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Fix Pick: Get To Know Sheldon Adelson

For anyone who has been to Las Vegas in the last few years, it's hard to miss Sheldon Adelson's imprint on the Strip -- his Venetian and Palazzo casinos are among the most luxurious in Sin City. But, for those of who who toil day in and day out in the nation's capital, Adelson has been a distance presence.

No longer.

Adelson, the third richest man in America according to Forbes magazine, has in recent years turned his attention and, more importantly, his wallet to American politics. Adelson has donated more than $229,000 to various state and national Republican committees and candidates over the last three elections but his real influence is felt in the contributions he has -- and continues to make -- to 527s and 501(c)(4)s that engaged in public education/political efforts

Adelson is one of the prime movers and major backers of Freedom's Watch, the independent, conservative-aligned group expected to play a major role in House and Senate races this year. He has reportedly donated $30 million to fund the groups activities, but because Freedom's Watch is a 501(c)(4), it is not required to make public its donors.

Although Adelson has lurked in the shadows for years, two new profiles -- one by the Wall Street Journal (subscriber-only, boooo!), the other by the New Yorker -- bring him into sharp relief.

Among the tidbits we learn about Adelson:

* His massive wealth is a relatively recent phenomenon due in large part to his investment in casinos on the Chinese island of Macau. Adelson invested hundreds of millions; his return on the investment was in billions.

* Adelson is a major figure in Israeli politics, having started a free daily newspaper known as Israel Hayom that is widely seen as a vehicle to re-install conservative Benjamin Netanyahu as the country's prime minister.

* The gaming tycoon sees his role in the coming fall election as "the cavalry coming over the hill, bugles blaring," according to a rare interview (Adelson idolizes MGM Grand majority shareholder Kirk Kerkorian in press relations; "Kirk never talks to the press," he says) with the Wall Street Journal.

* Adelson and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) are engaged in a long-running feud. When Adelson fired Berkley, who in the late 1990s was vice president of government and legal affairs of Sands, he penned a letter to the Las Vegas Review Journal accusing Berkley of attacking him "in order to draw attention away from her own ethical lapses." Berkley, who ran for and won a seat in Congress in 1998, responded with a letter of her own alleging that "Mr. Adelson seeks to dominate politics and public policy through the raw power of money." Only in Vegas.

What's clear from both pieces about Adelson is that Republicans in Congress view him as a potential savior (he is referred to in both profiles as the conservatives answer to liberal philanthropist Georges Soros). Adelson is not the silver bullet answer many Republicans are looking for, but it would be a mistake by Democrats to underestimate the power that one extremely wealthy man with an agenda to push can have on congressional races.

The key in determining Adelson's impact? How much money does he ultimately give to Freedom's Watch, and other-like minded groups, and does the money have strings attached or can the operatives at the organizations spend it as they see fit?

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 17, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Fix Picks  
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Comments

$229,000 to republicans over the past 3 years? Now there's money poorly spent. Makes me wonder how he made so much money to begin with making investments like that.

Posted by: ChadInFL | July 17, 2008 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

Thanks for shining some light on Adelson, but let's stop calling him and the politicians he supports "conservatives." They don't bear any resemblance to authentic conservatives, whose bedrock philosophy is prudent fiscal management, sensible and cautious foreign policy, good stewardship of our natural resources, and keeping the government out of our personal lives.

The biggest and most successful scam I've ever seen is the amazing feat pulled off by people like Bush and Cheney and Adelson and Rove-- they are nothing but a ruthless and greedy lot who somehow managed to convince the media that they are 'conservatives.' This isn't just a superficial matter of semantics; they have actually won mainstream respectability and legitimacy by masquerading as something that they are not.

Posted by: global yokel | July 17, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Sheldon Adelson makes me ashamed to be Jewish.

Posted by: phoebes in santa fe | July 17, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

McCain's reported jokes, one that his aides say he doesn't recall telling, but which was reported in the Tucson Citizen, an Arizona paper, during his 1986 Senate campaign:

"Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, 'Where is that marvelous ape?'"

The Post's man of ethics, the man Cohen and Broder call a man of integrity, the man who cheats on his wives, takes a marriage license while still married, has sex with subordinates in the military and gets kicked out for it...that man of honor John McCain

Posted by: Joshua Gen for a New GOP | July 17, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

This is just sickening. The idea that we have a democracy is a cruel joke. It's nothing but an old-fashioned fiefdom and most of us are serfs.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

""Rich Elite Fools" are still opening their Louis Vuitton checkbooks and wrighting those checks to "uncle Obama". They just can't wait for him to get elected and raise their taxes. Boy how did any of these people ever make a buck. I guess they cheated their way thru life. But thats why they are the "Rich Elite Fools""

________________________

Helps to know how to spell "writing"

Makes it easier to get a job.

Posted by: DDAWD | July 17, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"Rich Elite Fools" are still opening their Louis Vuitton checkbooks and wrighting those checks to "uncle Obama". They just can't wait for him to get elected and raise their taxes. Boy how did any of these people ever make a buck. I guess they cheated their way thru life. But thats why they are the "Rich Elite Fools"

VJ Machiavelli
http://www.vjmachiavelli.blogspot.com

Posted by: VJ Machiavelli | July 17, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

You will let us know about the strings, if as and When, correct?

Posted by: MarkInAustin | July 17, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

A SONG FOR SHELDON

How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?
Now that you know who you are
What do you want to be? / and have you traveled very far?
Far as the eye can see.
How does it feel to be one of the people?
How often have you been there? / often enough to know
What did you see when you were there? nothing that doesn't show
Baby you're a rich man
Baby you're a rich man
Baby you're a rich man too
You keep all your money in a big brown bag inside the zoo
What a thing to do

IF YOU VALUE OUR DEMOCRACY AND THE
RULE OF LAW, PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK:

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/vigilante-injustice-organized-gang-stalking-american-gestapo-are-they-doing-hi-tech-torture


Posted by: scrivener | July 17, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

chris

not to kiss a## but your column everybody should be reading your column.,,,from both sides of the aisle.

You are part of the new wave...gotta tell ya' proud of my generation coming up through the ranks.

With people like you, AC, Kristen Powers, Chuck Todd, and Jake Tapper...we may actually see the slow disappearance again of "sheep's clothing journalism" of Roger Ailes.

Not joshin' ...I honestly feel good about who may be protecting us on the press side....just wanted to say it.

Posted by: dl | July 17, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

"Money can't buy you love."

-- The Beatles

(Also relevant: Baby You're a Rich Man, Too"


IF YOU VALUE OUR DEMOCRACY AND THE
RULE OF LAW, PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK:


http://www.nowpublic.com/world/vigilante-injustice-organized-gang-stalking-american-gestapo-are-they-doing-hi-tech-torture

Posted by: scrivener | July 17, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Correct me if I am wrong, but I remember reading an article a few months ago where Freedom's Watch was going nowhere, and it just had a major leadership shake-up, and one of the major problems was the micro-managing of Adelson. And that he was attaching strings to the money he was giving. Is this true?

Posted by: bradleyhirsh | July 17, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like this guy could be a serious swift-boater.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: matt | July 17, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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