The $5 million check that saved Newt Gingrich

Call it the check that has already changed the course of a presidential campaign.

Three weeks ago, Newt Gingrich was in the midst of yet another near-death experience in his quest for the White House.

The former Georgia congressman had just received a drubbing in the Iowa caucuses. He was headed for another beat-down in the New Hampshire primary. The future looked bleak.

But in fact, Gingrich’s ticket to resurrection – and a victory in South Carolina — had already been punched, courtesy of a single, $5 million contribution from by Sheldon Adelson, a longtime underwriter of Gingrich’s causes and a Las Vegas casino mogul.

Adelson’s cash went to Winning Our Future, a “super” political action committee that has no formal connection to the presidential candidate. Except that a senior adviser to Winning Our Future is Gingrich’s longtime spokesman, Rick Tyler.

The super PAC spent $3.8 million prior to last Saturday’s vote in South Carolina, most of it on TV attacks aimed at GOP establishment favorite Mitt Romney. Gingrich won by 12 points – and immediately jumped to the top of polls in Florida.

Should he win there next Tuesday, the combative former U.S. House speaker might be on his way to one of the greatest upsets in American political history.

And Adelson’s massive contribution might go down as one of the most pivotal intersections of money and power in that same history book. (Adelson’s wife has already sent Winning Our Future another $5 million.)

The question is whether this is a good thing, a bad thing, or just the new unavoidable reality of our politics today.

This week, the Center for Responsive Politics, which keeps track of the cash in federal elections, declared that spending in 2012 is nearly double what it was in 2008. Of that $44.6 million already spent, 95 percent has come from independent groups — including presidential super PACs – capable of accepting contributions of any amount.

Every GOP presidential candidate now has a shadow super PAC. Gingrich didn’t start the trend – he joined it belatedly, after Restore Our Future, the Romney-allied super PAC, cleaned his clock with non-stop TV attacks in Iowa.

All can be traced to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared that political spending by corporations – and unions, too – qualified as free speech that shouldn’t be fettered by federal limits.

The check that saved Gingrich was the focus of a high-altitude discussion in Atlanta on Wednesday. Specifically, on the 53rd floor of the SunTrust Plaza on Peachtree Street, in the law offices of McKenna Long & Aldridge.

The chief participants were Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Yours truly served as moderator.

“I think democracy is essentially for sale, at this point, to the highest bidder — and I think the Republican party has shown that,” said Dean. “When one guy can put in $10 million of his own money and bring the supposed nominee of the Republican party to his knees – I think that’s pretty shocking.”

Steele, not surprisingly, is more comfortable with the new world. Disclosure requirements need to be improved, he conceded. The sources of money spent by super PACs in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina won’t have to be reported until next Tuesday – the day of the vote in Florida.

Steele characterized Democratic objections as insincere grandstanding to a suspicious public.
“While the Democrats may wail and gnash their teeth, trust me – Barack Obama will take advantage of it – reluctantly — this fall,” Steele said. The word “reluctantly” was iced with sarcasm. “They will play on this playground, because it’s the playground to play on,” Steele said.

But Dean said public suspicion was exactly the point. “If most people believe that politicians can be bought, then most people don’t believe their country works anymore,” he said.

Both men admitted that the advent of super PACs is sure to diminish the power of national parties, which have traditionally been the recipients of large cash contributions – the current federal limit is $30,800 per calendar year. But voter lists will still have to be created and maintained, and volunteers will have to be organized. So political parties — Republican and Democrat — will continue to have a meaning and purpose, they assured their audience.

But we don’t know that for sure.

Stefan Passantino, the legal expert on the panel, noted that the Gingrich super PAC had announced this week that it was branching out. No longer would it restrict itself to the broadcasting of TV attack ads. Though still not accountable to Gingrich, Winning Our Future will begin behaving like a full-blown, shadow campaign organization, lining up volunteers and voters behind the former U.S. House speaker.

If that’s the future, Steele responded, national political parties might have to consider becoming corporations – just to stay competitive, and alive. He was serious.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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49 comments Add your comment

arnold

January 25th, 2012
7:16 pm

Don’t worry. Gingrich will self destruct. Always has, always will.

stinger

January 25th, 2012
7:34 pm

Gingrich is the man to beat Obama. That’s why he’s my man.

