The Cost of Big Political Donors is Bigger Political Favors

When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.
― Napoléon Bonaparte

Napoléon was probably crying sour grapes at the fact that his military campaigns in Europe were often funded by the bankers in the countries he was trying to subdue — and that money always has its price politically.

Today is no different. While political differences in America are fought in the ballot box and the courts — not on the battlefield as in 19th-century Europe — money still has its political price.

You Can’t Buy an Election… Yet…

As Sheldon Adelson found out in 2012, you still can’t outright buy elections in the United States. Adelson spent a total of close to $93 million on a hand-picked Republican slate, and not a single one of his choices was elected to national office.

While you can't outright buy the election, you can still sway the legislative process with that kind of open wallet.
While you can’t outright buy the election, you can still sway the legislative process with that kind of open wallet.

And what is near and dear to Adelson’s wallet is becoming nearer and dearer to those who are receiving his funds. Adelson, a casino mogul, has taken a position of being sharply against online gambling, and has renewed his call on the politically faithful to enforce existing laws.

Presidential hopefuls Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), along with a handful of other Republicans and one Democrat have reintroduced S.1668, “A bill to restore long-standing United States policy that the Wire Act prohibits all forms of Internet gambling, and for other purposes.”

This is the second time Graham has introduced this legislation — suspiciously coinciding with a large influx of cash from Adelson into his re-election campaign funds.

Marco Rubio has been aggressively courting Adelson’s backing in the so-called Adelson Primary–and improving Adelson’s bottom line in his core business just might seal the deal at winning him over.

The “Family Values” Political Card

Republicans seem to have made themselves the self-proclaimed defenders of family values, often using it as a political tool to undermine their opponents stances on issues ranging from welfare to abortion.

While critics contend that this is only a blatant example of cronyism and political-payback, supporters are trying to promote this legislation as protecting their platform of family values.

This argument contends that it is easier to limit minor’s access to gambling in brick-and-mortar casinos, than online where anyone can have virtual anonymity.

But this kind of “over-regulation” is also in conflict with the much cherished ideal of eliminating the so-called “nanny state” from American politics — something that Marco Rubio has expressly sought by introducing legislation simplifying the federal regulations on American families.

While this legislation isn’t on the level of the Keystone XL or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it is unique in that it directly rewards a specific donor.

Buying influence is nothing new in American history, but at some point we ought to be honest about the practice.

While unlikely, it would be refreshing to see a politician actually admit to pandering to their campaigning coffers, instead of hiding behind family values or rejecting the nanny state.

Photo Credit: Brian A Jackson / shutterstock.com