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Posts Tagged ‘Sheldon Adelson’

Think Progress Justice

By Rebecca Leber  on Aug 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS (an affiliate of the super PAC American Crossroads) and the Koch brothers’ Americans For Prosperity have spent more on TV ads than every super PAC combined, according to a ProPublica analysis of CMAG data. Unlike super PACs, these groups do not have to disclose donors. That has allowed a handful of unknown billionaires  — like Sheldon Adelson and the Kochs — to funnel millions into attack ads through outside groups.

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The New York Times
By , NEIL GOUGH and
Published: August 13, 2012

When Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, needed something done in China, he often turned to his company’s “chief Beijing representative,” a mysterious businessman named Yang Saixin.

Mr. Yang arranged meetings for Mr. Adelson with senior Chinese officials; acted as a frontman on several ambitious projects for Mr. Adelson’s company, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation; and intervened on the Sands’s behalf with Chinese regulators. Mr. Yang even had his daughter take Mr. Adelson’s wife, Miriam, shopping when she was in Beijing.

“Adelson and I had a good relationship,” Mr. Yang said in a recent interview in Hong Kong. “He should thank me.”

Mr. Yang joined the Sands in 2007 as the company worked to protect its interests in Macau, where its gambling revenues were mushrooming, and pressed ahead with plans for a resort in mainland China. Boasting of ties to the People’s Liberation Army and China’s security apparatus, Mr. Yang was hired for his guanxi, that mixture of relationships and favors that is critical to opening doors in China, according to former executives.

But today, Mr. Yang, along with tens of millions of dollars in payments the Sands made through him in China, is a focus of a wide-ranging federal investigation into potential bribery of foreign officials and other matters in China and Macau, according to people with direct knowledge of the inquiries.

The investigations are unfolding as Mr. Adelson has become an increasing presence in this year’s presidential election, contributing at least $35 million to Republican groups. On Tuesday, Mitt Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, is to appear at a fund-raiser at the Sands’s Venetian casino in Las Vegas; Mr. Adelson is likely to attend, a person close to him said.

In the political arena, Mr. Adelson is perhaps best known as a hawkish defender of Israel. But whatever the outcome of the inquiries involving his businesses in China, an examination of those activities suggests a keen interest in Washington’s China policy and highlights the degree to which politics and profits are often intertwined for Mr. Adelson.

The Sands has faced a conundrum in China as a casino company whose fortunes are heavily dependent on its operations in a country where gambling is illegal, except in Macau. The company relies on the good will of Chinese officials, who mete out approvals and have the power to curtail the flow of mainland visitors. As a result, Mr. Adelson has sought to use financial clout and connections to exert political influence at the highest levels of government.

On the front lines of those efforts was Mr. Yang, who was paid $30,000 a month by the company before he was fired in 2009, he said. At times, he acted as Mr. Adelson’s personal guide to the Chinese establishment. Among the dignitaries he took Mr. Adelson to see was Wan Jifei, a leading international trade official whose father had been vice premier. That led to a lunch with other trade officials at the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square.

The Sands later hired Mr. Wan’s daughter, Bao Bao, a socialite and jewelry designer, to do public relations. And the trade agency Mr. Wan ran became a partner in the Sands’s biggest venture, the Adelson Center for U.S.-China Enterprise.

Mr. Yang denies resorting to bribery and says he actually lost money on his dealings with the Sands.

“I’m really being bullied because I helped Venetian and Adelson do so many things,” he said. “I’m in the middle, and on both sides everybody’s pointing at me.”

The broad outlines of the mainland China investigation were reported last week by The Wall Street Journal. But a review of more than a thousand pages of corporate records in China, as well as interviews with former Sands executives and others, provides a more detailed picture.

The documents show that the Sands paid out more than $70 million to companies tied to Mr. Yang for the trade center and for a Chinese basketball team the Sands sponsored. But several million dollars appear to be unaccounted for after the projects were suddenly shut down by the company, The New York Times found.

What became of any missing money and whether any of it wound up in the hands of Chinese officials are among the questions being examined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation Sheldon Adelson. AFP PHOTO / AARON TAM

Reuters | Posted: 08/04/2012  1:25 pm Updated: 08/04/2012  2:55 pm

CHICAGO, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Las Vegas Sands Corp,  controlled by billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, is  the target of a federal investigation into possible violations  of U.S. money-laundering laws, the Wall Street Journal reported  on Saturday.

The Los Angeles U.S. attorney’s office is looking into the  casino company’s handling of the receipt of millions of dollars  from a Mexican businessman, later indicted in the United States  for drug trafficking, and a former California businessman, later  convicted of taking illegal kickbacks, the Journal said, citing  lawyers and others involved in the matter.

The transactions date from the mid-2000s.

