Sheldon Adelson now fighting a bribery probe after wasting over $150 million to buy Republicans
By Michael Collins Piper
For years, the name of international gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson—who, with his Israeli wife Miriam, is worth $20.5B—was known only among the monied elite of Wall Street, London and Tel Aviv (and in the inner circles of organized crime). Today, however, the Boston-born Adelson—who once famously described himself as “the richest Jew in the world”—is publicly hailed (or damned) as the Republican Party’s most munificent financial benefactor.
Said by Forbes magazine to be the 14th richest American—at the same time he’s publisher of the biggest daily newspaper in Israel—Adelson vowed earlier this year to spend $100M to guarantee Barack Obama’s reelection defeat.
In the end, Adelson and his wife—who split their time between Las Vegas and Israel—actually bankrolled the GOP cause through donations to a variety of so-called superPACs and non-profit groups to the tune of nearly $150M. This made Adelson the biggest single political donor in the United States during the 2012 election cycle.
And while Adelson is undoubtedly an avowed enemy of Obama, whose policies he says are a threat to Israel, the billionaire had another reason to oppose Obama. It turns out Adelson’s casino operations in Las Vegas and on the Chinese island of Macau are the subject of two separate criminal investigations by the Obama Justice Department, one involving money laundering in Las Vegas and the other relating to the bribery of Chinese officials in direct violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Right now Adelson is pulling strings through his GOP contacts in Washington in an effort to get the federal inquiries into his business associates shut down. Insiders say House Majority Leader and fellow Jew Eric Cantor (R-Va.)—a close Adelson friend—will be a valuable ally in the days ahead.
Initially, Adelson financed the presidential ambitions of Newt Gingrich, who was once investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for conspiring to accept a $10M bribe through an Israeli front group in Washington. But after Gingrich bowed out, Adelson switched his support to Mitt Romney who—like Adelson—has been a longtime close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Michael Collins Piper is an author, journalist, lecturer and radio show host. He has spoken in Russia, Malaysia, Iran, Abu Dhabi, Japan, Canada and the U.S.