Sheldon Adelson Says He’ll Fund Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign, But Not Down-Ballot GOP Races
Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson had a private meeting with Donald Trump this past week to discuss the upcoming U.S. presidential election. In that meeting, Sheldon Adelson indicated to the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee that he was willing to contribute to the former casino executive’s campaign.
Early in the process, Adelson suggested he would be willing to spend as much as $100 million to help the GOP win the presidency and maintain control of the U.S. Congress. In the 2012 presidential cycle, Sheldon Adelson is estimated to have spent $90 million on Republican candidates.
Focus Is on the Trump Campaign
Two Republicans familiar with Adelson’s deliberations say he plans to scale back contributions to Republican congressional candidates. Apparently, most of the Las Vegas gaming executive’s contributions are going to Donald Trump presidential bid. It is uncertain whether Adelson’s contribution to Trump is a sign of personal faith in the national populist candidate, a lack of confidence in Republican candidates, or calculation that Trump’s rise will help those candidates ride his coattails.
The announcement is well-timed. Donald Trump has been funding his primary battle with a personal loan to his own campaign. Trump has said he might need $1 billion to win the presidency, so the cash influx from Sheldon Adelson provides money to help launch the national effort against the Democrats. It also might be a signal to other big donors that it’s safe to spend on Donald Trump’s candidacy.
Koch Brothers Unlikely to Contribute
Previously, other big GOP donors have suggested they might not contribute to Trump’s campaign. Charles G. and David H. Koch had said they would donate between $700 million and $900 million to the Republican Party’s 2016 electoral effort. The Koch Brothers have since said they would not contribute to Donald Trump’s campaign. Trump’s controversial campaign manager, Corey Lewandewski, once worked for the Koch Brothers, but was fired for a number of alleged indiscretions.
Beltway insiders have suggested that many traditional Republican donors might prefer to see Hillary Clinton win the presidency. Despite the GOP disdain for Bill and Hillary Clinton, their economic policies are a great deal more friendly than the stances of many Democrats over the years. The Clinton’s have supported free trade, globalism, NAFTA, welfare reform, a balanced budget, and other supply-side economic policies.
Donald Trump’s Economic Policies
Meanwhile, many economic conservatives are frightened by Donald Trump’s stated economic policies. Trump has suggested tax hikes for the wealthiest 1% of Americans. He has discussed a 45% tariff on Chinese imports, which might start a trade war with China. Trump’s policies involving Muslims, illegal immigration, and NATO also threaten to cause disruptions to the United States’s longstanding international network of trade and diplomacy.
Of course, those potential donors might believe Donald Trump is not seriously suggesting many of those policies, especially since he tends to suggest an opposite policy at some other point in the campaign. Those potential donors might wonder what Donald Trump’s policies are going to be, which some are likely to see as scarier than ill-considered policies. Most business people want information, so they can make their calculations.
Trump and Adelson
Donald Trump has sparred with Sheldon Adelson in the recent past. On October 13, 2016, Trump tweeted that Adelson was giving money to an opponent, because that opponent was more malleable.
In the Twitter post, Trump wrote, “Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!”
In fact, Sheldon Adelson withheld donations during the GOP primary and caucus battles. In February 2016, the gaming mogul said he would not take sides during the nomination process, at least until the political picture was clearer. He said he would wait until the dust cleared in March 2016 and see where the party stood. Adelson said at the time he liked all the GOP candidates at the time and he thought every one of them was better than Hillary Clinton.
Sheldon Adelson’s Pet Issues
Adelson’s support is important on certain issues, because the Las Vegas executive has a few issues which concern him greatly. Top of the list of support for Israel. Sheldon Adelson is personal friends with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and owns a couple of Israel-based newspapers which support the conservative Likud Party.
Adelson is an outspoken critic of Iran’s nuclear program and has called on Israel to launch unilateral strikes against Iran. In retaliation, Iranian hackers attacked the Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s database in 2014 — a fact later confirmed by US law enforcement and intelligence experts.
Of all candidates, Donald Trump has signaled the most ambivalent stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump has said he does not want to take sides, a stance which attracted scorn from the Israel lobby and from Trump’s political candidates. In customary Donald Trump fashion, Trump later claimed “no one supports Israel more than” he does.
Support for RAWA
Sheldon Adelon’s other key issues is online gambling. For two years, he has supported a 50-state ban on online gambling, claiming he is concerned about gamblers losing their money. Many see Restore America’s Wire Act as Sheldon Adelson’s personal bill. Though RAWA failed to gain support, Adelson ally Sen. Lindsey Graham recently had the bill attached to a Senate Appropriations Bill, which soon will go to a U.S. House of Representatives for approval.
Many in the gaming community might see Donald Trump as a likely pro-gaming candidate. That might not be the case. Land-based gaming executives tend to be against online gambling, because it is competition. States like Nevada and California are proof that online gambling is often impeded by the land-based gaming interests. Also, the two men had a meetings this week and Sheldon Adelson pledged $100 million afterwards, so Donald Trump must have said the right things to get a pledge of support from Adelson.