AT_Alien_ashamed

January 25th, 2012
7:38 pm

The Ad is correct. Gingrich has too much personal and political baggage to win outside of some southern states.

another comment

January 25th, 2012
7:44 pm

Not really what they envisioned when they wrote the Constitution.

Look before I leap...

January 25th, 2012
7:50 pm

The Citizen’s United ruling did to the democratic process what Roe did to anti-abortionists.

This is who people think can beat Obama?

January 25th, 2012
7:52 pm

I do not like to classify myself in an manner. There are things that I align with from both parties and even the Tea Party. I would like to see a change in Washington, but there is no way Gingrich would win over Obama. Out of everything that cracks me up, it is funny to see the people that say relgion is a major driving force picked him in SC when he cheats with women and in politics. Really?!? He will lose to Obama, and we will continue to get no where with nothing but fighting in DC.

WestOfAthens

January 25th, 2012
7:55 pm

Every time i see a Republican debate/commercial, it assures me our current President will maintain his address in Washington.

This does not matter at all. Period.

Martin Williams

January 25th, 2012
7:57 pm

The best Congress money can BUY and you might as well add the U.S. Supreme Court to that bunch. Sixty minutes had a program that stated that, The United States Congress is the most currupt body of politicians in the world. The U. S. Supreme Court called that freedom of speach. I call it freedom of curruption and that is exactly what Capitalism is all about. People think Socialism is full of dictators and currupt leaders, they should carefully study Capitalism and its evil.

[...] Sheldon AdelsonABC NewsGovernance Matters at Las Vegas Sands in the hands of Sheldon AdelsonForbesAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 249 news [...]

honested

January 25th, 2012
8:10 pm

Ain’t it great….

Politics are now controlled by LV gangsters again.

This must make the repubs so proud!

Will

January 25th, 2012
8:11 pm

Martin Williams…you are quoting 60 minutes…HAHAHAHAHAHA….Good one!!!

michael g.

January 25th, 2012
8:36 pm

Funny that Jim cries foul about $10 Million given to Gingrich, but goes mighty silent when Obozo will have a BILLION in his campaign war chest, thanks largely in part to George Soros. Where’s your outrage to that, Jim-bo?

teewest

January 25th, 2012
8:48 pm

So Newtatron is transforming? So people will vote for him? Talk about cutting off your nose in spite of your face. Really my republican bros Really?

honested

January 25th, 2012
8:50 pm

Somebody blamed Soros.

Everybody drink!

catlady

January 25th, 2012
8:54 pm

I don’t think Gingrich can hold it together more than 6 more months. However, the court ruling is a total travesty. It merely adds to the patina of sh1t that covers politics in Washington and Atlanta.

double

January 25th, 2012
9:11 pm

Of the people.. for the people,, BUY the people.Boehner was almost in tears,and other pugs looked as bad.When you compare dollars,they just buy less.than last year.

jconservative

January 25th, 2012
9:22 pm

“The Associated Press

COCOA, Fla. — Newt Gingrich is promising to establish a permanent base on the moon by 2020 if he’s elected president.”

If he does this I nominate Gingrich to be the first resident mayor of Adelson City, Moon.

double

January 25th, 2012
9:30 pm

Yeah! A moon colony.No more new moons,Just Newt moons. Can’t you just hear it,come on baby fertilize my seed,it’s going to be sent to the moon.

Hillbilly D

January 25th, 2012
9:46 pm

It merely adds to the patina of sh1t that covers politics in Washington and Atlanta.

Well,…… the Mythbusters did prove that you actually can polish a t-rd. Not sure present day campaign finance is exactly what they had in mind, though.

MrLiberty

January 25th, 2012
10:07 pm

Ah yes, the Israel lobby buying yet another politician. Nobody ever questions how we ended up in the middle east, fighting Israel’s battles for them, getting buildings blown up instead of them, etc. Here is how. AIPAC, this clown, and others have owned nearly every president since 1948 and more than enough congressmen and senators to assure complete and total compliance with their foreign policy plans for the US. I wonder if that’s what your sons and daughters really thought they would be fighting for when they joined the military. Anyone who has bothered to study the subject knows that they fight for Israel.

double

January 25th, 2012
10:35 pm

MrLib.do you seriously think it started in 1948?Sure that is when they became a nation.

