Sheldon Adelson isn’t your average businessman. In fact, when you’re worth around $30 billion, it’s hard to do anything run-of-the-mill.
With casinos spread across the world and countless millions being exchanged daily, Adelson’s fortune has brought the 82-year-old many of the finer things in life.
One of those perks is his ability to influence lawmakers in Washington, DC, through campaign contributions.
A firm supporter of the Republican Party, Adelson and his wife Miriam gave $100 million to GOP candidates during the 2012 election season.
It’s a rather strong bet that Adelson will once again open his checkbook for the 2016 presidential race.
Before he does, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a new political watchdog organization, is calling on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Federal Election Commission to investigate the billionaire’s ties to organized crime in China.
“Given the extent to which Mr. Adelson’s wealth derives from Macau and his dominant role in funding Republican candidates, it seems highly likely that illegal foreign money has made its way into American elections,” CfA Executive Director Anne Weismann stated.
In the poker community, Sheldon is notorious for pushing the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, a bill that would outlaw all forms of online gambling including Internet poker.
The complaint by the CfA predominantly focuses on Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands operations in the gambling mecca of Macau, China.
A special administrative region of the People’s Republic granted with the privilege of offering gambling, Macau has attracted high-class businessmen and women over the last decade who have used junket operators to move money out of the country.
It led to the region becoming the gambling hub of the world, the city generating over $45 billion in 2013.
Macau’s been in a downward spiral ever since thanks to the Chinese government’s crackdown on junket operators catering to the elite, revenues dropping to just $2.1 billion in September 2015.
But Sheldon Adelson and his three Macau properties continue to generate substantial returns, the company currently building a fourth casino in the area set to open in in 2016 at a cost of $2.7 billion.
Responding to the CfA, Las Vegas Sands Senior VP of Global Communications and Corporate Affairs Ron Reese told Politico, “Clearly the political silly season has started and this is an obvious political stunt.”
The Campaign for Accountability’s mission for federal authorities to probe Adelson’s finances will be a tough battle, and also not the first attempt.
In 2010, dismissed filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former boss claiming he was let go for “blowing the whistle on improprieties and placing the interests of shareholders above those of Adelson.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also looked into allegations of Adelson’s finances in 2012, but found no illegalities.
Also worth noting is that the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is a Republican-controlled committee. It would be rather unlikely for a group to bite the hand that has continually fed it over the years.
Weismann and the CfA hopes accountability comes before politics.
“Sheldon Adelson is one of the largest if not the largest political donor in history,” she said. “Unfortunately for all of the candidates and causes Mr. Adelson has showered with cash, what happens in Macau doesn’t stay in Macau.”