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Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn
January 18, 2013
by J.A. Young
Meet the Man: Casino Moguls Lose Big Betting on GOP
Early on in the 2012 presidential elections the Republican Party took a very candid ideological stance.  They made it clear that they were not going to attempt to swing moderate voters by crafting a platform nearer to the center of the political spectrum. Instead, they chose to stretch their base farther towards the conservative right on both domestic and economic issues.  This strategy was chosen with the hope of convincing the American people that Barack Obama’s social liberalism is fundamentally contemptible.  Republican strategists made it their supreme goal to show that Obama’s policies on universal health care and economic stimulus were both poorly planned and ineffectively implemented.  The unfortunate side effect of this bold strategy is that the GOP has become even more firmly positioned next to wealthy corporate America.  Despite their best efforts to shed this caricature, a glimpse at some men behind the veil of the Republican Party reveals an ugly truth.
Las Vegas casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn were the victims of their own cruel game following this election season. We know conclusively that at least 150 million dollars was dished out between the two affluent businessmen in pursuit of a Republican victory, despite the complex and often anonymous nature of modern campaign contributions. Following Mitt Romney’s decisive loss to Barack Obama, the wealthy moguls watched their massive financial gambits turn into fruitless GOP contributions. The irony of this story seems almost too poignant, something more appropriately found inside a best-selling political novel than on the front page of the Washington Times.  The majority of these donations were funneled through super-PACs like Crossroads GPS, and a variety of other committees and campaign organizations.  Super PACs have recently emerged as the most popular method of raising money for political campaigns, and everyone from Paul Allen to Stephen Colbert has one.  In the case of Adelson and Wynn, the majority of their money was allocated and used by Karl Rove to help push Mitt Romney into the White House.  Unfortunately this was a gamble that failed to pay dividends.  The scathing advertising campaign that was launched by the Republican Party failed to sway undecided voters, and may have inadvertently persuaded some to distance themselves from the party.

While Adelson and Wynn are considered to have donated this money to a political cause, the term donate is not really appropriate.  Are we to believe that these men were throwing millions of dollars behind Mitt Romney without any guarantee?  These are the sort of men who have made billions of dollars siphoning quarters from blue-haired old ladies and drunken college students; they don’t make million-dollar investments without expecting a return.  They bet on sure things.  You do not get to be a billionaire casino executive by not getting what you pay for.   Suddenly Karl Rove’s hilarious nervous outrage at ‘preemptive’ vote counting seems to make a bit more sense, considering he was just then realizing that he had accepted millions of dollars from Vegas casino heads without delivering on any promises.  The previously unconsidered thought of losing the election likely conjured up melodramatic visions of poorly lit, smoke-filled back rooms with burly men calmly waiting to teach someone a valuable lesson in politics.  Surely Las Vegas does not run the same as it did when Robert De Niro’s notorious Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein ruled the Tangiers, but even today I can’t imagine that squandering a hundred million dollar investment is acceptable.

What this election did was confirm the worst fears of the neo-Conservative GOP and validate the opinions of more rational Americans.  There is no doubt now that the Republic Party has become a platform more of The Man than of the registered Republican voter.  More specifically it has become the party of rich white men like Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn.  A simple comparison of average donation size tells us the exact same story, with the Democrats receiving 57% of their money in small donations compared to just 24% for the GOP.  Included in Mitt Romney’s top five donors are Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Morgan Stanley. Barack Obama’s top donors are organizations like Stanford University, Harvard University, University of California, and Google Inc.  Powerful people and wealthy organizations have a vital role in the American democratic process whether we approve of it or not.  Elected officials will always have to be responsive to the will of their donors as well as the needs of their constituency.  Personally, I tend to lend more credence to the support of elite academic institutions than to the will of avaricious old men.

Anyone who may have flipped on Fox News during the climax of Election Night was witness to the results of this well-funded but poorly planned campaign strategy.  The cold sweat and furrows of worry that plagued the face of Karl Rove were on the face of the entire Republican Party; however well covered up they may have been by generous amounts of foundation, crass smiles, and impeccable teeth.   Surprisingly, this story is one with an optimistic ending.  An Obama victory proved to be a victory of many over few, of big minds over bigger wallets.  We need only to look at the dissent that has plagued the Republican Party over the recent months to see that they are beginning to understand the magnitude of their own turmoil.  Men like Adelson and Wynn may change their strategy in the years to come, perhaps throwing millions behind the Democratic Party with the hope of receiving a few tax breaks and adding a few diamonds to their thrones of gold.  It is our duty as the ‘demos’ (people) in democracy to be knowledgeable about the way our political system functions to make the most informed decision available. However imperfect it may be The Man has been pushed into the light, and the people do not like what they see. 

[1]Stone, Peter.  "Sheldon Adelson Spent Far More on Campaign than Previously Known." 3, December, 2012. <>

[2]Hudson, John. "The Guy Bankrolling Karl Rove is a Casino Mogul." 13, July, 2012. <>

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