In the presidential campaign Sands Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson pledged $100 million to pro-Romney groups and promised to spend “as much as it takes” to get Romney elected president. Adelson, who is worth $20 billion, was the face of the evil potential of the Citizens United ruling—the possibility that the ultra-rich could buy presidential elections to suit their interests.
It didn’t work, but it turns out it wasn’t for lack of trying. HuffPo reports today that a couple anonymous fundraisers from groups that were beneficiaries of Adelseon’s huge spending spree confirm that he went over the $100 million pledge by about $50 million—his actual spend clocked in at about $150 million.
Apparently Adelson spent between $30 and $40 million with Karl Rove’s group Crossroads GPS, which may help explain why Rove was in particularly fevered hysterics on election night—any gambler knows you don’t want to be out $40 million to a casino boss.
He also gave generously to the Koch brothers, but there’s still about $50 million or so unaccounted for.
The Justice Department is conducting an ongoing investigation into potentially illegal spending on the part of Sands Casino company, and Adelson had said “the Justice Department investigation, and the way he felt treated by prosecutors, was a primary motivation for his investment” in Romney. That’s one approach: if you don’t like the Justice Department, just buy yourself a new one.
Given the utter failure of Adelson’s money to sway the election, the question remains: will the lesson for 2016 be that you can’t buy elections, or that he just didn’t spend enough?