Sheldon Adelson: Big-money bogeyman

Sheldon Adelson has already spent more money on the GOP election than George Soros spent in all of 2004

Topics: 2012 Elections, Campaign Finance,

Sheldon Adelson: Big-money bogeymanSheldon Adelson (Credit: Reuters/Siu Chiu)

Few people have been more vilified by the right than George Soros, the billionaire financier who spent millions trying to defeat George W. Bush in 2004. He’s been the subject of a borderline anti-Semitic expose by Glenn Beck, been called “evil” by conservative blogs, and seen his name become an epithet to attack people who may or may not be tied to the secretive mega-donor. All this thanks to his deep-pocketed crusade against Bush and other conservatives.

But George Soros is about to get completely blown out of the water by Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul and conservative mega-donor. In 2004, Soros gave $23.7 million to a handful of outside political groups called 527 organizations, which were the state-of-the-art in campaign finance at the time, making him the largest donor to the outside groups that year.

It’s only June, but Adelson has already surpassed Soros’ record from eight years ago in donations to outside groups. In fact, he may have passed it a while ago, since by late March, Adelson and his wife had already contributed $21 million to the super PAC backing Newt Gingrich, keeping the former speaker’s campaign afloat for months past its due date.

Now, the Wall Street Journal’s Alicia Mundy and Sara Murray report today that Adelson is prepared to chip in $10 million to the super PAC backing Mitt Romney, with much more where that came from. Adelson has apparently already made two more contributions above $10 million, ABC News reported, but he would not reveal the amount. The Las Vegas hotelier has told friends he intends to spend at least $100 million helping conservatives get elected in this cycle alone.

Meanwhile, the Miami Herald reported yesterday that Adelson gave $250,000 to the PAC of Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is currently battling the Department of Justice over his effort to purge voter rolls in the state. Adelson gave another $250,000 to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign earlier this year. And on top of that, he and his wife gave $5 million to a super PAC working to elect Republicans to Congress, the Congressional Leadership Fund.

You Might Also Like

Add it all up and you get at least $36.5 million so far for this cycle — about 150 percent of the $24 million Soros gave in 2004.

Bob Biersack, a senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics, agreed the comparison is “parallel,” noting the different types of groups (527s versus super PACS) reflect the different campaign finance regimes of each cycle.

And that doesn’t include anything Adelson may have given to so-called dark money groups, like 501(c)4s, which don’t have to disclose their donors at all. In April, Adelson, apparently frustrated with the public scrutiny he’s received, told the Las Vegas Sun, “I’m going to give one more small donation — you might not think it’s that small — to a SuperPAC and then if I give it will be to a c4.” If Adelson makes good on his promise to spend $100 million, he’ll quadruple Soros’ record. We also don’t how much he may have bundled for Romney, because Romney is the first candidate in over a decade who has refused to disclose that information.

Romney met with Adelson last month in Las Vegas, which was overshadowed by Romney’s other big confab that day, with Donald Trump. It would be illegal for Romney to request a donation from Adelson to his Restore Our Future super PAC in excess of the amount donors can give directly to candidates — $5,000 — so some transparency watchdogs have called on Romney to disclose more information about that meeting.

Meanwhile, there’s an argument to be made that the infamous Koch brothers surpassed Soros a while ago.

And where is Soros this year? Almost nonexistent. He was largely turned off to electoral politics after Bush was reelected in 2004 (and one of his groups received a massive fine from the FEC for excessive contributions). In 2012, he’s pledged just $2 million to support President Obama’s reelection, a significant amount, but a pittance compared to what he could give.

So will conservatives give up the George Soros bugaboo? Don’t hold your breath.

Alex Seitz-Wald
Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>