McCain says casino mogul is putting ‘foreign money’ into 2012 campaign

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Friday said Mitt Romney is benefiting indirectly from "foreign money" after casino mogul Sheldon Adelson pledged $10 million to a super-PAC that supports his presidential bid.

"Much of Mr. Adelson's casino profits that go to him come from his casino in Macau, which says that obviously, maybe in a roundabout way foreign money is coming into an American political campaign," McCain told PBS's "News Hour."

Adelson, a prominent conservative donor who supported Newt Gingrich in the GOP primary, made his donation earlier this week after a face-to-face meeting with Romney in Las Vegas. A source close to Adelson told Forbes that the casino mogul is ready to do "whatever it takes" to defeat President Obama, including "limitless" donations to the campaign. Adelson told Forbes he could spend as much as $100 million on politics in 2012.

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Campaign finance reform has been a signature issue for McCain, who endorsed Romney for president during the GOP primaries. The Arizona lawmaker said he is concerned about the donation to the Restore Our Future super-PAC that supports Romney.

"That is a great deal of money, and we need a level playing field and we need to go back to the realization ... that we have to have a limit on the flow of money, and corporations are not people," McCain said.

McCain blasted the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which freed individuals and corporations to give to outside groups by striking down parts of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law.

"There will be scandals, there's just too much money washing around Washington today ... I'm afraid we're for a very bleak period in American politics," McCain said. "To somehow view money as not having a corrupting effect on elections flies in the face of reality."

McCain also called the Citizens United decision "the most misguided, naïve, uninformed, egregious decision of the United States Supreme Court in the 21st Century."

In May, The Hill reported McCain was working with congressional Democrats on a new campaign finance proposal that would require outside groups to disclose their donors.

“I’ve been having discussions with Sen. [Sheldon] Whitehouse [(D-R.I.)] and a couple others on the issue,” McCain said. “I want it to be balanced and address the issue of union contributions as well as other outside contributions."

But McCain's efforts — and comments Friday — are likely to earn the ire of some in the Republican leadership. On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said a Democratic challenges to the Citizens United ruling amount to an assault on free speech.

“They would carve a niche out of the First Amendment saying that it’s possible now for the government to control political speech; Citizens United and other campaign finance decisions have made it clear that the government doesn’t have the power under the First Amendment to determine not only what we say but how much we say it. So they can’t control the spending — it promotes speech," McConnell told Fox News.