This post was written by Bill Allison, editorial director of the Sunlight Foundation.
Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who have reportedly given a combined $10 million to Winning Our Future, the super PAC that supports and is run by former staffers of Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, were reportedly drawn to him by a shared view of the importance of the U.S. relationship to Israel.
But a review of public records by Sunlight suggests that the couple, who appears to be the former House speaker's most generous political patrons pending the filing of Winning Our Future's first complete financial disclosures later this month with the Federal Election Commission, have considerable financial interests involved in battles with the federal government that Gingrich is vying to head:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform has proposed reforms to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, claiming that the Justice Dept. and the SEC have become increasingly aggressive in interpreting the law. The Cato Institute has also called for changing the law.
Adelson, who with his wife owns 57.3 percent of Las Vegas Sands, supports a candidate who, as a member of Congress, had a history of raising issues that benefit his big donors. In 1991, Gingrich vigorously attacked a luxury tax placed on the purchase of yachts; the largest donor to GOPAC, the political organization that Gingrich ran to groom Republican House candidates, was Terry Kohler, whose Windway Capital Corp. owned boat building and nautical supply firms. "As we are all learning -- for example, from the boat builders -- if you raise taxes on people who buy a product, then you lay off people who are making the product, and it is not very fair to the thousands of boat workers who are not working today." Congress repealed the yacht tax in 1993.
Similarly, the Food and Drug Administration had regulatory authority over several GOPAC donors; as speaker of the House, Gingrich regularly attacked the FDA, and called its administrator, David Kessler, a "thug and a bully," and labeled the FDA "a job killer," according to the Los Angeles Times. Gingrich led an effort to roll back the agency's authority that ultimately failed.
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