Romney, Richard Nixon, and Las Vegas Cash: A Hidden History Repeats Itself - By Thom Hartmann and Lamar Waldron

A hugely-wealthy casino tycoon--whose empire is the subject of government investigations and media scrutiny--pours huge sums of money into the presidential campaign of the Republican nominee, while the ostensibly anti-gambling Mormon church looms in the background. Sound familiar? That scenario doesn’t just apply to Mitt Romney and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson—it also describes the support that billionaire Howard Hughes gave to Richard Nixon, decades earlier.

What this article points out for the first time is that Adelson’s Sands Corporation is the same company that billionaire Howard Hughes once used to funnel his “contributions” to Richard Nixon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Howard Hughes originally bought the Sands with the help of Mafia don Johnny Rosselli, whom long-secret Watergate files released only this year show was central to the Watergate scandal that ended Nixon’s presidency (as documented in Waldron’s recent book, Watergate: The Hidden History).

Just as it might seem odd in 2012 that the conservative Mormon Romney would accept massive support from a gambling tycoon like Adelson, the decision of Hughes in 1970 to shift of control of the Sands and his other Las Vegas casinos to what has been described as a Mormon business cabal put prominent church members in the odd position of running what was in the 1970s a Mafia-linked casino empire.

Even more, the Hughes-Mormon alliance helped lead to the events of Watergate, when Mormon Washington PR man Robert Bennett became the new link between Nixon and the Hughes casino empire. CIA files confirm that Bennett’s Washington PR firm provided much assistance to the Agency, while Bennett provided cover employment for White House consultant E. Howard Hunt, who soon masterminded the Watergate burglaries. Declassified files also show that Bennett himself leaked information to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward; Bennett later became a prominent Senator from Utah.

The odd repeating of history of the Nixon-Hughes-Sands-Mormon connection and the alliance forty years later of the Romney-Adelson-Sands-Mormon group is only one of several key parallels between Romney and Nixon. Those parallels aren’t immediately obvious to many, because the image of Nixon held by most Americans is of the post-Watergate hearings Nixon, that of the increasingly besieged President. Often forgotten is how popular Nixon was for many months after the Watergate arrests, not just with the public, but even more so with the press.

Just as the mainstream press seemed for months to have little interest in Romney’s many homes and murky income tax situation--and left many subjects unresolved, from Romney’s extremely lucrative I.R.A. situation to his supposedly blind trust--the press in 1972 was overwhelmingly supportive of Nixon. Watergate was barely in the news for most of America’s journalists for many months after the arrests.

Though the culpability of Nixon and his White House seems obvious in hindsight, the scandal had zero effect on the election, which occurred less than five months after the Watergate arrests. The efforts of a few media outlets, like the Washington Post and CBS, to investigate the scandal are well-known today.

But at the time of the election, they had made no dent in Nixon’s popularity or in persuading most of the nation’s press to seriously investigate the matter. American newspapers overwhelmingly endorsed Nixon in the fall of 1972, at a rate far exceeding Nixon’s support among voters. White House tapes show that Nixon was fond of talking about “the ten thousand” editors, producers, and journalists who could always be counted on to back Nixon, and they were never more effective than in the 1972 election.

Romney and the Republicans’’ tactic of making many well-documented false and misleading statements—to mislead voters, muddy the waters, and take the oxygen out of efforts to look into other aspects of Romney’s business and personal life—was actually perfected by Nixon. When Richard Nixon was proclaiming “I am not a crook,” while knowing that’s exactly what he was, Nixon was simply continuing a pattern he’d begun with his very first run for Congress in 1946.

In that campaign, and all of his later ones, Nixon perfected the art of lying to and misleading voters. For example, he claimed to be the “law and order President,” while spawning a massive criminal operation in the White House that would eventually see dozens of his officials indicted or convicted. Likewise, when Nixon publicly claimed in the 1968 presidential race to have a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War, the public didn’t know that he was secretly torpedoing President Lyndon Johnson’s effort to end the war, committing what Johnson himself later termed “treason” and leaving Nixon responsible for almost half the total casualties in the conflict.

