Adelson's $53 million 'investment' wasn't a total bust

The real lesson of money and politics: It pays to have a friend in Washington, even if that friend comes at a high price.

By Jonathan Berr Nov 9, 2012 4:20PM
A politician counting money in front of the US Capitol Building -- Antenna, fStop, Getty ImagesLas Vegas Sands (LVS) CEO Sheldon Adelson spent at least $53 million on presidential challenger Mitt Romney and others in the 2012 election, and all his candidates lost with the exception of one: incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada. Though some of Adelson's many detractors may label him as a "one-hit wonder," they are missing a bigger point.

Having even a single elected official on your side isn't just a good thing. It has the potential to be stupendously awesome. Heller can now go to bat for Adelson in battles large and small with the federal bureaucracy. Adelson, who in addition to being a political donor is a major Nevada employer, needs all the "friends" he can get in Washington as his company faces a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for its business practices in Macao. 

Since nothing gets done in the Senate without a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes, individual members have a tremendous amount of power. Senators can put anonymous holds on bills, effectively killing them, and ensure that the public never learns who is responsible for the action. Heller can also filibuster Presidential appointments and fight for policies, such as those toward Israel, that Adelson supports.

There are limits to what Adelson can get from his "investment" in politics. Though money may buy TV commercials, advisers and public relations rainmakers, it can't make voters like people who are otherwise not very likeable. Voters don't hire a president, they elect him. If Americans picked their leaders the same way that a board of directors choose a CEO, Mitt Romney would be the next president because -- at least on paper -- he is one of the most qualified people ever to compete to be the leader of the Free World. But the former Massachusetts governor was never able to shake the perception that he would say or do anything to be president.

No amount of money from Adelson or the Koch Brothers or Obama's many critics on Wall Street could transform Romney into someone who could inspire the average American to make their country a better place. Some may argue that Obama failed that test as well, but he managed to do a good enough job to gain a clear and decisive victory over Romney.

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks.  Follow him on Twitter@jdberr.

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10Comments
Nov 10, 2012 4:06PM
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I buy no Georgia Pacific products because the Koch brothers own it. If you don't believe you or we can make a difference against big money, refuse to purchase any Georgia Pacific manufactured products.
Nov 9, 2012 8:37PM
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I will say that my vote counted..Again
Nov 10, 2012 10:43PM
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Adelson wanted one thing from Romney and that was a US war with Iran .......they wanted President Obama out as he was one of the few politicians in Washington who refused to kowtow to the Likkud party in the Senate, Congress and of course it's home country.

Keep fighting Mr President ....US interests should be US interests only and not dictated by outside interests.....
Nov 11, 2012 1:09PM
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Romney became the fip-flop flipping fibber presidential candidate of all time!  Adelson's 53 million dollar PLUS investment was as close to a total bust as it could possibly be, only one of his candidates won and be was an incumbent. Any of the Republican members of the U.S. Senate can do for Adelson what Sen. Dean Heller can do for him, including those who were not up for re-election. In addition, according to reports, Adelson actually spent a lot more than $53 million, we will never probably know the full amount, because the non-profit organizations to which he likely also contributed are not required to report who their donors are or the amount they contribute. We do know Adelson boasted he was ready and willing to spend $100 million to elect his candidates and defeat Obama.
Nov 12, 2012 3:42PM
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So it is wonderful because one Republican can protect this possible criminal?  This political thug who backed the ever low brow self proclaimed historian Gingrich, then Romney, all in order to act against American interests in the Middle East?  Bomb Iran?  Perhaps the Chinese would like to deal with his possible corruption in the way they do best, with expediency and brutality.
Nov 9, 2012 5:15PM
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Business as usual. One side will spend like there is no tomorrow. The other side will just spend less.
Nov 11, 2012 12:21PM
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An incumbent President's campaign costs are paid for by the taxpayer, largely, therefore it is necessary for any opposing candidate to raise private money to campaign. If private campaign contributions are banned then we should just elect a president for eight years, and be done with it. With this dolt 's re-election, we may never have another free presidential election again. His re-election was made possible with women voting with the opposite end of their body, rather than their brain. Isn't it really crucial for a sleep around woman to have her birth control pills paid by the taxpayers? 
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