Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson may have poured as much as $150 million into the 2012 election, according to a report in the Huffington Post.
The conservative Adelson played an outsize role in the election, with generous donations to candidates of his choice. A longtime Newt Gingrich backer, Adelson and his family helped sustain the former Speaker of the House’s campaign with more than $20 million to a pro-Gingrich Super PAC. After Gingrich bowed out, Adelson transferred his support to Mitt Romney, saying he was above all focused on denying President Obama a second term.
At the time, reports circulated that Adelson was prepared to lavish $100 million on that goal. But he may have exceeded even that titanic sum.
According to two anonymous Republican fundraisers, Adelson sent tens of millions to outside entities that were able to play a powerful role in the election thanks to a Supreme Court ruling that lifted limits on donations to third-party groups.
That includes between $30 million and $40 million to Crossroads GPS, a brainchild of GOP master strategist Karl Rove; at least $15 million to organizations tied to the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, who have spent heavily to promote a limited government, low-tax philosophy; and millions more to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Jewish Coalition.
All of those groups are designated as nonprofits, which means they are overseen by the Internal Revenue Service and do not have to disclose their donors. That differs from Super PACs, third-party organizations that can accept infinite amounts of money but have to report their donors and are administered by the Federal Elections Commission (the Obama administration has criticized groups like Crossroads GPS getting the nonprofit label, saying they violate the rules by engaging in political activities).
In addition to his donations to conservative nonprofits, Adelson spent a reported $54 million on Super PACs.
An ardent Zionist, Adelson got intimate access to Romney when the Republican nominee paid a visit to Jerusalem. Adelson was seated next to Romney when a group of high-profile donors attended a breakfast at Jerusalem’s King David hotel, where Romney courted controversy by appearing to endorse the notion that Israel’s prosperous economy was attributable to cultural differences with the Palestinians.
Romney also endorsed the idea of moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move Adelson has advocated.