John McCain’s Weird Allegation About “Foreign Money”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnmccain/5066150496/in/photostream">John McCain</a>/Flickr

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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) appeared on PBS’s Newshour on Thursday and confirmed what we’d hinted at last week: When it comes to campaign finance reform, Mac is back. McCain unloaded on the Supreme Court decisions that opened the floodgates of outside spending, calling Citizens United “the most misguided, naïve, uninformed, egregious decision of the United States Supreme Court in the 21st Century.” But his comments on GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson have received the most media attention:

Senator and Romney presidential campaign surrogate John McCain (R-AZ) said Thursday that casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is indirectly injecting millions of dollar in Chinese “foreign money” into Mitt Romney’s presidential election effort.

“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 said in an interview on PBS’s News Hour.

Really, though? Inserting foreign money into an election is illegal. This was a big deal in the 1990s when foreign nationals were caught funneling money to benefit Democrats. But McCain is talking about something different. His argument is that Adelson is injecting foreign money into the campaign by…duping Chinese tourists into playing his slot machines. How, exactly, would one go about cracking down on this kind of thing? Would it apply to people who sell fake Rolexes to tourists in Battery Park too? With Adelson reportedly considering spending a “limitless” amount of money electing Romney, there’s plenty to worry about, but McCain’s barking up the wrong tree on this one. The true issue is not the source of Adelson’s wealth—assuming his money is all legit—but the fact that one multi-billionaire can dump tens of millions of dollars, if not more, into the race and possibly tip the scales. This is not about China. This is a made-in-the-USA problem.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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