Sheldon Adelson

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Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Gray Adelson is ranked #6 of the world's billionaires in 2007, with an estimated net worth in excess of $26.5 billion.[1] In 2006, Adelson ranked #3 in the Forbes 400 richest Americans, with an estimated net worth in excess of $20.5 billion.[2]. In the 2011-2012 Election Cycle, Adelson donated at least $70 million to conservative groups dedicated to influencing the presidential and congressional election, making him the largest single political donor in US history. [3]

Influencing the 2011-2012 Election Cycle

Adelson spent about $20 million supporting the failed presidential campaign of Newt Gingrich, including at least $10 million to his PAC "Winning our Future". Adelson's contributions helped Gingrich win the crucial South Carolina Republican Primary. [4] Adelson has given $20 million to Restore Our Future, the SuperPAC supporting the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney. The Romney campaign's dependence on Adelson's contributions drew criticism from fellow Republicans, including John McCain, who told the PBS Newshour: "Much of Mr. Adelson's casino profits that go to him come from his casino in Macau, which says that obviously, maybe in a roundabout way foreign money is coming into an American political campaign," [5] Adelson's contributions to "outside groups" include $10 million to Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, $10 million to assorted Koch-funded groups like Americans for Prosperity, and $5 million to Eric Cantor's "Young Guns Network". [6]

Of the $70 million that Adelson spent influencing the 2012 election cycle, $20 to $30 million went to 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) groups that do not have to disclose their donors. [7]

2012 Investigation by US Justice Department

Since early 2012, Adelson has been the subject of a Justice Department investigation inquiring into activities at Adelson-controlled casinos in Macau, a special administrative region of China, west of Hong Kong. Adelson is suspected of violating sections of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (which prohibits the bribing of foreign officials) while dealing with the Chinese government. [8]

Emails leaked by ex-company employees prompted the investigation, Adelson allegedly instructed a top executive to make a $700,000 payment to Leonel Alves, a Macau legislator, to help resolve two issues: a lawsuit by a Taiwanese businessman and permission to sell luxury apartments in Macau. [9] Adelson instructed executives at the Macau casino to pay the official despite warnings from his general counsel that the payment could violate of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. [10] The Chinese government has fined Adelson's company $1.6 million for regulations violations [11]

Adelson's casino empire is also under investigation for possibly violating federal money-laundering laws, by accepting millions from high-rolling gamblers accused of drug trafficking and embezzlement. The company did not report the receipt of hundreds of millions of dollars from gamblers accused of drug-dealing and embezzlement [12] [13]

Prior Political contributions

According to the Newsmeat Hall of Fame of political contributors, between 1984 and June 2007, Adelson has contributed nearly a million dollars, $791,563 to Republican candidates, $165,069 to Democratic candidates, and $37,000 to special interests.[14]

In the 2008 election cycle, Adelson contributed $28,500 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, $4,600 each to Nevada Republican candidates Rep. Jon Porter and Rep. Dean Heller; $4,600 to Virginia Republican Rep. Eric Cantor; and $2,300 to North Carolina Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx.[14]

In 2006, shortly after the November elections, Adelson gave $1 million to Republican Newt Gingrich's 527 committee, American Solutions for Winning the Future, a group which Gingrich formed earlier that year. [15]

Adelson was one of several prominent conservatives and board members of the Republican Jewish Coalition funding Freedom's Watch, a pro-Bush White House front group[16] which on August 22, 2007, began "a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to urge members of Congress who may be wavering in their support for the war in Iraq not to 'cut and run'."[17]

Freedom Watch's ad buys target both Porter and Heller in Nevada—to the tune of $202,110.[18]

Adelson spent at least $30 million on political activities in the 2008 election cycle.[19]

A Boston native, Adelson is the CEO of Las Vegas Sands.[20] On August 17, 2007, the Associated Press reported that William P. Weidner, President/COO/Director of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, a Las Vegas, Nevada, resort and casino and another Freedom's Watch supporter, said that Adelson, who "keeps a home in Massachusetts and pays taxes in the state," had been lobbying local officials "to legalize casino gambling" in Massachusetts.[20]


"He's the third richest person in the U.S., worth $20.5 billion, with a rags-to-riches story: the son of a Boston cabdriver, Adelson inaugurated the Comdex computer trade show, and then went into tourism, real estate, and casinos. He is CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which operates the Venetian Casino Resort and the Sands Expo and Convention Center. Adelson is a major contributor to Jewish and Israeli causes,[21] and to the GOP.[22] This series of ads isn't his only propagandistic foray: the Vegas casino king has also gone into the newspaper business – in Israel.[23] Yisrael Hayom is a new daily paper closely tied to the ultra-nationalist wing of the Likud party, and Benjamin Netanyahu's political aspirations.[24] It was recently launched with a massive free mailing to hundreds of thousands, and has attracted considerable attention," Justin Raimondo wrote August 24, 2007, at[25]


