The funding behind Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future, an independent political committee, offers an intriguing clue into the financial deep pockets backing Gingrich’s candidacy. This week, McClatchy revealed that American Solutions footed the $8 million bill for private jet charters while Gingrich weighed whether to enter the 2008 and 2012 presidential races. Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson was the biggest funder of American Solutions, contributing $7.65 million and rumored to have committed $20 million to a pro-Gingrich super PAC, a report denied by an Adelson spokesperson. Whether the report is true or not, the facts increasingly show that the billionaire casino magnate is a central figure in Newt Gingrich’s political career.
Sands Corporation CEO Sheldon Adelson is based in Las Vegas but has business and political interests in Macau, China and Israel. In Israel, Adelson’s importance stems from his close friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ownership of Israel HaYom, a free daily newspaper which supports Netanyahu’s Likud party. Back in the U.S., Adelson sits on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition and is outspoken about his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
During the George W. Bush presidency, Adelson opposed efforts to jump start peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians and even took sides against the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) when the organization supported peace talks. “I don’t continue to support organizations that help friends committing suicide just because they say they want to jump,” Adelson told the Jewish Telegraph Agency.
Gingrich, who characterized Palestinians as “terrorists” during a December 10th GOP debate and told the Jewish Channel that Palestians are an “invented” people, would seem to be mirroring the hardline positions taken by his early, and cash flush, benefactor.
“Sheldon has always loved Newt. He stuck with him through all of this,” Fred Zeidman, an Adelson friend and major player in the American Jewish community who is backing Mitt Romney told The Daily Beast’s Aram Roston. “He stuck with him when he stumbled. Newt, I think, is very reflective of Sheldon’s mindset. Particularly with Israel.”
While Adelson and Gingrich appear to share the same right-wing agenda on the Middle East, the casino magnate’s business dealings in China have proven a political liability for him at home. Adelson allegedly helped crush a congressional measure by House Republicans opposing Beijing’s Olympic bid. “The bill will never see the light day, Mr. Mayor. Don’t worry about it,” he reportedly told Beijing’s mayor in 2001 after phoning then House Majority Whip Tom Delay. The Sands Corporation went on to receive a lucrative casino license from the Chinese government, permitting them to begin a massive development in the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR).
Responding to Adelson’s close dealings with the Chinese government, the Christian Coalition of Alabama’s president, Dr. Randy Brinson denounced Adelson for “not sharing our values.” “Where Sheldon Adelson has placed his treasure makes it quite clear where his heart is: in gambling and backing the regime in China that persecutes Christians,” he said.
Gingrich will face his own difficulties in persuading Christian evangelicals troubled by his multiple marriages and extramarital affairs to support his candidacy. But Sheldon Adelson’s noticeable presence in the Gingrich camp may prove another obstacle in winning over the all-important Christian-right.