This story is part of a larger profile appearing in the March 12th, 2012 issue of FORBES magazine. The complete cover story will appear online beginning Wednesday, February 22nd.
-By Steven Bertoni
February 21, 2012- Sheldon Adelson plays as stubbornly in politics as he does in business. So the criticisms that he’s trying to personally buy the presidential election for Newt Gingrich are met with a roll of the eyes. “Those people are either jealous or professional critics,” Adelson tells me during his first interview since he and his wife began funneling $11 million, with another $10 million injection widely expected, into the former speaker’s super PAC, Winning Our Future. “They like to trash other people. It’s unfair that I’ve been treated unfair—but it doesn’t stop me. I might give $10 million or $100 million to Gingrich.”
Frank VanderSloot's business practices and anti-gay activism--as well as his history of bullying journalists and bloggers--have brought the Romney backer lots of attention.
-By Joan McCarter
February 19, 2012- In a column sure to rain lawsuit threats down upon him, Glenn Greenwald exposes many of the scandals surrounding Mitt Romney's national finance co-chair, Idahoan Frank VanderSloot. VanderSloot is a billionaire whose deep pockets have funded no small number of Idaho's political figures. As Greenwald details, his business practices have drawn plenty of unwanted attention, as has his involvement in numerous far-right causes, particularly his anti-gay activism, including running a billboard campaign against Idaho Public Television for running a documentary about teachers talking about lesbian and gay issues in age-appropriate ways. His wife, Belinda, donated $100,000 to California's Prop 8 campaign.
-By Adam Peck
February 11, 2012- Foster Friess, the multi-millionaire financial investor who—until recently—was practically single-handedly bankrolling Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign, has a long history supporting Republican candidates and conservative causes. And unlike some of his fellow mega-donors like the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson, Friess has never tried all that hard to hide his intentions or methods.
On his personal YouTube page, more than a dozen sparsely-viewed videos show Friess discussing his philanthropic endeavors as well as his thoughts on President Obama, health care reform and the cause of the economic crisis. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting things about Friess that you may not know:
-By Rudi Keller
February 13, 2012- Opponents of conservative education proposals want politicians who took Rex Sinquefield’s campaign donations to return the money after a lecture in which Sinquefield seemed to embrace the idea that public schools were created by the Ku Klux Klan.
Sinquefield apologized for his remarks but not before foes jumped on the statement.
Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, called on Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, to return a $5,001 contribution he received from Sinquefield in 2010. Still intends to challenge Schaefer for the 19th District Senate seat.
Sinquefield “represents a right-wing agenda that does not recognize the value of our public schools,” Still said. “I believe Kurt Schaefer, by aligning himself with that right-wing agenda, is ignoring and not being respectful of the challenges of the outstanding work of our public school teachers.”
Schaefer said the contribution was unsolicited and that he does not intend to return it.
“I think that is ridiculous,” he said. “If Mary would focus on passing legislation instead of gotcha politics, she would get her first bill passed in her time in the General Assembly.”
-By Peter Henderson and James Pomfret
February 8, 2012- It's never good for the candidate when a big donor runs afoul of the law - as President Barack Obama learned this week: his campaign returned large donations from Chicago's Cardona brothers after it was reported that a third brother is a fugitive from U.S. drug and fraud charges.
Some Republican candidates for president could find themselves similarly embarrassed if criminal investigations against casino mogul Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act come to fruition before November.
Probes by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission focus on the casino company's operations in Macau, the world's biggest gambling hub, court documents show. A former executive in Adelson's empire, whose allegations are believed to be central to the probe, cites potential illegal dealings with a public official, as well as a tie to an organized crime figure. (That link was first reported by Reuters in a 2010 special report: High-rollers, triads and a Las Vegas giant - link.reuters.com/dyg56s)
-By Michael O'Brien
February 6, 2012- President Obama's re-election campaign made an about-face late Monday in its opposition to super PACs, encouraging donors to send their unlimited contributions to one such group founded by a former administration spokesman.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina emailed supporters to formally endorse contributions to Priorities USA, the Democratic super PAC founded by Bill Burton, a former White House deputy press secretary.
"With so much at stake, we can't allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm," Messina wrote on the campaign's blog. "Therefore, the campaign has decided to do what we can, consistent with the law, to support Priorities USA in its effort to counter the weight of the GOP Super PAC."
The decision represents a stark reversal for Obama, who has been among the most vocal critics of these outside political spending groups since the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling that paved the way for the rise of super PACs.
-By John Blake
February 4, 2012- A bungled break-in, Deep Throat, a defiant President Richard Nixon declaring, "I am not a crook."
These are what often come to mind when people hear the word Watergate. But another legacy of the infamous scandal has re-emerged in this year's presidential race.
Many Americans may not remember, but public outrage over Watergate led to the enactment of a series of campaign finance reforms designed to restore the country's faith in government.
While the nation marks the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in later this year, some observers say our political leaders have already forgotten a key lesson of Watergate: that anonymous money corrupts political campaigns.
"Watergate was basically a campaign finance scandal," says Chris Dolan, a political science professor at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania.
Dolan and others say this historical amnesia can be seen in the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which allows corporations and unions to give unlimited campaign donations to so-called super PACs as long as those political action committees are not coordinated with a candidate's campaign.