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What gambling industry money has done on Newt Gingrich's behalf

No single person, outside the candidates themselves, has had more raw impact on the presidential election than casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, via his donations to a pro-Gingrich 'super PAC.'

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Often viewed as a conservative counterpart of financier George Soros – whose millions helped fund organizations that set out to defeat President Bush in the 2004 campaign – Adelson has been an ATM machine for GOP candidates and party organizations, especially in his home state of Nevada and other states with gambling interests.

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Some examples:

• Mr. Adelson has given $361,900 directly to GOP congressional and presidential campaigns since the 2008 campaign cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington.

• From 2000 to 2010, Adelson and his companies donated $5.3 million to state-level Republican candidates, party committees, and causes, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.  

•He also spent $3.3 million backing conservative advocacy groups in the 2008 campaign cycle, just behind Mr. Soros, at $4.5 million, and Hollywood producer Stephen Bing, who also backs liberal causes, at $3.3 million.

By contrast, Adelson wrote a $2,500 check to the Gingrich presidential campaign back in August, the maximum allowed under campaign-finance law. 

Until the US Supreme Court’s 2010 decision Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, federal law limited the amount individuals and corporations could contribute to directly advocate for or against a candidate. In this decision, the Supreme Court called such advocacy an expression of political speech that government has no business to regulate, but also provided that Congress could require corporations and individuals to disclose their spending.

“Disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority.

So, what are citizens to make of the largest contributions in support of a political candidate in US political history? If Adelson’s funding proves to be a game-changer in Gingrich’s quest for the White House, does the casino operator expect anything in return?

Both men describe their common cause as the survival of the state of Israel. “This one-sided continuing pressure that says it’s always Israel’s fault, no matter how bad the other side is, has to stop,” Gingrich said at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2012 Republican candidates forum on Dec. 7. In an interview with the Jewish Channel on Dec. 10, Gingrich described the Palestinians as “an invented people.”

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