Forbes has confirmed that billionaire Sheldon Adelson, along with his wife Miriam, has donated $10 million to the leading Super PAC supporting presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney–and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A well-placed source in the Adelson camp with direct knowledge of the casino billionaire’s thinking says that further donations will be “limitless.”
Adelson, who has built Las Vegas Sands into an global casino empire, will do “whatever it takes” to defeat Obama, this source says. And given that Adelson is worth $24.9 billion–and told Forbes in a recent rare interview about his political giving that he had been willing to donate as much as $100 million to his initial presidential preference, Newt Gingrich–that “limitless” description telegraphs potential nine-digit support of Romney.
Adelson, this source continues, believes that “no price is too high” to protect the U.S. from what he sees as Obama’s “socialization” of America, as well as securing the safety of Israel. He added that Adelson, 78, considers this to be the most important election of his lifetime.
In an interview with me in February, Adelson said that he’d likely shift his financial support to the Republican front-runner if Gingrich dropped out of the race–which he did in May. Now Romney is positioned to reap Adelson’s largess. Thanks to the Citizens United decision, there are no curbs on how much Adelson could give the pro-Romney Super PAC, Restoring Our Future. Given that he’s one of the 15 richest people in the world, the Sands chairman could personally bankroll the equivalent of entire presidential campaign–say, $1 billion or so–and not even notice. (The $10 million donation he just made to Romney is equivalent to $40 for an American family with a net worth of $100,000.)
Adelson, ironically, has made more money during the Obama administration than just about any other American, based on Forbes tabulations. He had previously told me that just because he made money under Obama, it doesn’t mean he thinks the president is doing the right thing.
Does Adelson feel guilty about one American potentially steering the fate of the presidential election? “I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections,” Adelson told me in February. “But as long as it’s doable I’m going to do it. Because I know that guys like Soros have been doing it for years, if not decades. And they stay below the radar by creating a network of corporations to funnel their money. I have my own philosophy and I’m not ashamed of it.”
Adelson is an Israel hawk who has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Jewish causes. He also is also fiercely fighting against what he sees as Obama’s socialization of America. As he explained to me this winter:
“What scares me is the continuation of the socialist-style economy we’ve been experiencing for almost four years. That scares me because the redistribution of wealth is the path to more socialism, and to more of the government controlling people’s lives. What scares me is the lack of accountability that people would prefer to experience, just let the government take care of everything and I’ll go fish or I won’t work, etc. U.S. domestic politics is very important to me because I see that the things that made this country great are now being relegated into duplicating that which is making other countries less great. … I’m afraid of the trend where more and more people have the tendency to want to be given instead of wanting to give. People are less willing to share. There are fewer philanthropists being grown and there are greater expectations of the government. I believe that people will come to their senses and not extend the current Administration’s quest to socialize this country. It won’t be a socialist democracy because it won’t be a democracy.”
If Romney gets tough on Israel’s defense and continues to repeat his small government, free market message, he could find that the war chest backing his efforts is, well, limitless. It will be interesting to see how Obama’s billionaire backers –who have so far been reticent to match GOP efforts–will respond.