The Donald to endorse Gingrich? UPDATE: Or will he endorse Romney?

One thing you can say for Gingrich – he has created an odd coalition of endorsers.

According to the Atlanta Constitution-Journal report, Donald Trump is set to endorse Gingrich in Las Vegas today. He will join the AFA’s Don Wildmon, Liberty Council’s Mat Staver, gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson, and actor Chuck Norris as endorsers.

UPDATE: Now the New York Times is reporting that Trump will endorse Mitt Romney.

 

Gingrich says he worries about poor spending money on gambling while supported by gambling magnate

Really?

According to the Miami Herald:

“At the risk of offending some of my friends who’ve been very helpful,” Gingrich said, “I worry about the degree to which the poor are the most likely to spend a large percentage of their income gambling.”

According to the report, Gingrich did not spell out his views on gambling which is a hot topic in Florida now since at least two companies, including Gingrich’s benefactor – Sheldon Adelson – want to put casinos there.
I wish someone in the press covering his campaign would ask him about the two times when Gingrich supported policies favorable to the gambling industry, but did not give Indians a break on policy involving their casinos.

Gingrich says his relationship with Adelson is about Israel and I believe that is partly true. However, Gingrich has conducted at least one fundraiser in one of Adelson’s casinos and supported at least two causes of importance to the gambling industry.

If Gingrich is worried about the poor and the dollars they spend, then why did he show favor to the gambling industry while Speaker of the House? Is this a new worry?

Related:

Media widens coverage of Gingrich ties to gambling magnate

Some reporting is now examining the ties between Newt Gingrich and gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson. I have looked at various angles of the connection, including Gingrich’s favorable treatment of the industry by thwarting an oversight committee and backing a tax break sought by casino owners.

Yesterday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported some uneasiness among evangelicals about the significant ties between Gingrich and Adelson. One Gingrich backer, Matt Towery, said Gingrich wouldn’t do any favors for Adelson. However, as I noted earlier in the week, he already has.

Today’s Toronto Star examines the relationship and quotes Fred Wertheimer as saying that Gingrich has opened himself up to questions regarding his policies on gambling and Israel by being so dependent on one donor.

Just an hour ago, ABC News Brian Ross looked at the investigation of Adelson’s gambling empire by the Justice Department and the Securities Exchange Commission.

Finally, The Nation’s Ben Adler reports on a conversation he had with Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist convicted of bribing Congress while Gingrich was speaker. In this conversation and in his new book, Abramoff describes Gingrich’s response to a request from Abramoff that Indian casino gambling profits go untaxed. Gingrich reportedly said that the Indian tribes had a good deal and didn’t need special treatment.

If this story is true, then in effect, Gingrich favored special tax treatment for the gambling industry but not for Indian tribes.

Related:

Apostle Dutch Sheets endorses Newt Gingrich for President

And Sheets also joined Gingrich’s Faith Leaders Coalition.

Here is the press release:

Pastor Dutch Sheets Endorses Newt Gingrich

Atlanta, GA– Dutch Sheets has endorsed Newt Gingrich for president, and will be joining the Gingrich Faith Leaders Coalition.

Dutch Sheets is the author of 18 books, including the best seller Intercessory Prayer. Throughout his 34 years of ministry he has pastored, taught in several colleges and seminaries, served on the board of directors of numerous organizations and has become recognized as an international leader on the subject of prayer.

In a statement, Pastor Sheets explained that his endorsement is for the “most important election of our lifetimes”

“Newt Gingrich is only one that I can confidently say has the heart, experience, backbone, Constitutional brilliance, and intellectual strength to defeat Obama and lead America back to greatness” said Sheets.

“The America we know and love—indeed, the America God and our founding fathers dreamed of and birthed—cannot survive another 4 years of the current leadership in Washington.”

Sheets will join the coalition led by Christian market researcher, George Barna. It also includes, Pastor Tim LaHaye, Beverly LaHaye, Dr. Jim Garlow, the California pastor behind the Proposition 8 Battle, Congressman J.C. Watts, Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, Dr.Michael Youssef, Pastor Richard Lee, and Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

The coalition is currently setting up a leadership committee in Florida, and will be setting up leadership in other states in the coming weeks.

