An instant classic via the Corner. After a weeks-long Koch binge by Reid on the Senate floor, Chuck Todd hits him with an obvious but enjoyable gotcha. Namely, if it’s bad for the Kochs to spend millions promoting a right-wing agenda, isn’t it bad for Nevada casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to do the same thing? We’re talking about a guy who, per some reports, spent upwards of $150 million in 2012 alone, most of it aimed directly at defeating Obama. So immense is his influence over the GOP nomination process that top-flight candidates like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Scott Walker happily participated in a “suck-up fest” last month to try to win his favor in 2016. Surely Reid has some unkind words for him too.
Or does he? There are two big differences between Adelson and the Kochs, he says. One: Adelson’s a social liberal, a pro-choice Republican. A man like that deserves some leeway. Which would be fine, except that … the Kochs are socially liberal too. David Koch supports gay marriage, marijuana legalization, and tax hikes in the name of balancing the budget. The Kochs’ libertarianism, oddly, doesn’t buy them the same line of political credit with Reid as Adelson’s beliefs do. Two: Unlike the dirty, dirty Kochs, says Reid, Adelson’s not in politics to pad his bank account. He’s a true believer in his causes, which is respectable. That may be the first time I’ve heard a Democrat distinguish hundreds of millions in conservative “dark money” as good or bad depending on the purity of the donor’s motives, but in any case, this too is wrong. Adelson’s perfectly happy to shower cash on members of Congress in the name of protecting his business. He and his family have donated tens of thousands to Lindsey Graham, for instance; coincidentally, Graham introduced a bill just last month that would ban online gambling, thus killing potential competition for Adelson’s casinos. Reid supports online gambling but only with respect to poker, and had nothing but nice things to say about Adelson’s lobbying when asked about it recently. Go figure.
So now you’re wondering: If Grahamnesty is bought and sold, has Reid also been bought and sold by Adelson? Not exactly, but Reid’s focused on the future, not the past. According to the FEC database, Adelson did donate $5,000 to Reid’s “Searchlight Leadership Fund” back in the late 90s but, unless I missed it, hasn’t contributed to him since. On the contrary, he kicked in $2,400 to Sharron Angle for her 2010 Senate challenge to Reid. What Reid’s really worried about here is getting so far on Adelson’s bad side that the billionaire might decide to spend millions on Super PACs aimed at beating him in 2016 — and given the chance that he’ll be facing a tough opponent in Brian Sandoval, that raises the risk that he’ll be defeated to unacceptable heights. So yeah, insofar as Reid will defend Sheldon Adelson even though doing so exposes him for the sleazy hypocrite that he is, he is bought and sold — and Adelson didn’t need to spend a dime on him for the purchase. Neat trick.