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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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