The Journal said there are no indications that actions by  Adelson, who is the company’s chief executive officer and  largest shareholder, are being investigated.

The Los Angeles U.S. attorney could not be reached for  comment by Reuters on Saturday. A Sands spokesman was not  immediately available to comment to Reuters, but spokesman Ron  Reese told the Journal, “The company believes it has acted  properly and has not committed any wrongdoing.”

Reese said the company was cooperating with federal  investigators.

The timing of the investigation could open the Justice  Department to criticism that it is politically motivated, the  Journal said. Adelson is a major donor to the super PAC  supporting presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney  against President Barack Obama and plans to spend $100 million  on Republican candidates in November’s elections.

Adelson, who owns casinos in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore,  began this campaign season as a major donor to Newt Gingrich  before Gingrich dropped out of the Republican presidential race.  He has since switched his support to Romney and last month was  in Jerusalem with the candidate when Romney met Israeli Prime  Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who Adelson also strongly supports.

The Journal said the Las Vegas money-laundering  investigation focused on two “whales” – as big-money gamblers  are known – and whether Sands officials ignored warning signs  and did not alert federal authorities about millions of dollars  the gamblers had deposited.

The Journal identified one of the “whales” as Zhenli Ye Gon,  a Chinese-born Mexican national who was indicted in 2007 in the  United States on charges of dealing in materials used to make  methamphetamine.

The drug case was dismissed in 2009 but Ye Gon is still in  U.S. custody awaiting extradition to Mexico, where authorities  want to try him on drug trafficking and money laundering  charges, the Journal said, citing court records.

The Journal said Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, a former executive  with the Fry’s Electronics retail chain, also was under  scrutiny. Court filings in another case showed Siddiqui sent  more than $100 million to the Sands. Siddiqui was charged with  taking kickbacks from Fry’s vendors, pleaded guilty and is now  in prison.

U.S. authorities also are investigating the Sands to see if  there were breaches of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA),  which prohibits bribes to foreign officials by U.S. companies,  in its Macau operation.

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Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson speaks at a news conference for the Sands Cotai Central in Macau Wednesday, April 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

HuffPost

Peter H. Stone

Posted: 06/16/2012 12:24 am Updated: 06/16/2012  2:06 am

WASHINGTON — Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, whose net worth makes him one of the world’s richest men, is on a check-writing spree that will soon bring his total political contributions in this election cycle to at least $71 million, according to sources familiar with his spending. That money is spread across the spectrum of GOP super PACs, which are required to disclose donors, and nonprofits, which are not.

Adelson and his wife, Miriam, along with other family donations, have already reached $36 million, including $10 million to the Romney-backing super PAC Restore Our Future that was reported this week. But two GOP fundraisers familiar with his plans say that Adelson has given or pledged at least $35 million more to three conservative nonprofit groups: the Karl Rove-linked Crossroads GPS, another with ties to billionaires Charles and David Koch and a third with links to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Adelson, 78, is a staunch supporter of the Israeli right and a strong foe of American unions. In recent years, Adelson has been a major financier of GOP-allied groups, but has emerged this year as the consummate super donor in the wake of 2010 court rulings that permitted corporations, unions and individuals to supply unlimited amounts of money, sometimes anonymously, to independent groups that can advocate directly for candidates.

Adelson has told friends that he might give as much as $100 million in donations this year in support of GOP candidates and conservative issues. That target now seems easily within reach and could be surpassed, say the two GOP fundraisers with ties to the casino magnate.

Crossroads GPS — founded by GOP consultants Rove and Ed Gillespie in 2010 alongside the super PAC American Crossroads — could wind up as the major recipient of the casino titan’s largess, due to Adelson’s longstanding and close ties to Rove. Crossroads GPS has already received one $10 million cash infusion this cycle from Adelson, who, according to the two GOP fundraisers, recently committed to another donation of the same amount.

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Gawker-  By Mobutu Sese Seko

Feb 23, 2012  2:05 PM

The after effects of the Citizens United ruling shouldn’t shock anyone. Corporations were granted the ability to spend ungodly sums on campaigns, and guess what they’re doing?

They’re spending ungodly sums on campaigns.

There is one byproduct of this mess, though, that is unintentionally fun to observe: Americans get to watch billionaires hijack the election process like a bunch of shit-hammered uncles blindly destroying a pious family gathering we wanted to skip in the first place.

Currently, just five donors are controlling 25 percent of funds pouring into GOP super PACs. In the last week alone, faux cowboy Foster Friess made Rick Santorum’s “aaaiiiigh! intercourse!” campaign about aspirin and women’s knees, island builder Peter Thiel came to Ron Paul’s aid by upping his investment to $2.6 million, Sheldon Adelson gave Newt Gingrich another $10 million, and we learned that Mitt “I Like to Fire People” Romney has a huge backer in Frank “I Like to Sue Blogs out of Existence” VanderSloot.

