Sheldon Adelson, the multi-billionaire casino mogul behind the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and the eighth wealthiest person in America with a net worth of $21.5 billion, according to the Forbes 400, has made two $5 million donations to a political action committee (PAC) backing Newt Gingrich. The super PAC Winning Our Future is run by the former House speaker’s aide Rick Tyler.
Campaign finance experts told The Huffington Post that Sheldon’s $10 million contribution is among the largest known political donations in the history of the United States.
Adelson donated the first $5 million at a critical point for Gingrich, who was entering the South Carolina Republican primary after finishing fifth in New Hampshire. Gingrich won South Carolina with 40.4 percent of the vote. Adelson’s money to Winning Our Future helped finance the 28-minute video with American LP that used Mitt Romney’s tenure as founder, investor and chief executive officer at Bain Capital as ammunition against his GOP rival and former Massachusetts governonr, accusing him of being a “predatory vulture capitalist” while at the helm of the private equity firm. The ad details how Bain plunged numerous companies into debt or bankruptcy, purging hundreds of employees of their jobs, while taking out millions in fees.
The second $5 million contribution helped cover the costs of another anti-Romney ad by the super PAC to air in Florida leading up to the state’s Republican primary January 31. The advertisement rails against Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan, comparing it to the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act. The ad alleges Romney “invented government-run health care,” and features video clips of him referring to himself as a “moderate Republican” with “progressive” views, reported TampayBayOnline.com.
Whether the hefty contributions will influence Gingrich’s political decisions should he take office remains up for debate. Fred Wertheimer, president of the campaign finance watchdog group Democracy 21, said that when any candidate is indebted to a single donor for so much money, “it opens the door to corruption and influence peddling,” reported ABC.
But Card Player spoke with Dr. Kenneth Fernandez, a professor of political science at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, who said Adelson’s donations are unlikely to “have any real influence” on Gingrich’s policy decisions should he get the presidential nomination due to heavy scrutiny on presidential candidates.
Adelson, who built the iconic Venetian hotel and its sister resort in Macao, and an ardent supporter of Jewish causes, strongly promotes legalized gambling. But the son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants opposes online gaming, because he believes underage gambling can’t be prevented. Nevada is currently working on internal controls to address age verification strategies, reported Card Player.
Adelson is no stranger to supporting conservatives with a hand in gaming. For instance, he has made donations to Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, who supported the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, reported Card Player.
Nonetheless, Adelson reportedly doesn’t expect anything in return from Gingrich. “Sheldon doesn’t need anything from anybody,” said George Harris, a Las Vegas restaurant owner and former political consultant who worked for Adelson for years and ate lunch with him daily, reported ABC.