As he prepares to launch a campaign for president, Newt Gingrich is counting on the backing of an unusually powerful behind-the-scenes donor: a billionaire casino mogul whose business empire stretches from the Palazzo on Las Vegas’s famous Strip to the Chinese gambling hub of Macau.
Gingrich’s financial angel is the publicity-shy Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., and the fifth wealthiest man in America as recently ranked by Forbes Magazine.
Adelson, who has an estimated net worth of over $23 billion, has personally pumped $7 million over the past five years into Gingrich’s main political advocacy organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future. His contributions account for more than 10 percent of all the organization's funds and have helped the former speaker promote his conservative causes and stay in the public eye.
But while Adelson’s backing could prove a big asset for Gingrich in his presidential bid, it could also create fresh problems for the former House speaker — especially among the constituents he is courting the hardest these days, evangelical Christians.
Eh, a little gambling ... Gingrich will just tell the evangelicals that Adelson is also Bibi Netanyahu's financial angel, so he's helping bring the End Times, and everything will be all right.
Adelson and his gambling company have been plagued by legal troubles in recent months. The Sands recently disclosed that it is being investigated by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Nevada and Hong Kong regulators have opened their own probes, according to company disclosures.
The inquiries grow out of a wrongful termination lawsuit filed last fall by Steven Jacobs, the former top Sands executive in Macau where Adelson’s Venetian casino has become a major profit center for his company. Jacobs alleged in court papers he was fired because he objected to Adelson's “repeated and outrageous” demands that he use “improper leverage” with Chinese officials to obtain valuable government concessions and that he retain the services of a Macau lawyer who was also a local government official.
(The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which has been vigorously enforced by the Justice Department in recent years, bars U.S. companies from making payments to foreign officials to obtain favorable treatment.)
So, how much does the FCPA add to America's trade deficit? Does Japan or Germany have their own FCPA?