Ron Reese has to get used to the idea of calling his longtime friend and former employer, “Mr. Speaker.”
Reese, vice president of communications for Las Vegas Sands Corp., said he would simply refer to House Speaker-in-waiting, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, by his last name.
Come January, formality will replace familiarity. Boehner moves into a position that leaves him third in line in presidential succession.
Reese was a senior adviser to Boehner in 2001 and 2002 when the Republican congressman chaired the committee that passed the No Child Left Behind Act. Reese’s wife, Brenda, worked for Boehner from 1995 through 1998 as a conference coordinator for the Republican Caucus.
Naturally, Reese is happy with Boehner’s new status on Capitol Hill, which could be beneficial to gaming.
“He has a common sense approach to regulation and he is a free enterprise guy,” Reese said. “Those are positives for the industry.”
The new House leadership may increase Las Vegas Sands’ profile in Washington D.C. The casino company is the Strip operator most closely aligned with the Republican Party.
Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson has given millions of dollars to Republican political causes over the years.
In this election cycle, Adelson donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association and $500,000 to American Solutions for Winning the Future, a 527 corporation led by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who held a rally in Las Vegas on Oct. 22 in support of failed Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle.
Adelson also gave $60,800 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which contributed $10,000 to Angle.
Reese introduced his old boss to his current boss in 2000, when Adelson and his executive team paid a visit to Washington D.C. Adelson is also close to Virginia Republican Rep. Eric Cantor, who is expected to become House Majority Leader.
“Unequivocally, we have a better position with the new House leadership than anybody in the industry,” Reese said.
What the relationships all mean are yet to be determined. Unlike the bulk of the gaming industry, Adelson and Las Vegas Sands didn’t support the re-election of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But the casino company didn’t outwardly campaign and finance the Tea Party-backed Angle.
Reese, who joined Las Vegas Sands in 2003, said Boehner, who represents the northern suburbs of Cincinnati, has a pragmatic approach when it comes to creating jobs and helping businesses.
“He’s a good listener,” Reese said. “His goal is to bring the House together.”
Howard Stutz’s Inside Gaming column appears Sundays. He can be reached at email@example.com or 702-477-3871. He blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/stutz.