Las Vegas Sun

August 31, 2016

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Jon Ralston:

Adelson’s riff, Reid’s flexibility and Sanson’s embarrassment

Gondolier Numero Uno Sheldon Adelson says Newt is sinking faster than Venice, Meddler-in-Chief Harry Reid pays back Byron Georgiou for obeying him, and a phony special interest exposes itself (twice) — here’s your Friday Flash:

• Sheldon sugarcoats the GOP presidential race: The Las Vegas Sands chairman was caught in a rare moment of political punditry recently (it was pretty good, so my job may be in jeopardy!) by the Jewish Journal, which posted a video of him distilling the Republican race for the White House even as he entombed his longtime friend Newt Gingrich as being at the “end of his line.”

The widely circulated remarks from Adelson displayed the unvarnished candor that can only come if you are worth $25 billion, most of your business is in Macau and you really don’t care what anyone thinks.

In just a few minutes, besides his Gingrich burial, Adelson said Rick Santorum was “too social” and “I don’t want him to run my country.” He said Mitt Romney is not a “bold decision-maker” and compared him to President Barack Obama as an Illinois state senator when he “didn’t want to establish a record for himself for either partisan or nonpartisan issues.”

As for the man he and his family invested $16.5 million in this cycle, Adelson said of Gingrich: “Mathematically he can’t get anywhere near the numbers, and it’s unlikely to be a brokered convention.”

So whither the Adelson fortune now, besides Macau and Spain? GOP Chairman Reince Priebus had dinner with Adelson and others a week ago, according to various reports. But I doubt he needed to do his “We love you, Sheldon” shtick. Adelson seems committed to defeating the president — and I didn’t need his “Obama Oy Vey!” button to tell me that.

(A full transcript of Adelson’s remarks is here. )

• That was then, this is now: Consistency is the hobgoblin of less flexible politicians than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

When Congress was investigating the financial meltdown a few years ago and entrepreneur Byron Georgiou was an ambitious guy with a lot of (campaign) money, Reid gave him a plum assignment to an oversight panel. But after Georgiou had the temerity to stay in the 2012 U.S. Senate race despite the entrance of Reid’s anointed choice, Rep. Shelley Berkley, the majority leader unloaded on Georgiou and wished he hadn’t appointed him. Check out this brutal Reid evisceration of then-candidate Georgiou here.

Georgiou eventually saw the light — don’t they all? — and bent to Reid’s will, bowing out of the contest to make way for Berkley. And, so, Thursday on the U.S. Senate floor, Reid told his colleagues: “One of the (people) I’m going to visit next week is a man by the name of Byron Georgiou, who has developed a company for electric cars. I’m looking forward to that. They are manufactured there in Nevada. It’s programs like this that we need.”

There you have it. Byron Georgiou went, in Harry Reid’s estimation, from qualified appointee (not running for Senate) to horrible reprobate (running for Senate) to energy visionary (not running for Senate).

Imagined conversation: “Hey, Byron, get out and I not only won’t stop smearing you, I’ll hype your business for you.”

No one — and I mean no one — does this stuff better with a straight face than Harry Reid.

• The unmasking of Veterans In Politics International continues: It does not cease to amaze me that anyone regards the group run by Steve Sanson with anything other than derision or why anyone would think this amateur outfit confers the imprimatur of veteran support.

Two examples from this week are stark.

First, Sanson sent out a news release on behalf of ex-Henderson Councilwoman Kathleen Vermillion, making claims that were either patently absurd or false. (For instance, the release claimed she had been exonerated by a polygraph on allegations of misusing charity funds. Later that day, the polygrapher sent out a release saying she had never been asked about it.)

Second, and even more astonishingly, Sanson issued a missive announcing candidate interviews for Veterans In Politics International’s Assembly endorsements. And who will be moderating these interviews? Republican Assemblyman John Hambrick.

Yes, you read that right. Sanson has enlisted a GOP assemblyman to “interview” candidates for the Assembly. You couldn’t make this stuff up, folks.

I can’t imagine many Democrats will show up, although some have confirmed judging from the release’s list of those who “confirmed their attendants (sic) to be interviewed.” So they can bring their attendants instead of appearing themselves?

One last note: Who did Gov. Brian Sandoval’s “Office of Veterans Services” honor as March’s “Veteran of the Month”? Steve Sanson.

• Correction: Last Friday, I erroneously wrote that Michael McDonald was recalled from the Las Vegas City Council. I should have said “ousted” (by Janet Moncrief, who was later recalled). Mea culpa.

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