Casino mogul Adelson donates another $10 million, boosting Gingrich

Center for Public IntegrityFebruary 17, 2012 

WASHINGTON — Casino owner Sheldon Adelson is expected to send another $10 million donation within days to the outside group that's provided life support to Newt Gingrich's beleaguered presidential campaign, say fundraisers with ties to the multibillionaire.

The infusion would bring total donations from Adelson and his family to the pro-Gingrich "super" political action committee Winning Our Future to a stunning $21 million — far more than any super PAC donor has given to date. It also would be among the largest publicly reported donations to a single entity in federal campaign history.

The funds are expected to arrive in the next seven to 10 days and help fuel a multimillion-dollar television advertising blast prior to the Super Tuesday presidential sweepstakes on March 6, when 10 states conduct GOP primaries.

One fundraiser who has spoken with Adelson in the last week said that the wealthy supporter of Jewish and pro-Israel causes remains committed to keeping Gingrich in the race.

It's unclear whether the pro-Gingrich group's ads will attack the frontrunners in the race for the Republican presidential nomination — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum — burnish Gingrich's conservative image or both.

Odds are that the contribution won't win the nomination for Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives who is now trailing in the polls. But if the super PAC's new spending erodes conservative support from Santorum, that would be fine with Adelson, say fundraisers. The billionaire has told fundraisers that he likes Romney and deems him his second choice.

Rick Tyler, a senior adviser to the super PAC, declined to comment about whether any further donations were coming from Adelson. Tyler said in a phone interview that he was "optimistic" that the super PAC would be able to run an advertising campaign prior to Super Tuesday, but "to be effective, we would need a significant infusion of cash."

Ron Reese, a spokesman for Adelson, declined to comment.

While speculation abounds over whether Adelson would contribute still more money, his close associates in Las Vegas remain tight-lipped about any future funding for Winning Our Future. Adelson owns the Las Vegas Sands and is worth an estimated $21.5 billion. He is currently in Israel attending his son's bar mitzvah.

Adelson's largesse — which includes $5 million from his wife and $1 million more from other family members — was made possible by court rulings in early 2010 that permit corporations, individuals and unions to give unlimited amounts to groups that can advocate directly for the election or defeat of a candidate.

Adelson has known Gingrich since the mid-1990s. The two have close personal and political ties based largely on their shared backing of hard-line Israeli policies toward its Arab neighbors. An earlier $5 million Adelson donation funded an advertising drive by the super PAC in South Carolina that was crucial to Gingrich's primary victory there.

Adelson's expected $10 million gift, which was first reported by CBS News, is badly needed for advertising by the PAC and the Gingrich campaign, both of which have been strapped for cash since last month's Florida primary. In the Sunshine State, Gingrich lost badly to Romney, whose campaign and supportive super PAC easily outspent Gingrich's.

This week Winning Our Future plowed almost $1 million into radio ads nationwide aimed mostly at reaching conservatives who listen to talk radio personalities such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

The Adelson family donations would be the biggest since 2004, when liberal billionaire George Soros donated $23.7 million to Democratic-leaning groups in a failed effort to help Sen. John Kerry defeat President George W. Bush, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

(The Center for Public Integrity is a non-profit center for investigative journalism.)

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