Sheets is securely within the New Apostolic Reformation and believes that we are supposed to try to infiltrate the government and raise up Kingdom warriors to “do whatever it takes to bring about Kingdom rule.” Right Wing Watch has some of Sheet’s teaching from a recent political event called “A Gathering of Eagles.”

 

Sheets prophesied about an event that was supposed to take place near Branson, MO called the Wilderness Outcry. He said God told him the event might start another great awakening. Eventually, the event was cancelled due to lack of funding.

I continue to be amazed that evangelicals are joining with Gingrich given that the campaign thus far has been dependent on gambling profits via the donations of Sheldon Adelson. Sheets has had some harsh words for gambling in the past, writing in his book Releasing the Prophetic Destiny of a Nation:

The curse of Horace is linked with Freemasonry. We asked the Lord to blind the evil eye linked with this curse and the corruption of gambling so that it would not overtake Louisiana completely. (p. 239)

The corruption of gambling is paying for the campaign of the man Sheets is now endorsing.

Newt Gingrich favored tax policy requested by gambling industry

In May 1998, Newt Gingrich held a three-tiered fund raiser in the Las Vegas Sands Expo and Convention center, a large casino and hotel complex run by Sheldon Adelson’s company, Las Vegas Sands Corp. Hoping to raise $100,000, Gingrich provided a private briefing to supporters for $2,500, appeared with others for $500 and then held a rally which cost $35 to enter, according to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Gingrich struck the right chord during his meetings with Las Vegas politicians and casino interests.

Nevada’s casino industry gained an ally with clout Sunday when House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he would work to block an Internal Revenue Service plan to tax meals casinos provide employees.

While in Las Vegas, Gingrich informed then Rep. John Ensign that he would block an IRS effort to collect taxes on meals provided by casino employers to workers. The gambling industry pushed both Democrats and Republicans to prevent the IRS from collecting these taxes. Eventually an amendment was added to an IRS reform bill which changed IRS rules regarding meals provided to workers. If 50% of employees are allowed to take free meals supplied by hotel owners in order to stay on their post, then all meals provided in that way to all employees would not be taxed as a form of compensation. To read the exact language, see the law with amendment at Section 5002. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the move cost the Treasury $316 million dollars (see below).

The Las Vegas Sun outlined the changes in a June 23, 1998 article:

The exact language of the amendment is still being drafted, but is expected to amend the tax code to allow all employees at a “business premises” to receive meals tax-free as long as more than half of the employees at that location are allowed to receive tax-free meals under current law.

In other words, as long as more than half the employees at a casino are food and drink servers or dealers — job classifications the IRS already recognizes as exempt from the meal-tax — then everyone else at that location is entitled to a tax-free lunch.

That language was drafted after casino operators throughout Nevada said it would solve the problem, Ensign said.

Rep. Ensign gave Speaker Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott ample credit for the change. According the Las Vegas Sun:

In the end, Ensign claims his personal lobbying carried the day.

“I went to the Speaker (of the House, Newt Gingrich), and to Trent (Lott, Senate Majority Leader) and said, ‘We have to have this,”‘ Ensign said in an interview.

A June article in the Review-Journal sounded the same theme:

“This really started getting momentum about the same time (House Speaker Newt) Gingrich came to Las Vegas (in May), and he held a news conference to support us,” Ensign said. “Then we got Lott on board.”

Gingrich also demonstrated favor toward the gambling industry in 2006 when he supported the removal of subpoena power from a commission devised to investigate the gambling industry.

As far as I know, none of these activities are illegal or unethical. I am not insinuating wrongdoing. Rather, I think Speaker Gingrich activities are noteworthy because he is now presenting himself as a Washington outsider. However, while in Washington, he was quite involved in fund raising and working as an insider to respond to donor requests.

