Sheldon Adelson’s Signature Group Attracts All Major GOP Candidates to Conference
The Republican Jewish Coalition is having a national conference in Washington D.C. this week. Also attending will be all the remaining candidates for the 2016 Republican Party presidential nomination.
The Republican Jewish Coalition was described by U.S. News & World Report as the “signature group” of Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation.
Adelson also donated more money to Republican campaigns than any other contributor in the 2012 election ($90 million). With the exception of the Koch Brothers, the 80-year old gaming executive is seen as the number one donor for candidates heading into the 2016 US Presidential race.
Connections to the Republican Jewish Coalition
Sheldon Adelson sits on the board of the RJC. He also is known as one of the coalition’s top financial contributors. Thus, for several days this week, Sheldon Adelson’s employees and friends are likely to have the ear of leading GOP politicians.
That is a problem for the online gambling industry, because the casino mogul takes a hard line stance on the issue of gambling online. He believes it is dangerous for problem gamblers and youth gamblers, too, and wants to see it banned at the federal level of government. To that end, he has cronies likes Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz to push Restore America’s Wire Act in the US Congress.
Marco Rubio’s Support for RAWA
Marco Rubio has signed on as a co-sponsor of that bill. Rubio, who was an opponent of all forms of gambling while the President of the Florida Senate, never showed much interest in the RAWA before signing on to the legislation. That decision was announced a week before Marco Rubio formally entered the race for US president. Many gaming media members saw the two decisions inexorably linked: Sen. Rubio wanted Sheldson Adelson’s financial support.
Rubio is not the only one for that support. On Thursday, all remaining GOP candidates are set to give 30-minute speeches before the Republican Jewish Coalition. That includes everyone from Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who are neck-and-neck in the polls, to Jim Gilmore, who hardly appears in the poll numbers and is consistently in the afternoon GOP debates. The speeches run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, with the top candidates receiving the best times to speak.
The Republican Jewish Coalition has attracted every single Republican candidate to its pre-election “presidential forum” every election year since 1988. Besides the GOP debates, it is one of the few gatherings which has that kind of attractive power. This is the second time this year the candidates have met with the RJC. Earlier this year, when the group had its annual conference in Las Vegas, most of the leading candidates at the time appeared.
Deeper Examination of Policies
Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said the format used at the presidential forum allows for a much deeper examination of the candidates than the debates, which are meant to be a distilled picture of the candidates at work. The debates allow a couple of minutes at most to discuss issues, while the 30-minute format allows for much deeper explanations of police.
Mr. Brooks said those in attendance “want to know what’s in their hearts and guts on these weighty issues.”
Matt Brooks added that the attendees “are looking to see who passes the commander-in-chief threshold.”
Sheldon Adelson Not Taking Sides
Though Sheldon Adelson is not set to talk to candidates directly, he already had that kind of interplay back in the spring, at the 2015 spring conference. He is more likely to speak to the politicians vying for the GOP nomination in two weeks, when the candidates gather at the Venetian Casino in Las Vegas for the fifth Republican debate. The Venetian is owned by the Las Vegas Sands Corp, and it is the global headquarters of Sheldon Adelson’s leading international casino gambling company.
Due to scheduling conflicts, Sheldon Adelson will not be in attendance at the presidential forum. Now is not the time for the gaming exec to make his presence felt, it would seem. Sheldon Adelson said through a spokesman that he has no interest in taking sides in the primary process. Adelson appears to be saving his money for the national elections, when the Republicans face off against the Democrats — not each other.
Andy Abboud, the LVS spokesman well-known to online gambling community members, said that “The Adelsons are generally pleased with the Republican candidates and feel that the primary process will work itself out.”
Adelson’s stance in 2016 is a far cry from his intervention in the 2012 primaries. He was old friends with Newt Gingrich, so he put up $15 million to bankroll the Gingrich campaign. That money sustained the former Speaker of the House’s campaign long after it appeared to be finished in the polls.
More Than a One-Issue Donor
The 2016 field has no such favorite. Adelson has met this year with Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham, and Rick Santorum, but none of them are said to be old friends. With what is considered a strong field, he appears willing to wait until a nominee is decided and place his millions on that entrant.
Even if he were to interact with the politicians, Sheldon Adelson has other issues at stake. More so than online gambling, Sheldon Adelson is concerned about issues facing the state of Israel, as well as the wider geopolitical issues in the Middle East. Iran’s nuclear program is a notable concern of his. The LVS chairman owns several Israeli media firms and is a friend of Benjamin Netanyahu.
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