Nixon’s willingness to do anything to win election or reelection seems to be playing out again today, with the massive Republican efforts to suppress the rights of legitimate voters and groups who tend to vote Democratic. Only the coming days will tell us if the election crimes apparently committed in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 are going to be topped by GOP actions in those states and others in 2012.

This brief article can only scratch the surface of the many parallels between Nixon and the tactics of Romney’s Republican Party in 2012. Romney’s well-documented reluctance to release all of his taxes filings is no doubt because he remembers how Nixon was pilloried for paying a tax rate far below that of the working people who put him in office.

In many ways, Fox News—run by Nixon’s former media advisor, Roger Ailes—has created a 24-hour Nixonian propaganda operation, which creates its own reality (or unreality), just as Nixon often did. The “dirty tricks”—as Nixon liked to call his election crimes—currently being practiced by GOP supporters and operatives, as detailed by the Huffington Post and experts like New York University media professor Mark Crispin Miller, have an all too familiar ring to anyone who has studied Nixon’s tactics through the years.

The parallels between Romney’s campaign and Nixon also show us what could be expected if Romney wins.

Massive corporate support generating massive corporate handouts; foreign dictatorships having an increasing role in US elections; more US military involvement to generate more profits for Republican backers, etc.. (When Howard Hughes gave Nixon large sums of cash for the 1968 campaign, he said he wanted the Vietnam War continued, so the could get a good return on his helicopter contacts with the US government. )

One wonders what will happen to the investigations of Sheldon Adelson, in the US and overseas, if Romney manages to become president. (We want to point out that, unlike Nixon and Hughes, Adelson has no ties to the Mafia, and he purchased the Sands corporation in 1988.)

The result of Romney’s use of Nixonian tactics may be known by tonight, or it may take days or weeks, or even months, depending on how close the election is. Regardless of the outcome, if there’s no change in the increasing sums of “dark money” flowing into campaigns and the massive tide of misleading propaganda in the form of ads and PR, the dark shadow of Richard Nixon will continue to fall over all US elections to come.

Radio & TV host Thom Hartmann and author Lamar Waldron have written two books about the JFK assassination and its aftermaths, the most recent being “Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination,” soon to be made into a major motion picture by Warner Brothers, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Waldron’s most recent book is Watergate: The Hidden History. Hartmann’s most recent book is Threshold: The Progressive Plan to Pull America Back From the Brink.


BARBARA NECKER 10 years 19 weeks ago

The GOP package of dirty tricks seems endless. When are folks going to catch on that these people are not to be trusted?

Global's picture
Global 10 years 19 weeks ago

The left-right paradigm continues. The right is the bad guy, no the left is the bad guy, no it is the right, no it is the left. Left-right-left-right-left-right we march on oblivious to reality and true freedom of choice. We listen to the talking heads on radio and tv create the never ending "straw man". Bring on the citizen journalist and do question everything you hear and understand what is behind the curtain.

Kend's picture
Kend 10 years 19 weeks ago

As a outsider looking in I must say you all should be a shamed of yoursevles. I can't beleive the lies that are told on both sides. The worst part is it isn't just the politicians, it is the media. All media. Voters must be so confused. Its seems you vote on what the media tells you not what the politicians say. I watched alot of the coverage and still have no idea what Obama's plan is to get the US out of this mess. Romney might help as the people with money might invest some if they are not worried about getting taxed to death. But who knows.

Maybe its time you had a third party and met in the middle somewhere. It keeps all parties closer to the center where everyone can get along. What ever happens I wish you all best. You live in the second greatest nation (sorry I love Canada) in the world and you all deserve better. Yes even you libreals I spat with once in a while here. What ever happens all the best to all of you.

God bless America

Canada Ken

historywriter's picture
historywriter 10 years 19 weeks ago

We can't chalk up the lies to "both sides do it," each party is equally to blame, because they are not. Republicans have a long history of dirty tricks that are in no way equaled by the Democrats. I can't think of a one, in fact. Some of them have been: robocalls that give false information about voting, time and place and that sort of thing, sending out letters to registered voters and if they come back, taking them off the rolls, purging the rolls before the election, and providing too few polling places in poorer districts so that voters will give up and go home without voting.

