On January 12th local time, Sheldon Adelson, founder, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Group and American casino tycoon, died of illness at the age of 87.
Adelson is a prominent Republican funder and a close friend of current President Donald Trump of the United States. The New York Times commented that Adelson used his huge wealth to help Republicans control the House and Senate and ultimately the White House, thus breaking the balance of power in Washington over the past decade.
And his death has deprived the Republican Party of its largest individual donor and added uncertainty to the party’s political fate in the coming years.
The political funder of “kingmaker”
According to the Financial Times, The New York Times and other media on January 13, Adelson was born in Boston, the United States, to Ukrainian and Lithuanian Jewish parents. He started selling newspapers and founded the Comdex Computer Trade Show in the 1970s, earning his first bucket of gold and providing him with the capital to buy the Venetian Casino in Las Vegas. Eventually, Adelson established his own casino and hotel empire, expanding its business from the United States to Singapore and Macao, China.
Forbes estimates that Adelson has about 35 billion US dollars (about 226.6 billion yuan), which also makes him a political funder and a generous philanthropist who can “build kings”.
Using his vast fortunes, Adelson exerted social and political influence on issues such as Jewish affairs and combating opioid addiction, acquired local newspapers in Nevada and Israel, and made extensive friends with leaders around the world.
The Las Vegas Review, acquired by Adelson in 2015, was reported to be the first big newspaper to publicly announce its support for Trump. In the 2016 U.S. election, Adelson and his wife donated $80 million to the Republican Party and $35 million to Trump alone to help him run. Not only that, the Adelsons also donated $5 million to Trump’s inauguration.
Because of his very close interest relationship with Trump, Trump’s award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Adelson’s wife Miriam Adelson in November 2018 was also controversial for a while.
Trump issued a statement on Adelson’s death on January 12, saying: “The world has lost a great man. His wisdom, talent and creativity have won him great wealth, but what made him famous is his character and his generosity to charity.
Adelson is also very concerned about Israeli affairs. According to the Financial Times, he once put pressure on Trump on the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and finally succeeded in promoting the incident.
Miriam Adelson was born in Israel, and she and Adelson played an important role in supporting the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
According to previous reports, Adelson has a strong pro-Israeli position on the Palestinian-Israeli issue. Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a Republican, said in 2012 that unconditional support for Israel is Adelson’s “central value”. The Canadian-based research institute Center for Globalization Research (CRG) reported that when the White House did not support Netanyahu or Adelson’s proposal quickly enough, Adelson quickly expressed his displeasure.
The Adelsons also founded Israel Hayom, a free daily newspaper in 2007. The newspaper is also known as “Bibiton” (ed. It means “Netanyahu”, a compound of Netanyahu’s nickname “Bibi” and the Hebrew newspaper “iton”. The New York Times commented that the newspaper had so many favorable reports on Netanyahu, as if Netanyahu had written it himself.
After Adelson’s death, Netanyahu expressed his grief over the death of the most generous political patron. He also affectionately called Adelson “red hair”.
“Sheldon was one of the biggest contributors in history to Jews, Zionism, [Jewish] settlements, and the State of Israel.” Netanyahu said.
Fight against the future financing plan of the Republican Party
The violent impact of Trump supporters on the Capitol on January 6 exposed Trump himself and the Republican Party to a huge crisis and affected his political donations. Several major companies, including hotel chain Marriott and the Health Insurance Association Blue Cross Blue Shield, announced that they would suspend donations to members of Congress who supported Trump’s overthrow of the election.
The New York Times notes that although Adelson’s wife is likely to continue her political donations, Adelson’s death remains crucial to the Republican Party, because few of the Republican donors can match Adelson’s influence. Only a few billionaires are comparable to their influence, such as the Koch brothers, an oil tycoon who invested nearly $250 million in the 2016 presidential election.
Federal records show that since 2010, the Adelsons have donated more than $500 million to the Republican campaign and the Super PAC, a political fund-raising organization, which has received no limit on the number of donations.
2020 was the most donated year for the Adelsons, with a total of about $217 million, the largest of which was $90 million to a super PAC that supported Trump’s re-election. In addition, they donated $70 million to the Senate Leadership Foundation to maintain Republican control of the Senate and $50 million to the House Republican Party’s main super political action committee.
According to the report, Adelson’s death may make it difficult for the Republican Party to regain control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections. Previously, the results of the Georgia Senate runoff were officially confirmed, and after Biden and Harris took office, the Republican Party will become the minority in both houses of Congress and the House of Representatives.
Scott Reed, a senior Republican strategist, told the New York Times that some of the strong opposition from some businesses, as well as Adelson’s death, left a “real gap” for the Republican fundraising plan for 2022.
“What some Republicans are really worried about is that the Adelsons have so unique influence within the Republican Party that no one can replace them,” Read added.
“The next generation of Adelson-style donors does not exist.” Reed said.