Frederick Douglass

January 25th, 2012
10:56 pm

Sheldon Adelson’s wife looks like Newt with a very bad wig.

Michael

January 25th, 2012
11:09 pm

Gingrich is dirty and he knows it. He has publicly lamented that no good candidates run because they do not want to put up with the personal destruction. He has lived in his swill for 40 years so he is used to it. He believed no one was capable of delivering his brand of conservative message. So he ran/runs. Not so much to win but to get his message out. If he won he’d likely pull another Palin like he did in ‘86 and resign — he’s gotta get back on the book tour since he has Tiffany to purchase for the Hair Helmet.

honested

January 25th, 2012
11:24 pm

Fredrick..

Is that really his wife or nut in a bad wig?

honested

January 25th, 2012
11:25 pm

Michael,

And ‘his message’ is what?
Maybe ‘I’m the least connected to reality in this race’?

Dr. J.

January 25th, 2012
11:43 pm

Could there be candidates and incumbents, Republican and Democrat, any worse than the buffoons, idiots and failures running for President in 2012? Don’t answer. It’s rhetorical and sad at the same time.

jaypat

January 26th, 2012
12:39 am

Newt has zero chance of becoming president via the ballot. His negatives are so high that even if he could walk on water he couldn’t be elected. Most people think he’s a scumbag, for a wide variety of reasons.

But that’s what they said about Hitler, too. And you know what,I think the odds favor the anti-Obama forces, for some of them are mightily pissed.

Many of us wanted him to begin this “Infrastructure project” two years ago. He barely mentioned it in his measly SOTU address. Damn, dude, what’s so hard about understanding that the public needs streets, water, drainage, sewage, etc. You cite Lincoln, but he lived over 150 years ago. This is now, today.

We really do have a set of rules here, it’s called the constitution. If only the previous presidents had held so strictly to the Constitution.

hiram bronson granbury

January 26th, 2012
1:25 am

The end of the world as we know it started with Reagan – an actor, who delivered his lines as written by his handlers, without a clue as to the consequences. He began the deregulation binge that undid all of the fixes put in place at the end of the Great Depression, and now we are paying the price.

ld

January 26th, 2012
2:28 am

Read Newt wants colony on moon;

article didn’t say if was part of his immigration policy proposal.

ld

January 26th, 2012
2:34 am

I second the nomination for him to be the first, permanent–till death, lifetime term–mayor of the first colony on the moon– and Newt can take his manaquin w/him unless she’s gotten sick enough for him to have traded her in by then.

Joe the Plumber Too

January 26th, 2012
5:06 am

urkle and me-shell will be getting the eviction papers in November. Then the POS can go back to that armpit of a city he calls home and hang out with his boyfriend in the mayors office. barry-boy four and out……what a joke he has been.

BitterEXdemocrackkk

January 26th, 2012
5:27 am

WHY would you waste any time talking with the likes of Howard Dean, the silliest democrackkk of all?

Attack Dog

January 26th, 2012
6:07 am

Just think. The Koch Brothers, Adelson, etal spend more money in a month than Soros and Friends spend in a decades. The Cox Sisters will make a mint off of Dixiecrats this primary election cycle.

Attack Dog

January 26th, 2012
6:10 am

Darn, “spend in a decade!” Just think, Rick Santorum gave basically the same speech after Iowa that Howard Dean did that got overblown as a “Yeehaw” moment. To bad Fox News nor the Liberal Media highlighted the fact.

Attack Dog

January 26th, 2012
6:14 am

Finally, if the Adelson’s can spend $10 million on Newt, they could surely spend $100,000 on this country’s fiscal situation. Can anyone tell us how many good-paying jobs Mitt has created with his “personal” capital tax cuts? Oh, I know. NONE!

What's the difference

January 26th, 2012
6:36 am

So what’s the difference between Romney self funding because he is rich or Soros and the unions funding Obama thru multiple organizations. Just because Newt doesn’t have the funds like these two and now he has someone with funds supporting him the media is critical on Newt? What’s the difference…………….

rad

January 26th, 2012
7:02 am

And of course George Soros is only handing Oh’bummer and the Going Green Cronies a few bucks!! Wake up you ididots. This is how the political game is played…regardless of where the game is being played!! Alays has been….and always will be!!!
Anybody……..anybody…….. but Oh’bummer in 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

lmno

January 26th, 2012
7:05 am

Newt Gingrich is the only speaker of the house to ever be punished for ethics violations. He was basically run out of town in 1999.

