Billionaire casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson seems to be signaling his intention to plow millions more into conservative groups to influence this year’s elections, in addition to $10 million he and his wife gave a super PAC backing Newt Gingrich. For the first time, Adelson, who is worth an estimated $21.5 billion, and his Israeli born physician wife Miriam attended a mega donor conference sponsored by the billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch.
The recent gathering, a twice-a-year event that began about eight years ago, was held in late January at a resort in Palm Springs. It typically draws deep pocketed givers, a few members of Congress and conservative leaders eagerly seeking big checks for their pet projects. Fundraisers say that this year’s winter event included an appearance by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who has been a guest at other Koch events. Neither Cantor’s office nor Adelson’s press shop, responded to requests for comment.
Fundraisers familiar with Koch spending plans for this year say that the brothers and their large network of allied donors could pump as much as $200 million into electoral drives run by outside groups to help Republicans win the Senate and the White House and keep control of the House.
The Adelsons are weighing financial help to some groups that had a presence at the Koch conference but it’s unclear which ones are at the top of his prospect list, say fundraisers. Probably the most influential group that’s been at recent conferences has been Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots lobbying and political advocacy powerhouse that was started by the Koch Brothers in 2004.
Adelson has recently indicated strong interest in backing other GOP allied groups, say fundraisers familiar with his giving. In 2010, Adelson wrote a seven figure check to Crossroads GPS, a non-profit advocacy group that doesn’t have to disclose its donors publicly which was co-founded by GOP super consultants Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie.
The GPS group and an affiliated super PAC American Crossroads together raised $71 million in 2010 and were instrumental in the Republicans taking back the House that year. This election year, the two groups are aiming to raise as much as $300 million and are slated to spend about half of their funds to help the GOP nominee take the White House and the rest to boost GOP Congressional candidates.
Fundraisers familiar with Adelson and the two Crossroads groups say he’s likely to pump a few million dollars more into one of them this year to help whoever wins the GOP nomination take the White House.
Further, fundraisers say that Adelson is also considering writing a check to the American Action Network, another non-profit that doesn’t have to disclose its donors that’s chaired by former Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota. Coleman has said that his group will focus heavily on keeping the House Republican.
Prior to the Gingrich super PAC largess, Adelson also gave $7.7 million to a Gingrich political group, American Solutions for Winning the Future, over a five year period. Those funds were helpful in keeping Gingrich’s political fortunes alive before his campaign this year.
With Gingrich’s double digit loss Tuesday in the Florida primaries, it’s unclear whether the Adelsons will pump more funds into the pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future to help their friend and political ally stay competitive. Adelson and Gingrich, going back to the mid 1990’s, have forged close ties over their shared commitment to Israeli security and their opposition to a two state solution to settle the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Gingrich flew into Nevada today to campaign before that state holds a caucus vote this weekend. The Gingrich super PAC will be advertising in Nevada, according to Rick Tyler a senior advisor to the group and a former spokesman for Gingrich’s campaign.
After it received $5 million from Sheldon Adelson last month the super PAC ran close to $3 million in negative ads against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in South Carolina and was a key factor in Gingrich’s come from behind double digit win in that state.
The Adelsons’ $10 million donation to Winning Our Future is the largest single donation known since court rulings in 2010 gave the go ahead to corporations, individuals and unions giving unlimited sums to groups that are advocating directly for the election or defeat of candidates.
Help support this work
Public Integrity doesn’t have paywalls and doesn’t accept advertising so that our investigative reporting can have the widest possible impact on addressing inequality in the U.S. Our work is possible thanks to support from people like you.