American Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson is reportedly set to give presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump a campaign donation that could exceed $100 million, making it the largest contribution the casino magnate would have given to a GOP candidate.
According to two Republicans with direct knowledge of the commitment to Trump who spoke to the New York Times, Adelson has told Trump “that he was willing to contribute more to help elect him than he has to any previous campaign, a sum that could exceed $100 million.”
Adelson and his wife Miriam met with Trump and his campaign manager at a hotel in Manhattan last week while the presidential candidate was in town for a gala dinner hosted by the World Values Network, an organization whose mission is to disseminate Jewish values in the political, cultural and media spheres, based on the teachings of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
In the conversation, according to the New York Times, Trump stressed to the Adelsons that he was committed to Israel’s security. “Mr. Trump assured the Adelsons that he was dedicated to protecting Israel’s security, an issue about which the couple are passionate,” the Times said. The Adelsons are major supporters of Israel and of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, funding Israel’s most-read newspaper Israel Hayom, a pro-Netanyahu daily.
On Friday, Adelson formally endorsed Trump, citing fears about Iran and Trump’s experience as a CEO.
“You may not like Trump’s style or what he says on Twitter, but this country needs strong executive leadership more today than at almost any point in its history,” said Adelson in an Op-Ed which appeared on the Washington Post’s website early Friday. “The world is less secure than ever, and our allies have lost confidence in our ability to lead.”
The two Republicans who spoke anonymously to the Times, and who are familiar with Adelson’s plans, also said the billionaire has decided to significantly scale back his contributions to congressional Republicans and wants to direct his funds to groups that will help Trump get elected president later this year.
Adelson’s decision would come as a blow to Republican congressional candidates and super PACs dedicated to keeping the House and the Senate under GOP control.
To give such a large sum to Trump, Adelson will have to go to “Super PACs” which are able to accept large donations, after giving Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee the maximum allowed under law.
According to the New York Times report on Saturday, Adelson has not yet decided which super PAC to give the bulk of the contributions to.
In 2012, Adelson gave some $98 million to Republican efforts to win the presidency, with the funds going to some 34 different campaigns and groups, according to a ProPublica study cited by the Times.
Trump, a billionaire himself, has relied mostly on his own wealth and small contributions to fund his campaign and has criticized opponents for using super PACs, charging that the were “bought” by rich donors.
The billionaire candidate recently changed tack, hiring a national finance chairman, scheduling his first fundraiser and was on the cusp of signing a deal with the Republican Party that would enable him to solicit donations of more than $300,000 apiece from supporters.
A general election campaign can easily run up a $1 billion tab. For the primary race, Trump spent a tiny fraction of that amount — he’s estimated $50 million of his own money, plus about $12 million from donors who sought his campaign out on their own.
Trump told The Associated Press in an interview this week that he will spend minimally on a data operation that can help identify and turn out voters. And he’s betting that the media’s coverage of his rallies and celebrity personality will reduce his need for pricey television advertising.
Yet he acknowledged that the general-election campaign may cost “a lot.”
Adelson had been hesitant to settle on an endorsee this election after his experience in 2012, when his financial backing kept his friend Newt Gingrich in the race, forcing Mitt Romney, the then front-runner, to spend a lot of money early in the primary season. Adelson and his wife Miriam spent at least $20 million on political action committees backing Gingrich. Romney campaign veterans now say that expenditure was crippling when the former Massachusetts governor faced then-Sen. Barack Obama in the general election, although the Adelsons backed Romney when he secured the nomination.
Trump has stoked concerns among some Republican Jews because of his Israel posture – he made, and then seemed to walk back, a pledge to stay neutral when it came to negotiating Israeli-Palestinian peace, and he has said he would make Israel pay for US defense assistance.
“For nearly eight years, Republicans have fought tooth and nail against President Obama and his policies,” Adelson said in the op-ed.
“We waged battles over debt, government spending, Obamacare and the Iran nuclear deal — an issue of paramount importance to me personally and to many others around the world … If Republicans do not come together in support of Trump, Obama will essentially be granted something the Constitution does not allow — a third term in the name of Hillary Clinton.”
Adelson said Trump’s experience running a real estate business brought what was needed to the table.
“He is a candidate with actual CEO experience, shaped and molded by the commitment and risk of his own money rather than the public’s,” he said. “He is a CEO success story that exemplifies the American spirit of determination, commitment to cause and business stewardship.”
Adelson has for weeks indicated that the GOP establishment should rally around Trump now that he is the presumptive nominee and Israel Hayom has recently shifted to flattering coverage of Trump, but this was Adelson’s boldest statement yet.
The casino magnate finished with a tough warning for the growing number of Republicans who say they will not vote for Trump.
“Some Republicans are sitting on the sidelines, threatening to stay home on Election Day or, worse, suggesting they will vote for Clinton,” he said. “They must realize the stakes are too high for an outcome that will have a damaging impact on our country.”
Adelson had informally indicated last week he would support Trump for the US presidency.
“Yes. I’m a Republican, he’s a Republican,” Adelson said at a Manhattan event when asked if he would back Trump, according to The New York Times. “He’s our nominee. Whoever the nominee would turn out to be, any one of the 17 — he was one of the 17. He won fair and square.”
The Jewish billionaire said he believed Trump “will be good for Israel,” and noted, without elaborating, that the two spoke recently.
Adelson had previously declared Trump to be “very charming” after meeting him in December, but stopped short of endorsing him or supporting his campaign. Trump has prided himself in his campaign speeches on not needing the support of mega-donors like Adelson, whom other candidates, at the time, were assiduously courting.
In October, Trump tweeted “Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!”