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By Robert A. Vella

If you had any doubts about the subversion of American democracy by big monied interests, the extravagant soiree in Las Vegas this week should help convince you.  Multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson is the headliner at a political gathering hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition where top GOP presidential hopefuls eagerly wish to benefit from the casino magnate’s deep financial pockets.  During the 2012 election cycle, Adelson spent up to $150 million on campaign contributions and donations to political advocacy groups.  Now, he intends to spend even more on what he is referring to as “electable” candidates.

Besides Adelson’s ideological support of conservatism, he is also trying to eliminate a potential competitor to his stunningly successful gaming business – namely, internet gambling.  And, the list of Republican politicians jumping on his money-powered bandwagon is astonishing.

From:  GOP Governors Get Behind Sheldon Adelson On Online Gambling

Govs. Rick Perry of Texas and Nikki Haley of South Carolina have submitted letters in recent days to congressional leaders stating that gambling in the virtual world compromises the ability of states to control gambling within their borders. Weeks earlier, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana wrote that he would do everything he could to stop Internet gambling from spreading in his state.

Each of the governors’ missives is highlighted on the website for the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, an advocacy group that Adelson, an 80-year-old casino magnate, helped bankroll.

From:  Sheldon Adelson’s Search for an Electable Republican Who Hates Online Poker

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham introduced legislation this week—drafted with Adelson’s lobbyist, according to the New York Times—that would shut down Internet gambling. Adelson also funds a Washington pressure group, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, that has focused on enlisting the support of social conservatives. As Graham told to the Times, explaining why he had become the senate sherpa for Adelson’s interests: “I would say that Sheldon has aligned himself with most Baptists in South Carolina.”

Ironically, former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich – who received $15 million from Adelson in a failed 2012 bid for the GOP nomination – now says that wealthy donors have too much influence:

“Whether it’s the Koch brothers or [George] Soros on the left or Sheldon,” Gingrich said, “if you’re going to have an election process that radically favors billionaires and is discriminating against the middle class—which we now have—then billionaires are going to get a lot of attention.”

“The truth is, we desperately need an election reform which allows candidates to receive the same amount of money as super PACs,” he added.

So, Gingrich wants to solve the pervasive problem of money in politics with more money in politics.  That suggestion is analogous to pouring gasoline onto an already raging fire.  The fact that quid pro quo relationships between politicians and their benefactors are difficult to prove in a court of law does not mean this kind of corruption isn’t systemic in America.  On the contrary, it is a rapidly escalating problem that fundamentally threatens to supplant democracy (i.e. government of, by, and for the people) with a perverse authoritarian plutocracy.  The saddest aspect of this tragedy is that far too many Americans are allowing it to happen.

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