Casino baron Sheldon Adelson, a walking indictment of the Citizens United ruling, has decided to use his billions to influence government officials to crackdown on internet gambling. Adelson had previously come to the public’s attention by spending hundreds of millions of dollars against President Obama in 2012 using, among other things, Super PACs.
The new push against Internet gambling is Adelson’s biggest foray into a legislative debate directly related to his business, and it sets up a test of the influence that a mega-donor can exert when lawmakers know he is willing to spend enormous sums to influence elections.
Adelson has begun hiring lobbyists and public relations experts in Washington and in state capitals nationwide to press his case in what is shaping up to be one of the most heavily lobbied debates of 2014.
The line of attack will be that online gambling markets itself to children somehow because no one cares about the children like a casino billionaire. The spokespeople for Adelson’s campaign to put his competitors out of business will be some familiar mercenaries from both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Adelson has hired three former elected officials as national co-chairs to speak on behalf of the coalition: Wellington Webb (D), the first black mayor of Denver; former U.S. senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.); and former New York governor George Pataki (R).
Blanche Lincoln? Talk about a poster child for Washington’s culture of corruption. Then again, anyone with any integrity whatsoever would not do this. When you get to the bottom of the barrel you get bottom feeders.
But will the whims of a billionaire move the world? Can corruption this blatant succeed on a national level? This will be an interesting test case in how open bribery can be in our society and whether it works in the most cynical of cases.
Photo by Mblumber under Creative Commons license.