So, this unethical politician received $5m from a vegas casino mogul? I am sure that the mogul wants nothing in return, right?

rad

January 26th, 2012
7:15 am

Hey Imno…if you’ll educate yourself, you’ll find that re: Gingrich’s ethic’s troubles…. there was seemingly a conflict of interest…it was acted upon by a bunch of thieves, cronies, and politicos (Congresss) and Gingrich was excommunicated. Further investigation and attempted prosecution by the Justice Department deemed that Gingrich dad ulitmately done nothing wrong and was COMPLETELY EXONERATED. Get your facts straight before you mouth off about things you don’t understand or know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
RD

Ga Values...Ron Paul for Peace & Prosperity

January 26th, 2012
7:23 am

A vote for Newt = A vote for OBAMA

Florida Republican Presidential Primary FL Chamber of Commerce Romney 33, Gingrich 33, Santorum 10, Paul 6 Tie
2012 Republican Presidential Nomination Gallup Tracking Gingrich 31, Romney 28, Santorum 12, Paul 12, Perry Gingrich +3

Minnesota Republican Presidential Caucus PPP (D) Gingrich 36, Romney 18, Santorum 17, Paul 13 Gingrich +18

General Election: Romney vs. Obama Rasmussen Reports Obama 46, Romney 43 Obama +3

General Election: Gingrich vs. Obama Rasmussen Reports Obama 48, Gingrich 41 Obama +7

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/latest_polls/

Ga Values...Ron Paul for Peace & Prosperity

January 26th, 2012
7:28 am

A vote for Newt = A vote for OBAMA

Florida Republican Presidential Primary FL Chamber of Commerce Romney 33, Gingrich 33, Santorum 10, Paul 6 Tie

2012 Republican Presidential Nomination Gallup Tracking Gingrich 31, Romney 28, Santorum 12, Paul 12, Perry Gingrich +3

Minnesota Republican Presidential Caucus PPP (D) Gingrich 36, Romney 18, Santorum 17, Paul 13 Gingrich +18

General Election: Romney vs. Obama Rasmussen Reports Obama 46, Romney 43 Obama +3

General Election: Gingrich vs. Obama Rasmussen Reports Obama 48, Gingrich 41 Obama +7

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/latest_polls/

lmno

January 26th, 2012
8:01 am

Hey Rad, I wrote nothing false.

The House Ethics Committee fined Gingrich $300,000 for ethics violations.

lmno

January 26th, 2012
8:13 am

The problem with Newt and other politicians is the hypocrisy.

WHILE having an affair with an intern, Newt led the charge against Clinton.

If he had an affair, but didn’t lament the “moral decline of America”, then that would be one thing.

It’s like Larry Craig. It’s one thing to engage in homosexual sex in a public bathroom. Its another thing if you do that AND talk about family values and such.

Mark

January 26th, 2012
8:19 am

I have one thing to say…………………..OBAMA 2012!

honested

January 26th, 2012
8:21 am

Imno,

In standard fashion, the professional liars on AM talk radio have carefully been parsing Nut’s fine and related disgrace to pretend it was just a ‘misunderstanding’.
The additional lie added to the initial lie suggests ‘the IRS totally exonerated the former Speaker who resigned in abject disgrace’.
We should all reread Orwell to remember the danger these crass revisionists can do to our Nation.

honested

January 26th, 2012
8:24 am

And, back to the topic, ain’t it great that ‘Las Vegas Moguls’ are back in the business of selecting politicians to run the Country?

Joe the Plumber Too

January 26th, 2012
8:40 am

I have one thing to say……..Mark dumba$$ 2012. urkle and me-shell get evicted and go back to chi-town where they can both do their boyfriend in the mayors office.

Nick

January 26th, 2012
9:04 am

At least you know who gave Newt’s SUPER PAC the money. More than you can say for Willard?

missmollie

January 26th, 2012
11:22 am

He spent his whole speech talking about the Wright Bros/Kitty Hawk/the moon and Mars…a filibuster to take the heat off of himself. Folks, he has lost it…..