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Adelson’s business and Romney’s religion

Columbia journalism professor Thomas Edsall goes after Mitt Romney for his association with mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. Writing in The New York Times, Edsall notes the various exposes and investigations into Adelson’s business activities, but he also brings Romney’s religion into his critique.

Edsall suggests that Adelson’s status as a casino tycoon contrasts with the values of Romney’s Mormon Church, which is vehemently opposed to gambling. Edsall goes so far as to quote Mormon websites on the church’s view of gambling.

“At a minimum, Romney could tell us how he reconciles the values he says he stands for with the basis on which Adelson’s fortune is built,” Edsall writes.

Romney has tried (to a great degree) to keep the specifics of his Mormon faith out of the political arena. Edsall’s essay can be seen as an effort to drag Romney’s religious commitments into the political discussion.

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Edsall’s critique does beg a few questions: Would Edsall also have Romney eschew donations from liquor barons on the basis of his Mormon faith? If Romney, because of his Mormonism, were to distance himself from donors who made their money from gambling (or alcohol), wouldn’t he be vulnerable to accusations that he was inappropriately injecting his religion into politics?

Edsall also extesnively discusses recent reporting on and investigations into Adelson’s business practices in China. The latest news on that front came last week when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee retracted press releases suggesting (on the basis of allegations made in a lawsuit, which Adelson has denied) that the tycoon’s political largesse was linked to “Chinese prostitution money.” The DCCC publicly labeled its statements “untrue and unfair,” after Adelson threatened to sue the group.

Adelson’s lawyers recently sent a letter to the National Jewish Democratic Council, which has highlighted the allegations that were raised by the DCCC.

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