The other interesting aspect to this story is the clear tie between Gingrich and the gambling industry. While he courts evangelicals and other family values voters, the lifeblood of his campaign and his non-profit work since the mid-1990s has come from Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands. Gambling profits from the US and Asia are powering the Gingrich campaign. Given that evangelicals consider gambling to be a vice, it seems out of character for them to support a candidate with such a friendly relationship to that industry.

Treasury impact:

The provision [on employer provided meals] is estimated to reduce Federal fiscal year budget receipts by $20 million in 1999, $33 million in 2000, $34 million in 2001, $35 million in 2002, $36 million in 2003, $38 million in 2004, $39 million in 2005, $40 million in 2006, and $41 million in 2007.

Gambling magnate says he expects nothing for his contributions to Gingrich

Of course he says that.

Adelson would defeat his purposes if he said, “I want Newt to keep the Christians and/or Federal government away from my gambling empire.”

ABC News is at least looking into the matter. According to a report from ABC late yesterday, an unnamed source reportedly close to Adelson told ABC News that

Mr. Adelson is “puzzled” by the attention the recent Super PAC gift has received.

The source told ABC News that Adelson wants nothing in return.

Adelson has given over $7 million to Gingrich’s non-profit organizations since the mid-1990s. As I noted yesterday, Gingrich was cozy with the gambling  industry during his time as Speaker of the House. On one occasion, he was instrumental in weakening a commission that investigated the gambling industry.

The ABC report is a bit odd. Why wasn’t the source named? Why did ABC News not interview the Gingrich campaign? How about asking some of Gingrich’s religious right supporters about how they feel about gambling profits being the main lifeblood of their family values candidate.

This denial only raises more questions.

Anti-Gambling Group: Gingrich thwarted efforts to regulate gambling

Given the twin $5 million gifts given by gambling mogul and Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, I wondered if reports of Gingrich favoring the industry would emerge.

According to an anti-gambling group based in Washington DC, Gingrich did in fact work to remove power from a government commission on gambling.

In this 1996 Washington Post article, Gingrich is quoted as favoring the removal of subpoena power from a commission being considered at the time.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has recommended a substantial weakening of a bill to examine the runaway growth of legalized gambling in America.

Speaking Monday at a fund-raiser in a Las Vegas casino, where he raised $70,000 for the reelection campaign of freshman Rep. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Gingrich said that a House bill to create a federal gambling commission should be modified so that the commission does not have the power to issue subpoenas.

According to a 1996 report in the Las Vegas Sun, Gingrich opposed a strong commission which led to some political fallout with a group he is now courting – religious conservatives.

Gingrich’s position has angered religious anti-gaming advocates who believe the gaming industry is calling the shots in Washington, D.C.

Methodist Minister Thomas Grey, executive director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, warned that efforts by Gingrich or other Republicans to water down the gaming commission bill could help Democratic President Clinton secure the “family values” vote in November.

“This could create great problems for Republicans because they’re making this a political issue,” Grey said. “This is a public relations disaster for these people.”

This Chicago Tribune report says Gingrich was the last obstacle of a tougher bill with power to get information via subpoena.

All of this should raise questions for Gingrich given that his non-profit organizations and his campaign have been underwritten by Sheldon Adelson, who casinos cater to gamblers here and in Asia.

Additional information: After I posted on Gingrich and gambling, Right Wing Watch’s Brian Tashman noted that many of Gingrich’s evangelical supporters had spoken out against gambling. Ironically, the American Family Association’s journal wrote about the gambling commission in 1997 and mentioned Gingrich’s role in appointing a person friendly to the gambling industry. He also eventually appointed Kay James, an anti-gambling member as well.

