During his lifetime, billionaire Sheldon Adelson (1933–2021) was one of the all-time biggest donors to the Republican Party. After running a successful business in computer trade shows, the Boston-born entrepreneur bought the former Sands Casino in Las Vegas and demolished it to build The Venetian. In 2004, he opened a casino on the island of Macau with approval from the Chinese government. This venture helped increase his net worth to an estimated $30 billion by the time he died in early 2021.
After the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United that political spending is free speech, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, increased their backing of conservative candidates, spending more than $500 million over the past decade to shape the GOP, according to Politico. In October 2020, their donations hit a new record—$172.7 million—an amount that increased to $218 million by the end of the 2020 election cycle, making them the biggest donors to that election.
A staunch supporter of Israel, Adelson wanted the U.S. embassy in Israel moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem during the Trump administration and offered to pay for at least part of the cost of building a new embassy.
Adelson supported militaristic groups such as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Israeli American Council, United Against Nuclear Iran, and the Zionist Organization of America. Over the years, the couple also gave tens of millions of dollars to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but pulled that support in 2007 when the organization backed an economic aid package for Palestinians.
The Adelsons were consistently the largest donors to the Republican Jewish Coalition, a conservative, pro-Israel lobbying group, with Sheldon serving on RJC’s board before he died. During the 2020 presidential election cycle, two separate Republican Jewish PACs spent roughly $10 milion in an effort to persuade Jewish voters in swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania to vote for Trump and other GOP candidates.
The Big Lie
- The Adelsons donated more than $190 million to politicians who made unsubstantiated claims of fraud and denied the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.
- In 2020, both Sheldon and Miriam each donated $35 million to the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), a super PAC tied to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
- In 2020, the Adelsons contributed $50 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) super PAC.
- According to OpenSecrets, the Adelsons donated $524.6 million to Republican candidates in the 2020 campaign cycle.
- The couple donated $90 million to Trump’s Preserve America super PAC, making them its top donors.
- The Adelsons donated $ 1 million to the Security is Strength PAC founded by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
- In 2018, the couple donated $10 million to America First Action, which ended up being one of the largest donors to the 147 congressional Republicans who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021.
- The Adelsons funded many other PACs and organizations that supported election deniers, including the Ending Spending Action Fund, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the New Republican PAC, and the Republican Jewish Committee Victory Fund.