Democrats lie and exaggerate, too, but the republicans really outweigh the Democrats in the repeated lies, patently false, the severity of some of them--and keep on telling them when they are proven false. One Romney aide said, "we aren't going to let the fact-checkers change our campaign," or something similar.

historywriter's picture
historywriter 10 years 19 weeks ago

Oh, and the dirtiest trick of all--the whole Nixon scandal and Watergate break-in. (Before that Agnew had to resign over some financial finagling he did).

David Abbot's picture
David Abbot 10 years 19 weeks ago

I agree with what you say about Romney and the Mormon church having a very long-standing tradition of total hypocricy. At the top levels, many church officials are about as devout as Nero, and more than willing to fiddle away while their parishioners- and in fact the entire world- goes to hell in a handbasket. American politics has almost always been an unholy manage a trois between sleazy politicians, huge money, and "religion."

And sure, Watergate was the wrong thing to do, But let's put breaking into that hotel room into perspective: when compared to Vietnam, Korea, and the horrific, economy- and nation-destroying crimes that all of our presidents in the last 70 or so years have signed of on, in terms of ruining the economies and/or instigating armed conflicts in Mexico, Central America, South America, Asia, Yugoslavia, and the Middle East, Watergate was like having an expired parking meter.

How many hundreds of thousands or millions of people have been tortured or murdered by rulers that our presidents put into office in those countries, or in wars that we instigated and funded? Then there's the million or so people that our military killed in Iraq, and the Gulf war that we started to protect transnational oil company that was slant drilling into Iraq and stealing Iraqi oil. And the illegal drone strikes that our DEMOCRAT president is ordering in Pakisan, for God's sake.

I think the truth is that Nixon commited two important "crimes," which were:

1. He wasn't as pretty to photograph as Kennedy- which was the reason that Nixon "lost" the televised debates to Kennedy while winning the radio debates. (Although it is my understanding that Kennedy got huge favors from the totally corrupt political machine of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, without whose influence Kennedy might not have won the presidency.)

2. But more importantly, I think that Nixon disobeyed some kingmaker behind the scenes, and that kingmaker ordered that Nixon be crucified for a simple hotel breakin.

megalomaniac's picture
megalomaniac 10 years 19 weeks ago

The Pirates of the Caribbean now plan time to parlay.

My view, Mr. Hartmann opens a new chapter in honest journalism. This story is more than interesting about the secrets of Adelson Sands Corporation. It has substance of crime, and likely even murder because of greed, fraud, and complicity in the political arena. All which is busting out into the mainstream media like it or not.

There is no recourse for the guilty perpetrators but to lie and deceive like hell. It reminds one of an old cowboy movie as the villain suppresses or oppresses openly the common range civilian citizen. Like the movie “Open Range”. Starring Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, ending in where the citizens of the town kill the rich influence. For me hopefully this is not going to happen in America, but when having a conversation with some and finding out it is popular to start stowing food and collect material for reloading weapons on your own as in the patriot, one wonder what will happen.

This election as ugly as one may want characterize did flush out many backroom secret deals. All making the citizen not even wanting to work for a Republican. Its interesting why, for heaven’s sake Romney said, he could not have undocumented labor on his payroll. Actually all this hoopla shows how much of a super power America is not. Moreover, until many or all of this corruption in the capital can be resolved America will never have a Golden Age. Reconstruction will not occur because of obstruction of intrinsically dishonorable, greed, and self-indulgence. Especially the well establishes Watergate that is still connected. Likely even better reinforced with dark money that is tapped from the Citizens Treasury.

The rant that Obama has no leadership is laughable, when one considers the grief and strife that President Obama went through to put Health Care as a goal and turning off the wars the second primary goal in his first years is the reason I voted for him. The Obstacles have been incredible and obvious; Republicans are to blame for the depreciation in America’s credit besides crazy war expenses. Those millions of voter that did not see this vision are the ones that need the health care, the primary mental care that is blinded by hate.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 10 years 19 weeks ago

The similarity exists in the campaign tactics because it is still the old Prescott Bush-Harriman regime and their henchmen trying to control politics. They have control of the Hughes estate, Kryder, Schultz, and all the slush money of any estate they can filter through law firms as "Foundations."

