, is suddenly in a position to raise unlimited sums to put behind his candidacy — including $20 million from one man.
Indeed, if you read the whole Politico article, you’ll find plenty of hefty donations to Gingrich-allied SuperPACs, from millionaires and corporations who have given lots of money to American Solutions in the past.
So this is the new landscape, where billionaires and corporations can give unlimited sums for direct advocacy of political candidates, as well as to destroy the opposition. Citizens United created a monster.