(We won’t talk about VanderSloot here—because he likes to sue blogs out of existence—except to say that he looks like Alternate Universe Dick Cheney‘s opening-credits photo from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. He’s the one who knows about wine and shaving brushes.)

In years past, we would never have met these guys. Even as far back as 2000, if you wanted to be a billionaire who ran a campaign, you actually had to be the one campaigning. Ross Perot set the standard in 1992, opening the door for men like Steve Forbes.

Forbes, unfortunately, demonstrated how troublesome rich-guy candidacy could be: Namely, he proved that being rich is proof of nothing other than being rich (his major life accomplishment was emerging from Malcolm Forbes’ wife), and wanting to keep being rich is a shitty platform for the 270 million-plus Americans who are not. In later years, we came to think of Forbes as “the creepy version of Rory Gilmore’s grandpa from The Gilmore Girls,” but in 1996 and 2000, it was obvious why he steered any question back to the need for a flat tax. That stuck out. Herman Cain perfected this failing greedheaded tax formula by replying, “Nine, nine, nine…” endlessly on the stump, like he was going through some celestial voicemail, begging for an operator to come on the line and tell him what Libya is.

What Citizens United has done, however, is create a formula for actual campaign surrogacy. Billionaires with two ideas (“I want to keep being a billionaire!” and “Something else!”) can remit funds to the person whose job it is to have all the other ideas. It’s great fun. We’re lucky to get the chance to meet these guys.

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David Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries, attends a meeting of the Economic Club of New York, Monday, April 11, 2011. (AP)

Huff Post- First Posted: 02/ 3/2012  3:43 pm Updated: 02/ 3/2012  9:05 pm

By- Ryan Grim

WASHINGTON — At a private three-day retreat in California last weekend, conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch and about 250 to 300 other individuals pledged approximately $100 million to defeat President Obama in the 2012 elections.

A source who was in the room when the pledges were made told The Huffington Post that, specifically, Charles Koch pledged $40 million and David pledged $20 million.

The semi-annual, invitation-only meeting attracts wealthy donors, Republican politicians and conservative activists. Last year, hundreds of activists gathered outside the walled-off resort to protest the meeting. This year, however, the conference went off quietly.

“Conference organizers and their guests successfully slipped in and out of the Coachella Valley without being detected, by buying out nearly all of the 500-plus rooms at the Renaissance Esmeralda resort in Indian Wells,” reported The Desert Sun. “The resort closed its restaurants, locked down the grounds with private security guards and sent many workers home.”

This is the ninth straight year the Kochs have hosted the conference. As Politico reported last year, the meetings often adjourn “after soliciting pledges of support from the donors — sometimes totaling as much as $50 million — to nonprofit groups favored by the Kochs.”

The fact that the wealthy conservative donors pledged $100 million for the 2012 elections shows how intent they are on trying to get Obama out of office — and previews how intense, and likely nasty, the general election will be.

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Think Progress- By Josh Israel  on Feb 2, 2012 at 10:45 am

In recent years, billionaire oil magnates David and Charles Koch have bankrolled the Tea Party movement, Republican candidates, and efforts to deny the existence global warming.  But less noticed have been their series of twice-yearly strategy coordination meetings for wealthy right-wing donors.  These secret confabs have attracted Republicans like Govs. Rick Perry (R-TX) and Rick Scott (R-FL), as well as former Fox News Channel talker Glenn Beck, Supreme Court JusticesAntonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and executives from the oil, banking, and health insurance industries.

The most recent meeting attracted two newcomers: Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.  Between them, the Las Vegas casino-owner and his wife have reportedly plowed $10 million into a pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC and have donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican party committees and candidates already this cycle.

A Center for Public Integrity report suggests this may just be the beginning:

Adelson has recently indicated strong interest in backing other GOP allied groups, say fundraisers familiar with his giving. In 2010, Adelson wrote a seven figure check to Crossroads GPS, a non-profit advocacy group that doesn’t have to disclose its donors publicly which was co-founded by GOP super consultants Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie.

The story quotes unnamed fundraisers “familiar with Adelson,” the American Crossroads super PAC and the 501(c)(4) Crossroads GPS, as expecting Adelson to “pump a few million dollars more” into one of the Crossroads groups this year, to help defeat President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. They also say Adelson is also considering writing a check to the American Action Network, former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN)’s non-profit, to help preserve the Republican majority in the U.S. House.

Between the Kochs and the Adelsons, voters around the country should expect to see what voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida have seen in recent weeks: a seemingly unending stream of dishonest attack ads, paid for by billionaire-funded super PACs and tax-exempt organizations.

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