For example, the Federal Reserve entered Sands Capital Management into its database the same day it entered Marathon Oil, aka Zapata Oil:

NIC 2006-07-17 SANDS CAPITAL MANAGEMENT INC. located at ARLINGTON, VA was established as a Domestic Entity Other

NIC 2006-07-17 MARATHON OIL CORPORATION located at HOUSTON, TX was established as a Domestic Entity Other.

The link here is Burger King International and KeyBank. Thomas Wakefield, Rebozo's lawyer and once head of Tampa, FL. coca cola operations, aided the laundering of Florida East Coast Railway bankruptcy assets by setting up the cash mongering Burger King Franchise through a front man who is/was business partners with my dear papa.

Unfathomable lands of the FEC Ry were leased to franchise operators through the Burger King entity, and in 1970 (Penn Central Bankruptcy), long after original stockholders of the FEC Ry had any energy left after a 40 year bankruptcy, common stockholders were forced to accept 40 cents on the dollar while all of the lands of the railroad were removed from its asset column. This includes the fabulous Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach as well as groves, coastline, and most of what was resold AFTER the Florida land boom for cents on the dollar, to the more fortunate.

The bank which handled this was primarily Barnett, now Bank of America. However, hiding behind Barnett Bank after the boom was the Harvester-DuPont Bank, Florida National, which was busy ripping up the state via the St. Joe Company and phosphate mines.

Separating the realty of the FEC RY from the actual tracks and cars was absolutely contrary to the Will of Henry Morrison Flagler which ordered that upon his death every rr car, implement, hotel, and tenement be repainted with the words "FLAGLER SYSTEM," all of which was part of the mutual investment of common stockholders. This lasted till that generation died, while the railroad was in bankruptcy.

Key Land Company was the Wakefield/Rebozo enterprise in which Nixon was embroiled.

The Key System was more or less the San Francisco sister system of the Flagler System.

BKI is a BAIN Capital operation AT THIS TIME.

KeyBank is now the depository for the Mormon Prophet who worked there 20 years until the late nineties. However, in those days the bank was known as Commercial Security.

I hope that this research of Hidden History will extend far enough back into the origins so that someday the head swallows the tail of this story I have worked on for 20 years.

From the days of the Union Pacific, every railroad bankruptcy has squirreled gold bonds and real estate away into the Harriman trust companies, far away from common stockholders and the public eye. This is how U.S. land was consolidated for centralized ownership for the seemingly sudden appearance of mega-giant retailers, littering the landscape with strip malls, suburban sprawl, and the fast-food operations everyone loves to hate.

Nobody hides as much history as the railroads wherein lies the key bank to the neverending cycle of bank failures, booms and busts. This is because railroads make bonds that outlast us for generations, they make maps which are impossible to comprehend in total, and because there is only one American railroad- that of the 37th Congress and their heirs and descendants, the UP. Our other railroad, Norfolk Southern, is owned by the Queen, courtesy of Robert Fleming, grandfather of Ian.

No progress can be made until these old obstacles and violations of our free enterprise system are understood and amended. Transportation is too powerful and controls the cost of everything, more so than oil.

nora's picture
nora 10 years 19 weeks ago

When Ann Romney repeated the word "SERVICE" again and again in that interview on The View, all of the sudden I thought she was trying to say that Mormons do service for our country when they go on their missions.

I asked myself, "Wwhy would I feel this way in response to her words?"

All I could come up with is this question: Do Mormons on "missions" abroad work for the CIA as informants or watchers or messengers or drop points or something?

I would never have thought of that question if Ann Romney had not been so ADAMANT that Mormon missionary work abroad is "SERVICE" EVERY BITequal to that of service in the navy or military.

This article makes me wonder even more. Mormons do seem to be deeply motivated in ways that bring up even more questions.

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