Sheldon Adelson‘s entire family once slept all in one room. He used to contribute mainly to Democrats.But this year, Adelson has become a megadonor to the Republican Party in a furious one-man quest to oust President Barack Obama from the White House.
Romney’s new running mate, Paul Ryan, is scheduled to meet with Adelson on Tuesday in Las Vegas.
At 78, Adelson is taking advantage of his ability to contribute an unlimited amount of money to so-called “super PACs,” which don’t directly affiliate with candidates or parties.
He’s also become a somewhat controversial figure in the race, most recently for a scandal in Macau involving a “frontman” on several of Adelson’s largest projects.
Primarily, Adelson is using his money and growing influence to advocate for a free Jewish state in Israel, something he staunchly supports. The casino mogul even popped up in Israel a couple weekends ago to aid the candidacy of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who he has pledged to support with a possibly “unlimited” amount of money.
Outside of the Romney campaign, Adelson has spent upwards of $20 million in donations to Republican candidates this election cycle, and almost single-handedly bankrolled Newt Gingrich’s rollercoaster primary campaign. CBS pegs him as the biggest super PAC donor of this election cycle.
Adelson mostly avoids the media spotlight, but his rags-to-riches tale reveals some of the reasons as to why he made huge ideological and personal changes through his life.
Adelson went on to buy the historic Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, adding a convention centre for the thriving Comdex. Adelson later cashed in on Comdex for $862 million, using the profits to tear down the hotel and rebuild a lavish, Venice-inspired complex.
Source: The New York Times
Since the Sands Macau, located in Macau Peninsula, Macau, opened its doors, Adelson's personal wealth has 'multiplied more than fourteen times,' and 'earning roughly a million dollars an hour' after the company went public, The New Yorker reported.
Source: The New Yorker
Adelson has been married twice, divorcing his first wife, Susan, in the 1980s. He had adopted Susan's three children, two boys and a girl.
He was introduced to his current wife, Dr. Miriam Ochschorn, a divorced doctor from Israel who was working in New York, by a mutual friend. The couple married in 1991.
But much about Adelson's personal life remains under wraps.
Adelson has had somewhat of a rough patch with his adopted sons. In 1997, two of Adelson's sons, Mitchell and Gary, sued their father. They alleged that Adelson cheated them out of money by encouraging them to sell their shares of his company without providing full information. They lost the case.
Mitchell and Gary both suffered from drug addiction. In 2005, Mitchell, who was married with three children, died unexpectedly when he was 48, reportedly of a drug overdose.
Source: The New Yorker
Adelson gives to the powerful Jewish lobby American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, and the Zionist organisation of America. This year, Adelson pledged an additional $13 million to Taglit-Birthright Israel, an organisation that sends young Jews to Israel.
Reportedly, Adelson's stance on Israel became more conservative under the influence of his second wife.
Much of his personal stake in politics comes from a strong opposition to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He even appealed to President George W. Bush directly when talks restarted over the issue in 2007.
The Jewish Weekly quoted Adelson as saying 'the two-state solution is a stepping stone for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people.' He sees no distinction between the terrorist group Hamas and the Palestinian leadership.
Adelson donated $2,000 to now-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 1989. He also donated $2,000 to Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1993, when he was in an election fight with challenger ... Mitt Romney. But he pretty much stopped donating to Democrats in the 1993 cycle.
The New Yorker reported that as his wealth grew, 'he began to favour tax-averse Republican economic policies. He argued to an associate recently, 'Why is it fair that I should be paying a higher percentage of taxes than anyone else?''
He donated about $4,000 to the campaign and $25,000 to the Republican National Committee. His wife, Miriam, also contributed.
And Adelson rocked the political world this year when he single-handedly backed Newt Gingrich in the 2012 Republican presidential primary race.
Adelson continued giving to Republicans in 2008, providing $4,500 to John McCain in 2008. But Gingrich was the first to see the benefit of Adelson's super PAC contributions.
Adelson contributed $17 million in campaign contributions from the Adelson family over several years. In early 2012, Adelson wrote $10 million in checks to Gingrich's super PAC, Winning Our Future.
Source: The New York Times, Open Secrets
Even though former Republican presidential candidate John McCain blasted Adelson, the casino executive just continued to donate. Adelson has spent more than $20 million in the 2012 election cycle alone.
He told Forbes that he is against the concept, but he'll contribute as long as its legal.
'I'm against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections,
Adelson has financed about 12 per cent of Romney's super PAC's total contributions thus far, and with that kind of money comes influence. The Daily Beast reported that Adelson is pushing Romney to support the clemency of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. And that's not all:
The billionaire has also asked Romney to state publicly that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are a waste of time because the Palestinians are unwilling to make peace, according to the sources--and he wants a firmer commitment from Romney to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in what would be a de facto recognition of Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem.
So far, Romney has been hesitant to comply, especially on the Pollard front.
Adelson remains mostly a mystery.
Adelson says he may write a book one day, but in the meantime The New York Times described him as 'hardly a household name. He avoids the limelight and rarely speaks to the press, remaining something of an enigma.'
When a reporter introduced himself in Israel, Adelson responded: 'Why do you guys keep writing negative things about me?'
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