Politico adds up casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson’s total campaign giving so far this cycle:
Worth just over $21 billion and now in the cross hairs of the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, Adelson has made history: He is the first person to spend $70 million to sway a presidential election, and he plans to spend more — perhaps as much as $100 million — by Election Day. An estimated $20 million to $30 million of the giving went to groups that do not disclose their donors and had not been reported before.
That’s nearly three times the $24 million that liberal billionaire George Soros spent to try to beat President George W. Bush in 2004, Politico’s Mike Allen notes.
That’s one interesting tidbit in Politico’s lengthy profile of Adelson, which draws on Allen’s exclusive interview with the GOP mega-donor.
Here are some highlights:
* Adelson’s big giving means that he is in demand:
“He’s the man of the hour,” said a Republican official who has visited him in Vegas many times. “Everyone’s trying to get in to see him – every candidate, every PAC director, every campaign committee, every super PAC guy. When you’re giving out money the way he is, everyone wants a piece of the pie.”
* He thinks politically motivated government officials are leaking information about federal investigations of his businesses:
Adelson gave the interview in part to signal that he intends to fight back in increasingly visible ways. Articles about the investigations appeared last month on the front pages of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He maintains that after his family became heavily involved in the election, the government began leaking information about federal inquiries that involve old events, and with which the company has been cooperating.
The aim of the leaks, he argued, is “making me toxic so that they can make the argument to the Republicans, ‘This guy is toxic. Don’t do business with him. Don’t take his money.’ Not all government employees are leakers, but most of the leakers are government employees.”
* He thinks Obama dissed Vegas:
Like many other businesspeople who depend on tourism, Adelson holds a grudge from just three weeks after Obama’s inauguration, when the new president said financiers receiving bailouts shouldn’t “go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime.”
“From that point on, Vegas started to go down,” Adelson said. “And he’s got the nerve, the chutzpah, to come here and raise money here. He should follow his own advice and not come to Vegas. He hurt me. He hurt 200,000 people working in the hospitality industry in this town.”
* He has encouraged outside groups to which he donates to coordinate their election activities:
Adelson has played a previously unreported role that has helped maximize the outside groups’ muscle. He has insisted that they coordinate their efforts, making the spending more efficient. “If word got back to him that a group wasn’t cooperating, he’d cut them off,” said a top official at one of the groups, who deals personally with Adelson. “It’s to maximize the dollars. You don’t want repetition. You don’t people doubling up. He doesn’t want to feel like his money is wasted.”
* Adelson once gave money (though in much smaller amounts) to Democrats:
Adelson said he had been fairly apolitical until a friend invited him to his first national political convention — the 1988 Democratic convention in Atlanta. “It wasn’t really a lot of fun because everywhere I went — in the coffee shop, walking down the hallway, going into an elevator — everybody was talking about what kind of job they’re going to get when Michael Dukakis became president,” he recalled. “It disgusted me.”
Then, he went to the 1992 Republican convention in Houston. “I didn’t hear a single word about what people were going to get,” he said. “They were dignified, well-behaved. I said to myself, ‘I don’t belong in that rowdy crowd down in Atlanta, the Democrats.’ I said, ‘That’s not really me.’ So, I guess I converted. … After I had given the Democrats $100,000, to fix the error of my ways, I gave the Republicans $100,000.”
* Adelson had trouble recalling exactly how many millions he gave to a pro-Newt Gingrich Super-PAC:
“I gave 5 million or 10 million — I forget — to Newt Gingrich,” he said.
* He wants latkes:
Adelson said he recently told Romney: “I want to tell you something: I’m not looking for an ambassadorship. I’m not looking for anything, except if I’m fortunate enough to be invited to another [White House] Hanukkah party, I want two potato pancakes, because last time I was there, they ran out of them.” He explained that he went “to all the Hanukkah parties for the eight years of Bush … but the last time I was there, they ran out of … latkes.”