Gambling

Last year Congress voted to establish a nine-member federal commission to study the impact of gambling in America. Under that legislation, the President, the House and the Senate are each to choose three members. Almost $500 billion is wagered annually producing over $40 billion in profits for the gambling industry, countless ruined lives and families, political corruption, and increased crime. The Washington Post recently editorialized that the “big-money gamblers are betting a bundle on President Clinton to do their bidding” and “stack” the commission with those favorable to the gambling interests. According to the Post, on the President’s short list are many with close ties to the gambling industry, including Bill Bible, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) has already used one of his two choices to appoint the chairman and CEO of a Las Vegas casino company. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO), a recipient of big gambling bucks, who gets one selection, favors the head of a union representing casino employees, the Post reports. Thus, the President’s three picks may determine the outcome of the commission’s work. He could make such a positive impact on America if he would only appoint three people with sound Judeo-Christian values and no ties to the gambling industry. Then we may learn the true impact of widespread gambling on America, and then states and communities may have some ammunition against the gambling industry as it seeks to expand. Will the President do the right thing? Don’t bet on it.

The AFA article criticizes Richard Gephardt for taking “big gambling bucks” and yet now Don Wildmon, founder of the AFA, is a supporter of Gingrich. Gingrich’s non-profit organizations have been funded with nearly $8 million in gambling donations and a PAC dedicated to getting him elected has accepted $5 million in donation from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and another $5 million from Adelson’s wife.

Are “big gambling bucks” OK now?

Via the Tampa Bay Times

See also:

Gingrich Gets Five Million From Gambling Mogul’s Wife

I wrote yesterday about the main financial backer of Newt Gingrich – casino owner Sheldon Adelson. According to a New York Times report, Adelson’s wife, Miriam Adelson matched her husband’s pre-South Carolina primary $5 million gift to Gingrich with her own gift of the same amount.  The gift will go to Winning Our Future, a political action committee dedicated to making Gingrich the GOP nominee.

Sheldon Adelson runs an empire of gambling casinos in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore. His company is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department in relation to allegations of bribes in Macau. Macau is the largest gambling market in the world, and caters to high rolling Chinese patrons.

Oddly, Gingrich’s family values campaign owes its life blood to profits made in part from free spending Chinese gamblers.

 

 

Gingrich backed by casino mogul – Is gambling a family value?

I wonder how many of Newt Gingrich’s family values voters are aware that Gingrich is beholden to Sheldon Adelson, billionaire casino owner. According to these reports, Adelson recently gave Gingrich’s SuperPac $5 million.

In the Philadelphia Inquirer article, Gingrich is called a “close friend” of Adelson. A conversation between Adelson and his right hand man, Michael Levin indicates how the gambling mogul cast Romney as a ruthless money man. Apparently it takes lots of money to criticize someone else who has lots of money.

According to the Washington Post, the lion’s share of Gingrich’s financial support comes from Adelson who also counts on Gingrich for policies favorable to Israel. The Post article provides some important background to understand how necessary Adelson has been for Gingrich’s career after he left Congress.

According to an anti-gambling website affiliated with the Institute for American Values, Gingrich’s friendship with Adelson involves more than common ground on Israel:

When he was House speaker, Gingrich helped Adelson combat union organizing efforts at his gaudy Venetian casino in Vegas. Gingrich also backed legislation in 1998 to preserve tax deductions beneficial to the industry, The Times reported. Adelson has donated millions to Gingrich in the past and let him use his corporate jet.

At least one social conservative, Richard Land, editor of the Christian Post and prominent Southern Baptist leader was quoted back in April, 2011 as indifferent to Gingrich’s ties to Adelson.

Gingrich’s tight ties with Adelson could cause heartburn for some social conservatives who oppose gambling. Land, of the Baptist group, said “Gambling is a nefarious industry that corrupts everything it touches.”

But Land said that thus far he is not concerned about the ties, unless Gingrich decides to back the expansion of gambling or Internet gambling or if the criminal investigation leads to charges against the Sands.

I wonder how many religious conservatives even know about these ties? Gingrich is taking money derived from an industry which Land says “corrupts everything it touches.” Via Adelson’s donations, it certainly has touched Gingrich.

Land is certainly in a position to write about Gingrich’s ties to the gambling industry as editor of the Christian Post. However, I don’t recall seeing any articles there or in any evangelical news source about these matters. I think these matters might be relevant to evangelical voters.