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The Line to Kiss Sheldon Adelson’s Boots
DAVID FIRESTONE MARCH 31, 2014, 4:13 PM
It’s hard to imagine a political spectacle more loathsome than the parade of Republican presidential candidates who spent the last few days bowing and scraping before the mighty bank account of the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. One by one, they stood at a microphone in Mr. Adelson’s Venetian hotel in Las Vegas and spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition (also a wholly owned subsidiary of Mr. Adelson), hoping to sound sufficiently pro-Israel and pro-interventionist and philo-Semitic to win a portion of Mr. Adelson’s billions for their campaigns.
Gov. John Kasich of Ohio made an unusually bold venture into foreign policy by calling for greater sanctions on Iran and Russia, and by announcing that the United States should not pressure Israel into a peace process. (Wild applause.) “Hey, listen, Sheldon, thanks for inviting me,” he said. “God bless you for what you do.”
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin brought up his father’s trip to Israel, and said he puts “a menorah candle” next to his Christmas tree. The name of his son, Matthew, actually comes from Hebrew, he pointed out.
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey also described his trip to Israel, but then did something unthinkable. He referred to the West Bank as the “occupied territories.” A shocked whisper went through the crowd. How dare Mr. Christie implicitly acknowledge that Israel’s presence in the West Bank might be anything less than welcome to the Palestinians? Even before Mr. Christie left the stage, leaders of the group told him he had stumbled, badly.
And sure enough, a few hours later, Mr. Christie apologized directly to Mr. Adelson for his brief attack of truthfulness.
It would be one thing if these attempts at pandering were the usual ethnic bromides of candidates looking for votes in New York or Florida, a familiar ritual. But the people gathered in Las Vegas were not there as voters — they were there as donors, led by one of the biggest of them all, Mr. Adelson, who dispensed nearly $100 million to his favored candidates in 2012. He singlehandedly kept Newt Gingrich’s candidacy alive with $20 million in checks, and this year he is looking for a more mainstream candidate he can send to the White House on a tide of cash.
“He doesn’t want a crazy extremist to be the nominee,” Victor Chaltiel, a friend and colleague of Mr. Adelson, told the Washington Post. Well, that’s a relief.
But not much of one. The ability of one man and his money to engender so much bootlicking among serious candidates, which ought to be frightening, has now become commonplace. Why talk directly to voters when you can get a billionaire to help you manipulate them with a barrage of false television ads, as the Koch brothers are doing with Republican Senate candidates around the country.
It’s a cynical calculation that is turning people away from political involvement. Mr. Adelson thinks that’s not only terrific, but hilarious. Politico reported that at a party on Saturday night for the Republican Jewish Coalition, Mr. Adelson said he couldn’t give the group the $50 million it requested because its director didn’t have change for $1 billion.
The event was closed to the press, but it’s not hard to hear the fawning laughter and applause from here.
How Nonprofits Spend Millions on Elections and Call it Public Welfare
by Kim Barker
ProPublica, Aug. 18, 2012, 11:25 p.m.
Congress created the legal framework for 501(c)(4) nonprofits nearly a century ago. To receive the tax exemption, groups were supposed to be "operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare." The IRS later opened the door to some forms of political activity by interpreting the statute to mean groups had to be"primarily" engaged in enhancing social welfare. But neither the tax code nor regulators set out how this would be measured.
In recent years, Democrats and Republicans alike have seized on that seemingly innocuous wording to create the darkest corner of American political fundraising.
An investigation by ProPublica, drawing on documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission, offers the most detailed picture to date of how 501(c)(4) groups have used their tax status for purposes likely never intended.
Our examination shows that dozens of these groups do little or nothing to justify the subsidies they receive from taxpayers. Instead, they are pouring much of their resources, directly or indirectly, into political races at the local, state and federal level.
The 2010 election functioned, effectively, as a dry run, providing a blueprint for what social welfare groups are doing on a larger scale today. Records on what is happening in the 2012 campaign will not be available until well after the election.
For this story, ProPublica reviewed thousands of pages of filings for 107 nonprofits active during the 2010 election cycle, tracking what portion of their funds went into politics. We watched TV ads bought by these groups, looked at documents from other nonprofits that gave them money, and interviewed dozens of campaign finance experts and political strategists.
We found that some groups said they would not engage in politics when they applied for IRS recognition of their tax-exempt status. But later filings showed they spent millions on just such activities.
Karl Rove's Dark Money Groups Finally Announce Their 2012 Haul
The Huffington Post
By Paul Blumenthal
Posted: 11/14/2013 7:07 pm EST Updated: 11/14/2013 7:21 pm EST
Crossroads GPS, the top-spending dark money nonprofit in the 2012 election, will report on Friday that it raised $180 million last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It had previously been reported that Crossroads GPS and its sister super PAC, American Crossroads, had together raised in excess of $300 million for the 2012 campaign. But the two groups, both co-founded by former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, hadn't disclosed the full amount of their respective hauls.
In total, the Crossroads groups raised more than $325 million in the 2012 election cycle -- more than all the spending by independent groups in the 2010 election combined. They spent a whopping $176 million on federal campaigns in the 2012 election, and Crossroads GPS spent an additional $89.4 million on issue advertising targeting campaigns for president, the Senate and the House.
Crossroads GPS is not required to disclose its donors because it is registered as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. However, the tax filing obtained by the Wall Street Journal did list the amounts given to the group by individual donors, without listing their names. Overall, 291 donors made contributions to Crossroads GPS, with an average donation of $618,000. The largest donation from a single source was $22.5 million.
The Center for Responsive Politics reported on Thursday that two trade associations were among the donors to Crossroads GPS in 2012. The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care gave $500,000, and the AGC Public Awareness and Advocacy Fund gave $100,000, according to CRP.Politico also reported that casino mogul Steve Wynn was a major donor to Crossroads GPS.
The largest grant from Crossroads GPS was a $26.4 million gift to Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist's group spent $15.8 million on election activities in 2012.
Both Crossroads groups were founded within months of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, which opened the door for corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums on independent political activity. A subsequent lower court ruling allowed in individual donors, too, and led to the creation of super PACs.
American Crossroads was formed in June 2010. After finding that donors desired anonymity, Crossroads GPS spun off as a nonprofit to funnel undisclosed money into elections.
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