Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his family are unafraid of using their money in politics. They purportedly gave $20 million to Newt Gingrich’s failed run for the Republican presidential nomination — and reportedly weighed an astounding $100 million donation. But with Gingrich dispatched, Adelson is now turning his attention to presumptive nominee Mitt Romney. It’s not clear if Adelson has yet poured millions of dollars into SuperPACs associated with the Romney campaign, and we may never know: Adelson vowed this winter to keep most of his election giving secret.
We do know that Adelson was slated to meet today in his Las Vegas office with Romney, according to a CBS report citing people close to the billionaire.
So who is Adelson? Here’s a reminder of some of the priorities and far right-wing views held by the owner of Las Vegas Sands Corporation and its Venetian hotel:
- In February, Adelson and his wife reportedly joined up with the Koch brothers for the first time in their twice-yearly gathering of major right-wing donors largely obsessed with ending regulation on business. Reports suggested that the Adelsons would contribute to American Crossroads, an attack-dog Super PAC run by Karl Rove.
- One of the reasons Adelson wants to keep his political giving private is that his gambling empire and, relatedly, close relationship with the Chinese government awkwardly juxtapose with Christian conservative views (Adelson’s been denounced) and Republican antipathy on China (including from Romney). 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 GOP Majority Whip Tom DeLay (TX). Adelson went on to get a lucrative gambling license from China to build a casino in Macau.
- Part of Adelson’s Chinese dealings, which came under federal scrutiny in 2011, went through a non-profit called the Adelson Center for U.S.-China Enterprise. According to a WikiLeaks cable flagged by Salon, the association, which was meant to facilitate business between the U.S. and China, was shut down by the Chinese government after some “missteps” with “funds transfer mechanisms” used by Las Vegas Sands. Unlike competitors, the cable said, Las Vegas Sands lobbied Beijing directly instead of going through Macau authorities.
- Gingrich told NBC News that Adelson puts a priority on far-right policies on Israel. Adelson opposed the American Israeli Affairs Committee — threatening to withdraw financial support — when the group backed a Bush administration-led peace process in 2007. Adelson has since said, “There won’t be a two-state solution; there won’t be a one-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has, in the past, suggested the two-state solution was “suicide” for Israel
- Adelson’s right-wing views on Israel have, at times, descended into bigotry against Palestinians, who he thinks do not have legitimate aspirations to a state of their own. When Newt Gingrich said Palestinians are an “invented” people — a talking point the New Yorker’s David Remnick said was “propaganda” — Adelson backed him up. “Read the history of those who call themselves Palestinians,” he told a group of young American Jews visiting Israel late last year, “and you will hear why Gingrich said recently that the Palestinians are an invented people.”
While Mitt Romney claims to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and advocates for a tough foreign policy on China, the man he was slated to meet with today in Las Vegas has espoused a nearly opposite set of policy views. He’s also shown no timidity in throwing around his money to pursue those political interests in the U.S., China and Israel.