Is Sheldon Adelson involved in funneling Chinese cash into US election?
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Early in his first term, President Obama announced with much fanfare a re-focus of United States diplomatic and national security interests and resources towards Asia.  Towards the end of that first term, Congress commissioned an independent review to examine the president’s policy. 

Part of that independent review, I joined a team of national security and Asia experts that traveled to the region. We found that the rise of China’s influence, their activities in the South China Sea and around the globe, demanded the United States take keener interest in Asia. 

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We also discovered that China continues shifting resources in our direction.  Including, efforts aimed at influencing our national elections in violation of our laws.

Federal election law prohibits campaigns from knowingly accepting or soliciting donations from foreign nationals.  While the law is clear, so too is China’s track record of actively finding ways around. 

In 1996, Bob Woodward and Brian Duffy of The Washington Post published a story stating that a United States Department of Justice investigation had uncovered evidence that agents of China sought to direct contributions from foreign sources to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) before the 1996 presidential campaign.

In 2012, the Government Accountability Institute suggested a China-based Obama donor had funneled foreign funds to the Obama campaign.  The GAI reported that Robert W. Roche is a prominent Democratic donor with ties to the Chinese government and was an Obama campaign bundler and frequent White House visitor.  The GAI describes Obama.com, a website owned by Roche. The website is examined at length in the report as a major potential gateway for illegal foreign donations to the campaign.  Visitors to the site, more than two-thirds of which are located outside the United States, were redirected to the Obama campaign’s main donation page at barackobama.com.

The GAI investigation found numerous links to Obama.com on foreign blog sites and forum boards, links that “increase the probability that foreign nationals will try to donate to the Obama campaign.” Furthermore, the GAI discovered that search engine optimization (SEO) techniques were employed at some point in order to generate foreign traffic to Obama.com

Now entering the 2016 Presidential election, allegations again are bubbling up.  A watchdog group called Campaign for Accountability (CFA) is questioning Sheldon Adelson and the Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s (LVS) ties to Chinese organized crime in its Macau operations to determine whether illegally laundered foreign funds are making their way into the campaigns of American politicians. Adelson owns LVS. ”Given the extent to which Mr. Adelson’s wealth derives from Macau and his dominant role in funding candidates, it seems highly likely that illegal foreign money has made its way into American elections,” a CFA spokesman related.

Adelson is no minor political figure. In the 2012 elections, he is estimated to have donated over $100 million to Republicans running for president.  In this election, it seems likely he will again put his considerable financial heft behind one or more candidates.

This is particularly troubling, since CFA alleges that LVS is connected to Ng Lap Seng, a Chinese billionaire currently facing criminal charges in New York for trying to bribe a U.N. official. In a report commissioned by LVS, Ng is described as a member of a triad with control of prostitution in Macau.  LVS also is tied to Cheung Chi Tai, who allegedly runs the notorious Wo Hop To Triad. Cheung’s criminal ties are well established, including his role in a murder-for-hire plot.

The Campaign for Accountability filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission and sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.  The campaign asked the two bodies to look into whether the alleged ties to crime are introducing illegally laundered foreign funds into American politics via campaign contributions.  The complaint exhibits encompass hundreds of pages in total and include some disturbing internal LVS company documents.

Given China’s efforts to illegally influence our election process, I agree with CFA that oversight and investigation is warranted.  If China is trying to influence our elections, especially through organized crime syndicates, we have no choice to devote resources to this matter.

Kiley was lead author of a recent congressionally mandated review of the Obama administration’s Rebalance to Asia. He is a former senior professional staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former U.S. Air Force officer.