The REAL Reason Sheldon Adelson Endorsed Trump
Adelson Is Ready To Spend At Least $100 Million On Trump
The Republican party’s most generous campaign donor, Sheldon Adelson, issued a tepid but clear statement of support for the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Writing in the Washington Post, Adelson said the “alternative” to Trump is “frightening.” Adelson endorsed Trump and encouraged
“…Republican elected officials, party loyalists and operatives, and those who provide important financial backing — to do the same.”
Adelson’s word carries a ton of weight at this point in the process. Republicans’ 2012 nominee Mitt Romney recently met with conservative thought leader Bill Kristol to discuss the possibility of running a third party candidate on a more orthodox conservative platform. When Trump clinched the nomination, House Speaker Paul Ryan, one of the most powerful Republicans in Washington, initially refused to back Trump. But the two have been working to bridge their divide.
In 2012, Adelson donated $100 million to Romney’s campaign and PACs. By some estimates, he spent upwards of $150 million on that election, including dark money, as well as his early support for Newt Gingrich in the primaries.
He is now poised to drop another $100 million or more on Trump this year, according to the New York Times. That is the kind of donation that has the power to end the discussion on whether or not the party will back the nominee. For any prospective third party conservative, there’s no point in trying to run against that kind of fundraising.
During the Republicans’ 17-way nomination battle royale, it wasn’t clear who, if anyone, Adelson was supporting. There were hints that Adelson might back Marco Rubio, but no publicly-known support ever materialized before the Senator faded away after Trump crushed him in his own state of Florida. Trump even dinged Rubio for being Adelson’s “puppet.”
While Adelson’s support for Trump now may seem lukewarm, or driven by his own logic of the lesser of evils, I suspect that he is actually thrilled that Trump is the nominee. This is because Trump is the perfect candidate for Adelson for the reason that he started getting heavily involved in donating to presidential candidates in the first place.
In 2010, Adelson was sued by Steven Jacobs, a former employee, for wrongful termination. Jacobs alleged that he was marched out of his office in Macau after refusing to perform illegal acts at Adelson’s direction. This lawsuit became the tip of the iceberg into a much bigger investigation into Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. behemoth casino company, and whether Adelson violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The investigation became enormous,
“In 2012, Adelson’s corporation came under three different investigations from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an anti-bribery statute. Additionally, the Times reported at the time that several of the company’s subsidiaries also ‘came under investigation by Chinese regulators.’
Adelson allegedly attempted to bribe the Chief Executive of Macau, where a substantial portion of his casino business was located, and reportedly instructed Sands Corp. to bribe a Macau legislator with about $700,000 in ‘legal fees.’ (ProPublica reported that ‘several Las Vegas Sands executives resigned or were fired after expressing concerns’ about the fee.) A former Sands Corp. executive also alleged that Adelson fired him after he refused to engage in illegal activity and protested the presence of Chinese organized crime syndicates in Sands’ Macau casinos.
Adelson initially insisted that he was being unfairly targeted, but Sands Corp.’s own audit committee ultimately admitted there were ‘likely violations’ of the anti-bribery law. And in August 2013, Sands Corp. agreed to pay the federal government more than $47 million in a settlement to resolve a separate money-laundering investigation, in which the casinos were accused of ‘accepting millions from high-rolling gamblers accused of drug trafficking and embezzlement.’”
Coincidentally for Adelson, the year the lawsuit launched was also the year of Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision which legalized campaign finance money laundering. The investigation was very active in 2012 when he wrote Romney a newly legal 9-figure check.
The lawsuit is currently in court in Nevada, where Sands Corp. operates. In 2015, Adelson bought Nevada’s largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and tried to keep his purchase a secret. Things changed rapidly at the paper after the casino magnate bought it. Intrepid reporters at the Review-Journal uncovered their publication’s new owner, and during the transition, attempted to expose as much of what was happening as possible before being replaced. One very telling report reveals how Adelson used the newspaper to pressure District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, who is presiding over his case,
Just over a month before Sheldon Adelson’s family was revealed as the new owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, three reporters at the newspaper received an unusual assignment passed down from the newspaper’s corporate management: Drop everything and spend two weeks monitoring all activity of three Clark County judges.
The reason for the assignment and its unprecedented nature was never explained.
One of the three judges observed was District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, whose current caseload includes Jacobs v. Sands, a long-running wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Adelson and his company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., by Steven Jacobs, who ran Sands’ operations in Macau.
Adelson’s campaign against Gonzalez culminated in an attempt to have her removed from the case, accusing her of a conflict of interest based on a statement she made to the media. To its credit, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that Gonzalez would remain the judge in the case. The high court’s ruling was May 11th, 2 days before the billionaire endorsed Trump.
For a man who is trying to prove he isn’t corrupt, Adelson has a funny way of showing it: rejiggering newspapers, buying presidential candidates, bullying judges. Similarly, Trump has a funny way of showing how he can be presidential, jumping at Super PAC money as soon as it’s available to him after promising to self-fund his campaign, and refusing to release his tax returns despite many questions about his wealth.
Adelson and Trump are two peas in a pod. Both are casino magnates, extremely rich, newly getting deeply involved in politics. Both are suspected of manipulating the system for their own ends, and both are accused of hiding something. Adelson is probably happier to be supporting Trump in this election than he lets on. The two men are on the same wavelength, and Adelson likely believes that his personal goals, like convincing the Feds to leave him alone, might be easier under a Trump presidency than any other.
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