Miriam Adelson among the major GOP donors to back Trump after felony conviction

Israeli-American casino billionaire to reportedly help fund super PAC that she and her late husband Sheldon Adelson gave $90 million in 2020; Bill Ackman also weighing endorsement

President Donald Trump awards Miriam Adelson, the wife of Las Vegas Sands Corporation Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson and Republican mega donor the Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Then US president Donald Trump awards Miriam Adelson the Medal of Freedom during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, November 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Major Republican donors rallied behind Donald Trump on Thursday, pledging millions of dollars to support the first convicted felon running for US president on a tumultuous day for his election campaign.

A New York jury found Trump guilty on Thursday of falsifying documents to cover up a payment to silence a porn star ahead of the 2016 election.

Many conservative donors already viewed the New York hush money cash as political persecution, echoing the Republican presidential candidate’s claim that Democrats are trying to weaken him ahead of the November 5 election against Democratic US President Joe Biden. Prosecutors have dismissed those claims as untrue.

In a flurry of support on Thursday, mega donors including Israeli-American casino billionaire Miriam Adelson and hotelier Robert Bigelow lined up behind Trump, with their donations set to bolster a wave of pro-Trump ads, door-knocking and phone banking in battleground states.

Adelson, the widow of Sheldon Adelson, will donate to Preserve America, according to US media reports, which said it was unclear how much she would give.

The stalwart pro-Israel couple gave the super PAC $90 million during the 2020 presidential election, in which they were among Trump’s biggest donors. They also backed Trump during the 2016 election and were leading advocates of moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation Sheldon Adelson, center, and his wife Miriam arrive ahead of the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. (AFP/Menahem KAHANA)

The verdict also spurred some longtime Trump donors to boost their financial support for Trump — and, in at least one case, make a big donation to him for the first time.

Robert Bigelow, who is one of Trump’s top supporters having already given over $9 million to an outside group supporting him, said criminal proceedings against Trump were a “disgrace.”

“I’m sending President Trump another $5 million as I promised him,” Bigelow told Reuters.

Don Tapia, a former Trump ambassador to Jamaica, said he and a small network of family and friends with whom he donates had planned to give around $250,000 this election to support Trump.

After Thursday’s conviction, Tapia told Reuters the group would aim to give over $1 million to the pro-Trump spending group MAGA Inc in coming weeks.

“We’re going to go all-in for him,” said Tapia. He sent Reuters a photo of an American flag flying upside down outside his home in Paradise Valley, Arizona to protest the verdict.

A Silicon Valley tech investor, Shaun Maguire, posted on social media site X after the verdict that he had donated $300,000 to support Trump.

“I believe our justice system is being weaponized against him,” said Maguire, who described himself as a former Hillary Clinton supporter who switched to supporting Trump in 2021 after the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Maguire told Reuters he had not previously donated to Trump.

Former US president Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump Tower, May 31, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

The interviews with Reuters and a cross section of other views show the depth of Trump’s donor support despite his legal woes, suggesting he will retain significant financial firepower against Biden including from Wall Street, tech and the oil sector.

Polls also propelling donors

The donors interviewed by Reuters were also broadly upbeat about Trump winning in November based on a number of public opinion polls that put Trump ahead against Biden in some battleground states.

“I think that big donors are paying attention to the polls, not the verdict,” said oil businessman Dan Eberhart, a Trump donor who also helps raise money for the former president’s campaign. “The polls are motivating this latest round of businessmen,” Eberhart added, saying that calls from donors had picked up “considerably.”

After setting out with a fundraising disadvantage against Biden, Trump for the first time in April outraised his Democratic rival, aided by fundraising events across the country.

Andy Sabin, a metals businessman and Republican donor who supported three different candidates in the Republican presidential primary before settling on voting for Trump but has not donated to him so far, does not see the verdict having an impact.

“I haven’t met one donor yet that gives a shit about the trial. No matter how much they hate Trump, they think he’s getting screwed,” said Sabin, who regularly attends fundraisers and is donating to congressional candidates.

Trump can absolutely win the election, Sabin added, “as long as he keeps his mouth shut.”

In the last few weeks, Trump has hit the fundraising trail hard, hosting high-end events from Texas to New York. He is due to host three fundraisers in California next month, according to invitations seen by Reuters, including one in left-wing San Francisco hosted by tech venture capitalists.

File: Bill Ackman, investor, watches as Emma Raducanu of Great Britain plays against Maria Sakkari of Greece during their Women’s Singles semifinals match on Day Eleven of the 2021 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City, on September 09, 2021. (Elsa/Getty Images/AFP)

Wall Street has also warmed to Trump, with billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman considering endorsing Trump, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

“Every event that I’m involved with is exceeding budget,” said George Glass, a Trump fundraiser and his former ambassador to Portugal. “Most donors feel like the ‘fix’ is in,” Glass said about legal proceedings against Trump.

Some Republican donors do remain holdouts, put off by the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, Trump’s brash attitude or the prospect of Trump being sentenced to jail. “I’m on the sidelines,” said one donor unsure about whether to donate, mostly because of the “drama” around Trump.

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