Adelson's 2007 Forbes profile[1] describes him as follows: "Son of a Boston cabdriver borrowed $200 from his uncle to sell newspapers at age 12. Made first fortune in trade shows. Created computer industry's premier show, Comdex, mid-1980s; ran 70% profit margin renting space for 15 cents a square foot and leasing it to exhibitors for up to $40 a square foot. Sold show to Japan's SoftBank for $862 million in 1995. Then Las Vegas: bought old Sands casino for $128 million, demolished it to build the $1.5 billion all-suites Venetian casino resort and the 1.2-million-square foot Sands Convention Center. Changed the way Vegas does business by enticing conventioneers to Sin City midweek, taking emphasis off gambling. Sold suites for $250 a night, added high-end retailers, celebrity-chef restaurants. Old guard mocked him: 'I loved being the outsider. I didn't care what those guys said.' Took Las Vegas Sands public December 2004. Building $1.8 billion Palazzo resort adjacent to arch-rival Steve Wynn's Wynn Las Vegas. Big bet on Asia: opened $265 million Sands Macau casino May 2004, recouped entire investment in one year. Ramping up construction on Cotai Strip: $6 billion project will place 7 hotel-casinos on Macau's 2 islands, Taipa and Coloane. Cornerstone of project will be $1.8 billion Venetian Macau. Last May won coveted Singapore gaming license. Plans to build $3.5 billion Marina Bay Sands on 51-acre site with a view of the city's skyline."

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External resources

External articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 "The World's Billionaires: Sheldon Adelson", Forbes, March 8, 2007.
  2. "The Richest 400 Americans: #3 Sheldon Adelson", Forbes, September 21, 2006
  3. Mike Allen: Sheldon Adelson: Inside the Mind of the Mega-Donor, Politico, September 23rd, 2012
  4. Nicholas Confessore: Super PAC for Gingrich to get $5 million infusion, New York Times, January 23rd, 2012
  5. Josh Rogin: Adelson Funding Romney SuperPAC with "Foreign Money", Foreign Policy Wire, June 15th, 2012
  6. Peter H. Stone: Sheldon Adelson to Lavish $71 million in Casino Money on GOP SuperPACs, Nonprofits, Huffington Post, June 16th, 2012
  7. Mike Allen: Sheldon Adelson: Inside the Mind of the Mega-Donor, Politico, September 23rd, 2012
  8. Laura Stiegerwald: GOP Mega Donor Investigated for Bribing Chinese Government Officials, PRwatch, July 20th, 2012
  9. Macau Daily Times: Alves allegedly received USD 700,000 for facilitating USD 300m bribe related to Sands, July 18th, 2012
  10. Propublica: Emails on Alves Employment and Payment, Accessed September 24th, 2012
  11. Michael Luo: Sheldon Adelson's Dealings in China are Under Investigation, New York Times, August 13th, 2012
  12. New York Times Editorial: In Thrall to Sheldon Adelson, Published August 16th, 2012
  13. Wall Street Journal: Las Vegas Sands under Investigation in Money Move, posted August 7th, 2012
  14. 14.0 14.1 Hall of Fame: Billionaires: Sheldon Adelson, Newsmeat
  15. Bill Berkowitz, "Newt Gingrich says if supporters pledge $30 million he'll enter presidential race", Media Transparency, September 29, 2007.
  16. "Adelson runs attack ads against Porter," Las Vegas Gleaner, August 22, 2007.
  17. "Group to Urge War Support," New York Times, August 22, 2007.
  18. Tom Matzzie, "An open thank you letter to Ari Fleischer," AMERICAblog, August 22, 2007.
  19. Thomas B. Edsall, "Sheldon Adelson: GOP's Answer To George Soros?" Huffington Post, July 25, 2008.
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Billionaire Adelson lobbying for Massachusetts casino," Associated Press ( Boston), August 17, 2007.
  21. Tamar Morad, "Sheldon Adelson pledges annual $200 million to Jewish, Israeli causes," Haaretz, December 9, 2006.
  22. Zach Edwards, "Does Sheldon Adelson have more than one puppet?" Mister Apologist Blogspot, March 14, 2007.
  23. Alan D. Abbey, "Vegas Casino King Makes Bid For Israeli Media Moguldom," The Jewish Daily Forward, August 15, 2007.
  24. Arnaud de Borchgrave, ed., "Analysis: Never again?" UPI, January 2, 2007.
  25. Justin Raimondo, "Home Front 'Surge'. War Party's ad campaign will boomerang,", August 24, 2007.