And over the past five years, the Adelsons have given $ 280 million to major House and Senate Republicans’ super PACs, providing more than a third of the funding for the Congressional Leadership Fund and nearly a quarter of the total. Senate Leadership Fund during this period, according to a POLITICO review of FEC data. Their total federal donations over the past decade have exceeded half a billion dollars.
“Sheldon Adelson was the GOP megadonor of GOP megadoners,” said Ken Spain, a former spokesperson for the Republican National Committee of Congress. “He’s been a deciding factor for dozens if not hundreds of races over the past decade. In a world where Democrats can count on small donations of up to tens of millions of dollars, the loss of a major donor of Adelson’s stature is going to be felt.
Several senior Republicans predicted that Miriam would continue to substantially donate the family to the GOP. “But it remains to be seen whether or not this will continue at the astronomical level to which Republicans are now accustomed,” Spain said.
Miriam, 75, was intimately involved in her husband’s political donations, and the couple usually cut identical-sized checks at the same time when donating to GOP groups. For many candidates and party organizations, winning the support of the Adelsons was seen as necessary for their survival.
Its seal of financial approval – loaned to dozens of Republican groups over its decades as a contributor – signaled a group’s credibility to the rest of the donor class. A senior Republican involved in outside spending said Adelson was a “North Star” to donors, who “would always look to see if he was involved in a project to measure its value or importance to the party.”
A few Republicans, however, have warned that Adelson has become “a crutch” for the party, which has become dependent on megadonors to fuel its political machine. In contrast, Democrats built a more muscular digital fundraising machine, leveraging anti-Trump energy to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, which often surpassed the efforts of Republican megadoners.
In mid-2020, for example, the Adelsons increased their contribution to the Senate Leadership Fund, the Senate GOP’s main super PAC, to $ 50 million for the year. But the top nine Democratic Senate candidates combined to collect even more than that online in August. (The Adelsons then increased their contributions to the SLF to $ 70 million for the 2020 election.)
A chorus of Republican officials mourned Adelson’s death on Tuesday. In statements, the president of the Congressional Leadership Fund, Norm Coleman, called Adelson a “giant” and “visionary in every field”, and Steven Law, CEO of the Senate Leadership Fund, presented Adelson as the “living testimony and breathing in the power of the American dream ”, who was“ far more interested in doing good than seeking recognition ”.
Adelson, the son of a taxi driver, traveled through the hospitality and gambling world, primarily in Nevada, to build one of the world’s largest casino and resort hotel empires. In 2020, Bloomberg valued Adelson’s wealth at $ 33.4 billion. He started donating to Republican causes in the 1990s, but his political power exploded after the 2010 Supreme Court. United citizens decision which relaxed the limits of external political spending.
In the 2008 election, Adelson was a major donor to Freedom’s Watch, an organization that supported Republican candidates for Congress. During the 2012 presidential race, he and his wife donated over $ 20 million to a super PAC that supported former House Speaker Newt Gingrich before pivoting to donate $ 30 million to the super PAC. backing Mitt Romney after getting the nomination.
In 2016, the Adelsons paid tens of millions of dollars to a pro-Trump super PAC. The couple were rewarded for their support with podium seats for Trump’s inauguration, and Trump then awarded doctor Miriam the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In the 2020 election, Trump’s advisers viewed Adelson’s largesse as critical to the president’s re-election prospects. But as the race entered its home stretch, there was a problem: Trump had upset Adelson in a heated phone call in the summer, forcing the mogul to delay his planned donation to the president. The Adelsons would finally pull the trigger around Labor Day, donating $ 90 million to a newly formed super PAC, Preserve America, which attacked Democrat Joe Biden.
Unlike many large donors motivated by a wide range of interests, Adelson was largely motivated by one concern: Israel. The 87-year-old tycoon has helped fund organizations such as the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Zionist Organization of America. He was a strong supporter of Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and a major supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party.
The RJC held its annual conference each year at Adelson’s Venetian Resort, a gathering that regularly attracted party heavyweights ranging from Texas Senator Ted Cruz to South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham to Vice President Mike Pence.
“His advocacy for the State of Israel and Jewish causes was second to none and made a difference in countless lives both at home and abroad,” said former Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid of the Nevada in a statement released Tuesday.