Casino billionaire’s total contributions on behalf of Israel in 2016 & 2018 reported to surpass $100 million, possibly making him the largest single donor in American politics today
By Amir Tibon, reposted from Ha’aretz
WASHINGTON – Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson is reportedly spending at least $55 million during the upcoming midterm elections in order to keep Republicans in control of Congress. Adelson’s spending commitment was first reported on Saturday by the New York Times, in an article describing how Adelson has become the most influential donor in the Republican Party during U.S. President Donald Trump’s time in office.
According to the report, Adelson’s total spending on behalf of the Republicans in the 2016 and 2018 election combined, will surpass $100 million, probably making him the largest single donor in American politics today. Adelson had previously spent tens of millions of dollars during the 2012 election in a failed attempt to help Mitt Romney, that year’s Republican nominee, oust Barack Obama from the White House.
[Editor’s note: Adelson has said he regrets that he served in the U.S. army rather than in the Israeli army – video below.]
Adelson, according to the NYT report, has enjoyed a “direct line to the President” since Trump entered the White House. The report also stated that Adelson “has used his access to push the president to move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and, more recently, cut aid to the Palestinians.” Adelson and Trump speak at least once a month, the report said.
During the Republican primaries in 2015, Trump mocked one his rivals, Senator Marco Rubio, for being a “puppet” of Adelson, who at the time was rumored to prefer the Floridian legislator over Trump. Back then, Trump wrote on his Twitter account that “Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!”
Yet in the final months of the 2016 election, after Trump had secured the Republican nomination and was trailing in the polls to Hillary Clinton, Adelson’s support was critical for Trump. The NYT report stated that Trump “badly needed” Adelson’s money because “many of the [Republican] party’s other major donors had shunned him.”
Adelson owns the Israeli free newspaper “Israel Hayom,” which Israel’s Defense Minister and Education Minister have both publicly compared to “Pravda”, the famous Soviet newspaper that was a mouthpiece for the Communist party. The comparison was made because of how “Israel Hayom” is seen by many Israelis as a mouthpiece for Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Last year, Netanyahu’s office was forced by the Israeli Supreme Court to provide details about the Prime Minister’s frequent communications with the top editors of the newspaper.
Adelson is a supporter of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In 2014, during a discussion on whether the settlements endanger Israeli democracy, Adelson said – “I don’t think the Bible says anything about democracy … God talked about all the good things in life. … He didn’t talk about Israel remaining as a democratic state. Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state — so what?” Adelson later claimed the remark was sarcastic.
The New York Times reports:
“In private in-person meetings and phone conversations, which occur between the two men about once a month, [Trump] has used his access to push the president to move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and, more recently, cut aid to the Palestinians, according to people familiar with their discussions, who spoke anonymously to discuss private matters.
“Republican control of the House and the Senate is so vital to maintaining these policies, the Adelsons believe, that they have given $55 million in the last few months to groups dedicated to making sure it stays that way.”
The Times also states: ”
“The Adelsons’ growing influence comes as other Republican megadonors — Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists; Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, two of Mr. Trump’s most influential supporters; Foster Friess, a major benefactor to conservative causes; and Dick and Liz Uihlein, the Midwestern couple who have written big checks to anti-establishment candidates — have scaled back their spending or placed bad bets on losing campaigns.
“So far this year the Adelsons have steered their money to two groups with proven track records of defending Republican seats — the Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC allied with Speaker Paul D. Ryan, and the Senate Leadership Fund, which has close ties to Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader. Though they are known to probe prospective recipients about their plans up front, they do not tend to meddle in strategy after the fact or demand that their money be steered toward certain states or races, people who have worked with them said.”
“They have yet to give to Mr. Trump’s re-election efforts, however, reasoning that for now their money is better spent on maintaining Republican control of Congress.
“Representatives from America First Policies, the super PAC that is acting as the main vehicle for Mr. Trump’s 2020 effort, recently visited Mr. Adelson in Las Vegas to make a pitch for financial support, according to several people who had been briefed on the meeting. One of these people said Mr. Adelson told associates afterward that he was not convinced of their strategic plan, saying it was too vague and unformed, but has not ruled out donating in the future.”
According to the Times, Adelson and his wife “were seated in the front row for the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Jerusalem in May. That day, Ms. Adelson, who is Israeli, described Mr. Trump as “the Truman of our time” in an extraordinary front-page editorial in the newspaper she and her husband own, the Las Vegas Review Journal.
“Mr. Adelson plays an outsize, if largely behind-the-scenes, role in Israel. Long a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he began financing a free, right-leaning tabloid newspaper, Israel Hayom, in 2007 that many Israelis consider a mouthpiece for Mr. Netanyahu. It has since become the largest-circulation Hebrew newspaper.
“Longtime supporters of Jewish settlement projects in the West Bank, the Adelsons have also pledged millions of dollars for the expansion of Ariel University, in the heart of the occupied territory, including a medical school that will be named for the couple.”