Dr. Miriam Adelsdon, the Tel Aviv-born wife of GOP megadonor and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, is actually “far wealthier” than her husband, the Guardian reported Monday.
In a profile in the British daily’s Ford Foundation-funded Big Money series, for which it said Adelson declined to be interviewed, the Guardian noted that while Sheldon Adelson appeared in 21st place on Forbes magazine’s 2018 billionaire list, and Miriam “appears nowhere,” she directly controls a 41.6% stake — currently worth $17.4 billion — in their Las Vegas Sands Corp casino company, compared to his 10%. Her overall financial assets, it added, “make Miriam wealthier than a number of the world’s richest men, including Rupert Murdoch and Charles Schwab.”
Miriam Adelson, 73, is “the driver in the couple’s political and philanthropic activities, whether pushing for the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv or donating an unprecedented $113m to this year’s midterm elections,” the Guardian report claimed.
“Everybody says it’s Sheldon, but it’s Miriam,” it quoted Michael Cherry, associate chief justice of the Nevada supreme court and a board member of the Adelsons’-founded Las Vegas methadone clinic, as saying.
The article also reported, citing Federal election records, that Sheldon Adelson’s first political donation was, ironically, a sum of $1,000, in 1984, to what turned out to be the successful campaign of then-US Senate Democratic candidate from Massachusetts, John Kerry.
Adelson, 85, subsequently became the biggest donor in US politics, to the Republicans, and was the biggest donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Republican Party in 2016. He was a leading opponent of the deal that Kerry, as secretary of state to president Barack Obama, negotiated with Iran over its rogue nuclear program, gave donations last year to Republican candidates who opposed the deal, and has been widely credited as a key player in Trump’s decision to withdraw from the accord.
Miriam Adelson’s first US political contributions, from 1991, were also to Democrats, the Guardian reported. Nowadays, the couple equally match each other’s donations, it said: “One of the few outward hints of Miriam’s powerful role comes with the couple’s his-and-hers political contributions – made to the same candidates and causes, in identical amounts.” For instance, when they “gave $30 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, dedicated to electing Republicans to the US House of Representatives, last May, it was $15m from him and $15m from her.”
Miriam Adelson last summer became publisher of Israel Hayom, the most-read newspaper in Israel, a generally pro-Netanyahu free daily that was founded by the Adelsons and that, the Guardian said, “she owns.”
Last November, US President Donald Trump presented Adelson with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Recognizing her medical and philanthropic work, the president lauded her for funding substance abuse centers and pro-Israel projects, including Birthright. “To protect the sacred heritage of the Jewish faith, Miriam and Sheldon have supported Jewish schools, Holocaust memorial organizations, and helped Jewish Americans visit the Holy Land,” Trump said during a reception in the White House’s East Room.
“A medical doctor, Miriam has dedicated her life to fighting addiction, something we’re all becoming all too familiar with,” Trump said at one point. The president’s brother Fred died young because of his alcoholism.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2018
The Guardian piece, too, noted that “politics are by no means the Adelsons’ main preoccupation,” citing her founding of an addiction treatment clinic in Tel Aviv in 1993 and of the Las Vegas clinic seven years later, where it said she herself sometimes treats patients.
“Raising their two sons in Las Vegas, the Adelsons have also given an estimated $100m to turn the region’s Hebrew day school into a preschool-through-12th-grade institution,” it said. The school maintains a stringent no-drugs policy, the report said, requiring all students and employees to undergo random drug testing three or four times a year. Miriam does some of the testing herself, according to school communications director Matt Boland. “Those who fail a test are privately counseled, with education about the physical and mental effect of drugs,” the report said.
Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report.