Sheldon Adelson is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp. He is a drop-out from City College of New York, and yet, he has amassed a fortune purported to be over $20 billion ranking him #14 on the Forbes billionaires list.
Mr. Adelson 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.” In these regards, this self-made billionaire has already spent millions supporting those who view America and Israel the way he does.
“Political influence is currently a bargain,” a Forbes article recently asserted. The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United determined that political spending is free speech. There are no longer limits to how much individuals and corporations can give to PACs, which then can support politician campaigns. The political arms race began in earnest in 1996 when Bill Clinton spent $153 million (adjusted for inflation), George Bush $440 million in 2004 and Barack Obama $774 million in 2008. Compared to the net worths of Adelson ($24.6 billion) and George Soros ($22 billion), who have served as angels to so many politicians in recent years, the candidates’ expenditures are trivial.
Back to Adelson. The man has contributed extensively to political campaigns dating back to 2005, according to an informative Wikipedia story. At that time, Adelson gave $250,000 to the inauguration of George Bush (there were no limits on contributions for victory parties of successful candidates). In 2008, he was the principal backer of Freedom’s Watch and contributed most of the $30 million it spent on political advocacy. In 2010, $1 million was given to a Gingrich PAC. In 2012, $10 million went to Gingrich’s Winning Our Future. In 2012, $2.5 million was donated to the right-leaning Congressional Leadership Fund. The money that went to support Gingrich turned the Republican primaries upside down. Many people questioned whether one man should have this much power over an entire political party and the process to select candidates.
In the meantime, Adelson was throwing a ton of cash at non-political projects that included $25 million for a Las Vegas high school, $25 million to the Israeli Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and $100 million to Birthright Israel (to pay for Jewish youth to visit Israel).
Adelson certainly backed his political and personal philosophies with his money.
But now the stakes are increasing. Originally, Adelson got involved in politics to offset the liberal efforts of George Soros; he has publicly stated this was the case. Today, he is concerned about the ultimate effect Barack Obama will have on the country. He has already given Mitt Romney $10 million and “may well give [Romney] $100 million.” The influence that such a contribution will afford Adelson is mind-boggling. For instance, one could speculate that the U.S. government’s relationship with Israel under a Romney administration would be markedly different than under Obama.
Using Las Vegas Sands Corp. as his source of funding, Adelson is making a huge impact on the way politics are being conducted in this country. As an aside, Adelson’s company has a market capitalization of nearly $35 billion, revenues of $10 billion and net profits of $1.5 billion. His ability to single-handedly conduct a presidential campaign is undeniable, as is his determination. But at what cost to our democracy? That is the big question.