I Wonder about the Billionaire Backing Gingrich

According to American folklore, you don’t tug on Superman’s cape and you don’t mess around with casino operators. And it looks as if the warning is still valid in real life. A couple of years ago, Reuters reported:

Late last autumn, a Hong Kong jury convicted four men of a conspiracy to commit bodily harm and a fifth of soliciting a murder.

At first, the men had been ordered to break the arms and legs of a dealer at Sands Macau suspected of helping a patron cheat millions of dollars from the business. Later, a call went out to murder the dealer, court records show. But then one of the gangsters balked and reported the plans to authorities.

The plot’s mastermind, according to testimony in previously undisclosed court transcripts obtained by Reuters, was Cheung Chi-tai. At trial a witness identified Cheung as a leader of the Wo Hop To — one of the organized crime groups in the region known as triads. Another witness, a senior inspector with the Hong Kong police called to testify because he is an expert on the triads, identified Cheung by name as someone who would commit crimes for money. Cheung’s organized crime affiliation was corroborated in interviews for this article with law enforcement and security officials intimately familiar with the gaming industry in Macau.

The murder-for-hire case sheds light on the links between China’s secretive triad societies and Macau’s booming gambling industry. It also raises potentially troubling questions about one of the world’s largest gaming companies, Las Vegas Sands, which plans to open a $5.5 billion Singapore casino resort in late April….

The Reuters report adds:

The link between Macau’s gambling industry and organized crime may be an open secret, but it has come under increasing scrutiny lately. Within the last two weeks, MGM Mirage said it would give up its holdings in New Jersey in response to pressure from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. The state agency had said that Pansy Ho, MGM Mirage’s partner in Macau and the daughter of casino tycoon Stanley Ho, was an “unsuitable” associate, an assertion stemming from the agency’s belief that her father has links to organized crime.

So you will forgive me for wondering about the man who built the Las Vegas Sands and still owns most of its stock, the man who is bank rolling Newt Gingrich’s bid for the presidency of the United States.

His name is Sheldon Adelson (photo above, left). He is worth billions and he is donating many millions to superPACs supporting Gingrich.

Adelson is the kind of heavy hitter who needs only to make a phone call to kill a bill in Congress.  According to Wikipedia, when Adelson was negotiating with the Chinese to open his Macao casino, Congress was considering a bill to prevent the U.S. Olympic Committee from supporting China’s bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. Adelson called his old pal, then-House Majority Leader Tom Delay, and as Wikipedia reports:

A few hours later DeLay called back and told Adelson he could tell the mayor of Beijing “this bill will never see the light of day.” The resolution did not pass.

When an Israeli television station suggested Adelson had acquired a casino license in Las Vegas inappropriately through political connections, he forced the channel to apologize. Obviously, Adelson isn’t the kind of guy who meekly accepts bad press.

So you’re not likely to hear or read much about Adelson’s casinos and Chinese gambling enterprises during the Republican presidential primary campaign. What you will hear is that Adelson is an avowed supporter of Israel and picked Gingrich as his man because they agree on far-right Mideast policies.

Whatever. Adelson might be just another passionate right-wing billionaire who hates unions, Palestinians and liberals.

And he might just happen to have 20 or 30 million dollars lying around that he figures Gingrich could use.

But I can’t help wondering what if…

What if Gingrich becomes president on Adelson’s dollar?

And what if Adelson is not the kind of guy Americans want owning their president?

Click here for the Reuters story.