Snap Fact #295
President Obama Has Been Thoroughly Vetted while Governor Romney Hides Under a Shroud of Mystery – Part 2
Yesterday’s Part 1 SNAP-CAP promised to deliver a revelatory expose’ about Sheldon Adelson and his deep relationship with Mitt Romney. You will find the following very interesting and very frightening. We will learn who is the real Sheldon Adelson, and why, besides going against a basic tenet of his Church, is Romney’s taking money from Adelson such a bad thing?

In addition to being an owner of casinos and resort hotels, Adelson is a man who is best known for his hawkish defense of Israel and for his abhorrence for a two-state solution to the Palestinian Israeli conflict, and for whom for whom profits and politics are tightly entwined, co-joined like Siamese twins. 

“Mr. Adelson’s other overriding interest is his own wallet. He rails against the president’s “socialist-style economy” and redistribution of wealth, but what he really fears is Mr. Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on companies like his that make a huge amount of money overseas. Ninety percent of the earnings of his company, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, come from hotel and casino properties in Singapore and Macau. . .”

What is interesting to note, is that while Romney took campaign cash from a casino magnate under Federal investigation by 3 Federal agencies, Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential campaign returned $850,000 in contributions tied to disgraced Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu, and put in place a more rigorous background check for future donors. Has Romney done the ethical thing like Hillary Clinton did? Absolutely not!

Wherever Adelson builds a casino and resort hotel, he uses his financial clout to win concessions from state and local officials, making what may what may seem like outlandish demands on local and state governments in return for the employment and economic boost offered by his casinos. Barcelona and Madrid Spain are competing for an Adelson casino and resort hotel to be built there, which would be presumed to be an economic boon for Spain’s faltering economy. In return for bringing a casino to Spain, Adelson's company has demanded that labor laws be relaxed, that rules designed to combat money-laundering be eased, that it be freed from paying Social Security and income taxes for its first two years of its existence, and that visa restrictions on foreign employees be relaxed, and that Spain’s ban on smoking in public places be lifted. In essence he’s asking Spain – hard pressed for cash – to violate its own laws to bring in a venture that may very well employ few Spaniards. 

When Adelson took operation of Macau’s casinos, those casinos in Macau were a gangster’s paradise, run by a monopoly figure named Stanley Ho who had ties to Chinese organized crime Triad gangs. Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands (LVS) hired executive Steve Jacobs to run its Macau casinos, but fired him when Jacobs refused to expand the corrupt junkets from the Chinese mainland, a system in which high-rolling gamblers were ferried to Macau, and staked with massive amounts of cash to get around China’s strict currency and debt collection laws; junket operators linked to organized crime collected gambling debts in exchange for commission from Adelson’s casinos. 

The first allegation in the current Federal investigation of Adelson focuses on possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a U.S. anti-bribery law, related to the company’s casinos in Macau, China. When Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, needed something done in China, he often turned to his company’s “chief Beijing representative,” a mysterious businessman named Yang Saixin who was paid $30,00 a month. Because gambling is illegal in China, except for Macau, Adelson sought to use his financial clout and connections to exert political influence at the highest levels of government. Thus Yang efforts were directed towards the good will of Chinese officials, who mete out approvals and have the power to curtail the flow of mainland visitors.  Now Yang along with tens of millions of dollars in payments the Sands made through him in China, is a focus of a wide-ranging federal investigation into potential bribery of foreign officials and other matters in China and Macau. 

Thanks to the China investigation a review of more than a thousand pages of corporate records in China, as well as interviews with former Sands executives and others, show that the Sands paid out more than $70 million to companies tied to Mr. Yang for the trade center and for a Chinese basketball team the Sands sponsored. But several million dollars appear to be unaccounted for after the projects were suddenly shut down by the company. What became of any missing money and whether any of it wound up in the hands of Chinese officials are among the questions being examined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The second Federal investigation of Adelson, run by the US Attorney’s Los Angeles office is probing allegations about the Las Vegas Sands handling of money received several years ago from a Mexican businessman later accused of drug trafficking and a former California executive subsequently convicted of taking illegal kickbacks. The investigation is examining the Sands’ failure to report millions of dollars of possibly laundered money transferred to its casinos by these two big-time gamblers. 

Since 1985, casinos have been subject to the same regulations as banks to prevent money laundering, whereby illegal gains were moved into legitimate accounts in an effort to hide them. Large cash transactions had to be reported, and the rules were further tightened in 2003 with the requirement that casinos file suspicious-activity reports—long a duty of banks—when casinos suspect transference of large sums of illicit cash into legitimate accounts. the Justice Department and Treasury has become increasingly concerned that compliance standards in the gambling industry are too lax, running the risk that casinos could be used both for money laundering and terrorism financing. If the prosecution succeeds in making its case, casinos could wind up becoming more like banks in knowing where customers are getting their money; a negative result for casino magnate Adelson could complicate the Las Vegas Sands’ relationship with regulators and make it harder for Adelson’s company to expand into new markets.

Adelson’s history vis-à-vis unions is quite clear. Sheldon Adelson and his pal Newt Gingrich supported a Nevada conservative legislative effort to ban unions from collecting dues from workers paychecks. In 1999, Adelson closed one casino, the Sands, and completed work on a new one, the Venetian, “. . . stiffing so many contractors that there were at one time 366 liens against the property. …”Then Adelson launched an anti-union crusade against the Culinary Workers who’d been laid off from his closed hotel, and who’d presumed they’d be considered for work at the new Venetian. Adelson refused to rehire them and tried to have them arrested when the Culinary Workers staged a demonstration on the public sidewalk out front right before the grand opening of the Venetian, in 1999. “. . .The Culinary Workers argued before the National Labor Relations Board that Adelson's attempts to keep them from demonstrating violated federal labor law. 

Adelson's lawyers countered that their client’s First Amendment rights were being violated – because his threats of arrests were an instance of "petitioning the government." The union won the right to protest; Adelson refused to comply with the settlement, copies of which the union passed out on that very same sidewalk. That was "fraudulent use of the seal of a government agency," the Venetian argued, further claiming that union workers had "impersonated" NLRB officials, and that the volunteer labor activists had been coerced. The great civil liberties attorney Alan Dershowitz got involved – on Adelson's side. "The Venetian has no property rights to the sidewalk," a federal appeals judge told them in 2007. Unmoved, Adelson tried, without success, to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. After all, Adelson told the Wall Street Journal, radical Islam and the right to more easily join a union were the two most "fundamental threats to society."

Adelson is bankrolling GOP candidates for office to the tune of $35 in this election cycle and has vowed to spend $100 million to get Romney elected. After Romney announced Rep. Paul Ryan as his VP running mate, Adelson held a closed door fund-raiser at his Las Vegas Venetian Hotel & Casino, a fundraiser that was closed to the Media.

Romney has thus shown he has no ethical compass, that he so desperately wants to win the Presidency that he’s willing to sell his soul to whomever can help him “buy” the election no matter how tainted they might be. Newsweek’s Daily Beast has reported that while Romney has claimed to have “cleaned up the Olympics,” Romney’s connections to tainted former 2002 International Olympic Committee (IOC) figures, like disgraced contractor Sead Dizdarevic and David Simmons as well as members of Simmons family and the latter’s business associates has resulted in more than a million dollars in campaign contributions to candidate Romney. They like super-rich donors Sheldon Adelson, and industrialists David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, all have their own hidden agendas and will one day call in all their favors. Such is the character of Mitt Romney!