Marco Rubio has seen a slight boost in the presidential polls recently, leading or tying Jeb Bush in several key states. The senator is increasingly seen as a potential consensus candidate for Republican establishment forces to unite around if Bush continues to fail to push Trump and Carson out of their current frontrunner limelight.
In fact, one of the Republican Party’s most prolific donors is reportedly courting Rubio. Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate with a net worth of $25 billion, recently met with Rubio and was said to be favorable to lending his support. As Politico’s Alex Isenstadt noted, an endorsement from the billionaire could come at any moment now.
Adelson is known for his extremely hawkish national security views that line-up well with Rubio’s. But their relationship goes beyond affection for neoconservative foreign policy, extending into territory that can be rightfully criticized as cronyism.
As Rare previously reported, Adelson has long pushed a bill called the Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA), aimed at banning online gambling. This bill, which would be a boon to Adelson’s posh casinos, was introduced in Congress by two presidential candidates who have earned financial support from Adelson in the past: Lindsey Graham and Rubio.
On Wednesday, just hours before the third Republican presidential debate, a hearing was held on Capitol Hill in support of RAWA. As a press release sent by the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling explained, the group aims to institute a federal prohibition on an activity that conservative critics believe should be left to states.
Given that a hearing on a bill he has sponsored was held on was held the same day as a Republican debate, perhaps Rubio should be asked tonight why he wants a federal ban on online gambling—something a majority of Americans opposes?
Perhaps Rubio should be asked to address the fact that he’s engaged in an act of cronyism disguised as a pro-family measure?
After all, Adelson and his primary business ventures don’t exactly represent paragons of virtue from the perspective of social conservatives, who typically oppose gambling across the board.
Conservatives who are interested in promoting free market measures ought to think twice about Rubio’s alleged commitment to their interests.
In addition to appearing to do Adelson’s bidding with RAWA, Rubio has long supported sugar subsidies, based on the absurd premise that they’re necessary for “national security.” Yes, really.
As Windsor Mann explained at National Review:
“If we eliminate our sugar subsidies first, Rubio warned, ‘other countries will capture the market share, our agricultural capacity will be developed into real estate, you know, housing and so forth, and then we lose the capacity to produce our own food, at which point we’re at the mercy of a foreign country for food security.’ Let’s try to untangle this. If we get rid of sugar subsidies, Americans will turn their sugar farms into condominium lots and start buying sugar from foreigners, who will starve us until we surrender to ISIS. Or something like that.”
If Rubio continues to rise in the polls, his record (and chronic absenteeism in the Senate) ought to be further scrutinized, particularly by fiscal conservatives who value individual freedom. After all, Rubio’s willingness to do the bidding of the casino and sugar lobbies represents the kind of cronyism the tea party was originally founded to fight.