By OLIVER WILLIS/Media Matters For America:
Last year conservative media decried a Justice Department investigation into Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. as a politically-motivated "abuse of power." But now the company itself has admitted they were probably in violation of the law.
Sheldon Adelson is the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., a casino and resort operating firm. Hereportedly spent nearly $150 million to influence the 2012 election via donations to a super Pac allied to Mitt Romney and other outside groups (including Karl Rove's American Crossroads).
During the campaign, Adelson reportedly alleged that he was making such large donations in part because he had been unfairly targeted by the Justice Department, which was investigating whether Sands operations in China had violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an anti-bribery statute. But in its most recent annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Las Vegas Sands Corporation admitted that the company's own audit committee believes there were "likely violations" of that law:
As part of the annual audit of the Company's financial statements, the Audit Committee advised the Company and its independent accountants that it had reached certain preliminary findings, including that there were likely violations of the books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA and that in recent years, the Company has improved its practices with respect to books and records and internal controls.
Bloomberg reports: "The findings signal repercussions for Sands from U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice investigations of possible violations of the act, which prohibits improper business payments outside the U.S."
When the first stories of a Justice Department investigation into Las Vegas Sands were revealed in August 2012, conservative media outlets echoed Adelson's claim that the investigation was politically motivated.
Those claims reached Fox Business, where host Lou Dobbs claimed that "you have the Justice Department going after Sheldon Adelson" in a manner that "looks like politics." Dobbs also claimed that the "Obama Justice Department" was "choosing this time to go after one of the major contributors to the Republican Party" and questioned why the DOJ wasn't investigative George Soros. GOP political analyst Ron Christie told Dobbs, "For the government to start singling out individuals based on their political beliefs and their political affiliation for investigation is tyranny."
Fox Nation's headline for an AP report on the investigation similarly claimed that "This Stinks of Obama-Holder Abuse of Power."
Such claims were also prevalent on conservative blogs. In an article headlined "Probe of Romney's wealthiest donor shows Obama's Justice Department is brazenly politicized, The Blaze reported, "Government officials will no doubt claim the timing of the probe is coincidental, but that is asking us to believe a lot. The article continued, "To suggest the timing of this had no political motive strains credulity. The timing is indeed everything."
Breitbart.com juxtaposed an Obama campaign email attacking Adelson with news of the investigation, stating that while "the DOJ investigation may or may not be politically motivated," "Attorney General Eric Holder has done his best to turn the department into a political arm of the Obama administration." They added, "Certainly, the timing of the DOJ investigation and the Obama campaign's message is more than suspicious."
Conservative blogger Jim Hoft also accused the "Holder Justice Department" of "go[ing] after [a] top Romney donor."