Technically, pledging up to $100 million isn’t quite the same thing as “limitless,” but functionally it has to approach it, unless we’re talking about Barack Obama’s budget deficits. Forbes interviewed Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and discovered that the conservative activist has not just gotten over his disappointment over Newt Gingrich’s loss in the primaries, he’s ready to pony up for the man who beat his favored candidate:
Forbes has confirmed that billionaire Sheldon Adelson, along with his wife Miriam, has donated $10 million to the leading Super PAC supporting presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney–and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A well-placed source in the Adelson camp with direct knowledge of the casino billionaire’s thinking says that further donations will be “limitless.”
Adelson, who has built Las Vegas Sands into an global casino empire, will do “whatever it takes” to defeat Obama, this source says. And given that Adelson is worth $24.9 billion–and told Forbes in a recent rare interview about his political giving that he had been willing to donate as much as $100 million to his initial presidential preference, Newt Gingrich–that “limitless” description telegraphs potential nine-digit support of Romney.
Adelson vehemently opposes Obama’s policy on Israel, one of the issues closest to his heart, but he also has openly spoken of his anger over Obama’s “socialization” of the US, which Forbes also notes. Adelson is no stranger to putting his words into action, either, and not just in the context of political fights. His resort complex, the Venetian/Palazzo, is the only non-union shop on the Vegas Strip. He will host his second Right Online conference starting tomorrow, where I will be speaking with Scott Rasmussen on polling and analysis for the next generation of bloggers and activists. (Note: My expenses are being paid by the conference, not the resort, as is normal for featured speakers.)
Adelson will push his contributions through super-PACs, which have become a flash point in this cycle for campaign-finance activists. Forbes asked Adelson whether billionaires like himself should be able to influence elections to this degree, but Adelson replied by noting that billionaires did it all the time — just with less transparency:
Does Adelson feel guilty about one American potentially steering the fate of the presidential election? “I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections,” Adelson told me in February. “But as long as it’s doable I’m going to do it. Because I know that guys like Soros have been doing it for years, if not decades. And they stay below the radar by creating a network of corporations to funnel their money. I have my own philosophy and I’m not ashamed of it.”
Touchè. A $100 million windfall will have a large impact on outside-group media buys and organizational efforts, to be sure, although it doesn’t affect Team Romney’s direct fundraising. It’s the kind of activity that frightens Team Obama most, especially since traditional Democratic billionaires like Soros and Peter Lewis seem less inclined to do the same thing this time around. And let’s not forget that Barack Obama was the first major-party Presidential candidate since Watergate to refuse to participate in the public financing of his campaign and the spending limits that go with it. To a very large extent, Obama made his own bed, and Adelson will be happy to see him lying in it.