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The plutocrats who bankrolled the GOP primaries -- and what they want in return

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By the grace of Citizens United, America has Adelson to thank for Newt Gingrich's preposterous presidential run this year, for he single-handedly kept the insufferable blowhard in the race by dumping a stunning $21.5 million into Gingrich's Winning Our Future SuperPAC. He said he was willing to put down $100 million on the Newt to win the nomination, but alas, the candidate was so pompous and unpleasant that few people besides Sheldon found him appealing.

It's not that Adelson was in a swoon over Gingrich -- rather, he knows from experience that the former Speaker would do some heavy lifting for him if he won. In the mid-1990s, Gingrich went to Nevada to support the casino boss in a fight to weaken unions, and he later helped move a bill in Washington that was beneficial to gaming moguls. He also became an ardent advocate of Adelson's rabid right-wing embrace of Israel's most fanatical nationalistic factions. In turn, Adelson has been a reliable donor over the years to various branches of Dr. Newt's Snake Oil Emporium. He is quite fluent in quid pro quo, and he certainly could use a trusted consigliere in the White House these days, for his gaming conglomerate is under scrutiny by two federal agencies over accusations that it bribed its way into China.

Newt's gone, but Adelson is not. He's expected to appear on Romney's list of super-givers, and he suggests that next he will funnel untold sums of money into an anti-Obama "(c)(4)," such as Rove's Crossroads GPS.

Harold Simmons, $5.2 million. An 80-year-old multi-billionaire based in Dallas, this hardcore rightist is both a corporate buccaneer and political profiteer, often combining the two to line his own pockets. A sterling example of this was his investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Rick Perry's gubernatorial runs. Then, with a grateful governor in power, one of Simmons' corporate entities, Waste Control Specialists, applied in 2004 for the permit to build and run the state-authorized nuclear waste dump. After studies and hearings, however, scientists at the state environmental agency nixed WCS's West Texas site, for it endangered the invaluable Ogallala freshwater aquifer. Out of the blue, though, the agency's executive director (appointed by Perry) nixed the scientific nix, formally recommending to the agency's commissioners (appointed by Perry) that they approve the WCS application for the license, which they did. The director has since resigned his state position to become a lobbyist--for WCS.

Simmons was all over the GOP primary contests this year, betting on various candidates as one after another surged in the polls. He put a million bucks behind Perry, $1.1 million behind Gingrich, $1.2 million behind Santorum, and presently has $800,000 on Romney. But his favorite role is political assassin-- he bankrolled the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's untruthful ambush of John Kerry's campaign in 2004, and he was the sole funder of a nasty PR attempt in 2008 to tie Obama to a former radical from the 1960s. "If we had run more ads," Simmons later bemoaned to the Wall Street Journal, "we could have killed Obama."

He's trying harder this year, having already put $12 million into a Karl Rove SuperPAC that's presently softening up Obama with a series of early attack ads.

Bob Perry, $4.1 million. Even though they're unrelated, this 79-year-old Houston homebuilding tycoon is nonetheless Gov. Rick's "daddy," having fathered his gubernatorial career with a big infusion of money and nurtured it with more cash over the years than anyone. And when daddy calls, Rick jumps. For instance, after Texas homeowners began filing mold-related lawsuits against Perry Homes and other builders in 2003, the furious billionaire got his boy to pass a law that shunted aggrieved consumers away from the courts into a new regulatory agency called the Residential Construction Commission. This body was such an industry-controlled sham that it even embarrassed the Texas legislature, which dismantled it in 2009.

In the current campaign, Perry dropped a token $100,000 into Rick's 2012 presidential flop, before putting $4 million into Romney's SuperPAC. In addition, Perry has been a longtime deep pocket for Karl Rove's right-wing rampages and other extremist political ventures, including being top donor to the 2004 "Swift Boat" ad blitz and -- no surprise -- then giving $500,000 to Wisconsin's autocratic, anti-worker governor, Scott Walker. Rove's Obama-bashing SuperPAC has already banked $2.5 million from Perry for this year's election mischief and will likely be blessed with much more.

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Next comes a covey of four SuperPAC donors of at least $2 million each:

Peter Thiel, a one-time Wall Street derivatives trader who later founded and was CEO of PayPal Inc., as well as being an early investor in Facebook. This internet billionaire has long been involved in anti-government ideological groups, including such Koch-funded operations as the Federalist Society and the Pacific Research Institute. He has become the best pay pal by far of Ron Paul's Endorse Liberty SuperPAC, filling it with $2.7 million.

William Dore, chieftain of Dore Energy, his eponymous oil & gas corporation based in Louisiana. A newcomer to the big-game safari of national politics, the 69-year-old near-billionaire got turned on by Rick Santorum's religio-politico crusade, putting $2.25 million into the donation plate of his Red White and BlueSuperPAC.

Foster Friess, a multi-millionaire stock speculator (Brandywine Fund) who moved to Wyoming because of its regulatory leniency and tax-friendliness to the wealthy. This vain and boorish 71-year-old has been a major donor to Christian, Republican, and radical right causes (including at least a million bucks to Koch fronts and campaigns), and he helped fuel Santorum's SuperPAC with $2.25 million this year.

Steven Lund, the former president of Nu-Skin, a Utah-based vitamin-supplement-ointment direct marketer that has a history of legal problems over accusations that it is a pyramid scheme. He turns out to be the secret source of two, separate million-dollar donations to Romney's SuperPAC, one listed as coming from "F8 LLC" and the other from "Eli Publishing." While both "companies" reported that their business address was "Suite #420" in a Provo office building, there is no such suite, nor do the companies exist. Lund says he used the fake storefronts because he didn't want to draw attention to himself.

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Thanks a million!

Of course, in our Brave New SuperPAC Democracy, you don't have to give two-to-20 million dollars to be considered a valuable citizen -- as little as $1 million can buy you some influence in your government!

One group that is buying heavily into Romney's Restore Our Future SuperPAC is a band of citizens that feels the government is inattentive to their needs: Wall Street bankers. Hedge fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin issued the group's poignant cry for justice: "I think [the wealthy] actually have insufficient influence [in Washington]. Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system [must] protect the system."

Accordingly, this patriot of plutocracy has put just over a million into Romney's fund and another million into Rove's SuperPAC.

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Jim Hightower is an American populist, spreading his message of democratic hope via national radio commentaries, columns, books, his award-winning monthly newsletter (The Hightower Lowdown) and barnstorming tours all across America.


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