In the week since the Las Vegas Review-Journal was purchased by an unknown buyer for $140 million, plenty of heads have been scratched in confusion as to who is behind the mysterious Delaware-based limited liability corporation that shelled over the cash. Nevada’s Sen. Harry Reid, the highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, has an inkling that it may be casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a highly sought after Republican donor and casino magnate in Vegas.
“We have a few rich people in Las Vegas, one of whom is well known, so we’ll see. And he owns newspapers in other places,” Reid told reporters Tuesday, seeming to reference newspapers in Israel that Adelson owns. An aide later confirmed to Politico that Reid suspects Adelson is the buyer.
Delaware is known to attract individuals and groups hoping to cover up their tracks, including money launderers and wealthy political donors looking to wield influence through anonymous donations to political organizations that can accept unlimited donations. In this case, the influence would come from outright ownership of a media source.
Control of the newspaper, which is one of the state’s largest, could play an important role in the 2016 Republican primary race, and, potentially, the general election as well. Nevada is the fourth state to vote in the nominating contests and could provide a necessary bump for a flailing campaign. The state has notoriously low voter turnout and Mitt Romney won more than 50 percent of the caucus vote in 2012 with just 16,486 votes, making the influence of a paper that much more important.
Adleson hasn’t yet chosen a presidential candidate to throw his weight behind, however it is widely suspected that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is on his shortlist. Businessman Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner who is self-funding his own campaign, has mocked Rubio for courting Adelson. Trump reportedly met with Adelson before Tuesday’s GOP debate.
Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2015
Adelson was the eighth most generous political donor in the 2014 midterm cycle, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, giving $5.5 million to conservative candidates or causes. During the last presidential cycle, 2012, Adelson was the top overall donor and gave $92.3 million, according to CRP data.