Adelson’s defense: it’s political

September 25, 2012 1:27 pm

Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson claims his support for Mitt Romney is why his casino company is under criminal investigation on several fronts.

In an interview with Politico, Adelson, who has donated tens of millions of dollars in support of Romney and other Republicans, argued that he was being targeted by investigators for his political activity. Adelson told Politico the government has been trying to discredit him. He said the goal is to make “me toxic so that they can make the argument to the Republicans, ‘This guy is toxic. Don’t do business with him. Don’t take his money.’ ”

Puh-leeze.

To be sure, Adelson has been a longtime contributor to Republicans going back a number of years. But he did not ramp up his giving until after the investigations were launched. More to the point, it is believed the investigations were prompted by a civil lawsuit filed by a former executive at Adelson’s company, Las Vegas Sands, that contained allegations of bribery.

If anything, one could argue that Adelson became more involved in trying to defeat President Obama after the investigation began in hopes that a change in the White House (and in the Justice Department leadership) would help the probe go away.

In fact, the Securities and Exchange Commission has been investigating Adelson’s company since at least early 2011 when it subpoenaed documents in connection with the possible bribes. In turn, Adelson started spending big on the presidential race in January 2012, when he and his wife each wrote $5 million checks to Winning Our Future, a super PAC that supported Newt Gingrich’s failed presidential bid.

Federal and Nevada investigators are looking into tactics Adelson’s company used to build a huge casino complex in the Macau region of China. ProPublica reported that Adelson told a company executive to pay $700,000 in legal fees to a Macau public official whose firm served as an outside counsel to the Las Vegas Sands. Adelson denies any wrongdoing and hasn’t been charged.

The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have also reported on the investigation. Read those stories here and here.

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