Today Paul Ryan is kissing the ring of Organized Crime figure Sheldon Adelson at his casino in Las Vegas, the Venetian. Although no one expects Adelson to lure Ryan into the same kind of honey trap he caught House Armed Services chairman Buck McKeon in, Ryan should be steering clear of this kind of character. Adelson makes most of his billions not from his Las Vegas gambling empire, but from his shady dealings in Red China. Ryan has enough ethical problems of his own without being seen with a pimp and whore-monger like Adelson. But, at this point Republicans must figure it's just not avoidable. Adelson is the Daddy Warbucks of the GOP. He's doled out more dark, dirty cash to Mitt Romney and to the Republican Party-- not to mention an unprecedented $5 million each to Boehner and Cantor-- than anyone else... in history. He owns them-- with his pro-outsourcing/anti-labor/pro-wars-in-the-Middle East policy agenda.
Because the slobbish avatar of greed and divisiveness is also very litigious, media outlets are extremely careful of writing about his career as a criminal chieftain. Yesterday's NY Times, however, ran a tip-toe-around his pimp business in a new report by Michael Luo and Edward Wong. It starts with an explanation of one of Adelson's many "fixers" in Beijing. (Keep in mind, Adelson owns hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling debts at his casino from Buck McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who gets top security briefings the Chinese government and the People?s Liberation Army are very interested in.)
When Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, needed something done in China, he often turned to his company?s ?chief Beijing representative,? a mysterious businessman named Yang Saixin.
Mr. Yang arranged meetings for Mr. Adelson with senior Chinese officials, acted as a frontman on several ambitious projects for Mr. Adelson?s company, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and intervened on the Sands?s behalf with Chinese regulators. Mr. Yang even had his daughter take Mr. Adelson?s wife, Miriam, shopping when she was in Beijing.
?Adelson and I had a good relationship,? Mr. Yang said in a recent interview in Hong Kong. ?He should thank me.?
Mr. Yang joined the Sands in 2007 as the company worked to protect its interests in Macau, where its gambling revenues were mushrooming, and pressed ahead with plans for a resort in mainland China. Boasting of ties to the People?s Liberation Army and China?s state security apparatus, Mr. Yang was hired for his guanxi, that mixture of relationships and favors that is critical to opening doors in China, according to former executives.
But today, Mr. Yang, along with tens of millions of dollars in payments the Sands made through him in China, is a focus of a wide-ranging federal investigation into potential bribery of foreign officials and other matters in China and Macau, according to people with knowledge of the inquiries.
The investigations are unfolding as Mr. Adelson has become an increasing presence in this year?s presidential election, contributing at least $35 million to Republican groups. On Tuesday, Mitt Romney?s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, is to appear at a fund-raiser at the Sands?s Venetian casino in Las Vegas; Mr. Adelson is likely to attend, according to a person close to him.
In the political arena, Mr. Adelson is perhaps best known as a hawkish defender of Israel. But whatever the outcome of the inquiries involving his businesses in China, an examination of those activities suggests a keen interest in Washington?s China policy and highlights the degree to which politics and profits are often intertwined for Mr. Adelson.
The Sands has faced a conundrum in China as a casino company whose fortunes are heavily dependent on its operations in a country where gambling is illegal, except in Macau. The company relies on the good will of Chinese officials, who mete out approvals and have the power to curtail the flow of mainland visitors. As a result, Mr. Adelson has sought to use financial clout and connections to exert political influence at the highest levels of government.
On the front lines of those efforts was Mr. Yang, who was paid a $30,000-a-month retainer by the company before he was fired in 2009, he said. At times, he acted as Mr. Adelson?s personal guide to the Chinese establishment. Among the dignitaries he took Mr. Adelson to see was Wan Jifei, a leading international trade official whose father had been vice premier. That led to a lunch with other trade officials at the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square.
The Sands later hired Mr. Wan?s daughter, Bao Bao, a socialite and jewelry designer, to do public relations. And the trade agency Mr. Wan ran became a partner in the Sands?s biggest venture, the Adelson Center for U.S.-China Enterprise.
Chinese leaders at the time were worried about a pending House resolution condemning the country?s bid for the 2008 Olympic Games because of its human rights record. According to Mr. Weidner?s deposition in the Suen case, Mr. Adelson promised Beijing?s mayor he would do what he could. Mr. Adelson called his friend Tom DeLay, then the House majority whip, catching him at a Fourth of July barbecue. Mr. DeLay said he would check on the resolution?s status.
Several hours later, Mr. DeLay called and told Mr. Adelson he was in luck. The resolution was stuck behind a series of other bills.
?So you tell your mayor, it can be assured that this bill will never see the light of day,? Mr. DeLay said, according to Mr. Weidner.
The next morning, the Sands executives met with Qian Qichen, a Chinese vice premier, at the Purple Light Pavilion, where the government?s leaders greet foreign dignitaries. Mr. Qian suggested he would ensure a limitless supply of gamblers to Macau.
In May 2004, the Sands Macau became the first foreign-owned casino in the enclave. On opening day, a mob estimated at 20,000 pushed over crowd-control barriers, ripping doors off their hinges. In its first year, the casino?s profits exceeded its entire $265 million cost. ... The Sands pursued a strategy of engaging with Beijing. It stepped up participation in China-related programs with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and hired Myron Brilliant, its senior vice president for international affairs, as a consultant. He suggested establishing a trade center, to help American businesses pursue opportunities in China. Not only could the center funnel convention traffic to Macau, it could foster better relations with Chinese officials.