Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has consummated his new alliance with presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney by donating $10 million to Restore Our Future, a super PAC backing Romney’s candidacy.
Adelson, a Dorchester native, has been the most generous donor of the presidential election, but none of the $25.3 million he and his wife, Miriam, had given to conservative candidates and committees through April had gone toward aiding Romney. In fact, most of Adelson’s money had been directed at a super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich, one of Romney’s GOP primary opponents.
But with the former House speaker out of the race, Adelson met with Romney late last month in Las Vegas and pledged to back him. The $10 million gift to Restore Our Future, reported first by The Wall Street Journal, is the first fulfillment of Adelson’s promise.
Adelson, who is Jewish, reportedly wanted assurance that Romney would support Israel more strongly than President Obama. Over the years, Adelson has given $100 million to Taglit-Birthright Israel, which sponsors trips to Israel for young Jews.
The chief executive of resort-casino giant Las Vegas Sands is worth almost $25 billion, according to Forbes magazine, a sum that makes him the nation’s seventh-richest person.
In 2008, Adelson donated $30 million to the independent-expenditure group Freedom’s Watch—regarded as a conservative answer to MoveOn.org—and he reportedly plans to spend as much as $100 million during this election season.
Having a spendthrift like Adelson in his corner is a big win for Romney, who is relying on independent conservative groups like Restore Our Future to counter the campaign fund-raising lead held by President Obama.
Romney’s joint fund-raising committee topped Obama’s by almost $17 million in May, according to totals released early by the two campaigns, and the Romney campaign reportedly made a $3.3 million ad buy this week, its largest of the general election.
But one victorious month is hardly enough to make up for the president’s significant overall advantage. Through April, Obama had $115.2 million cash on hand, compared to Romney’s $9.2 million. Updated figures that reflect May fund-raising will become public on June 20.
Alone, Adelson’s $10 million gift to Restore Our Future almost matches the total raised by Priorities USA Action, the leading pro-Obama super PAC, through April. Restore Our Future, meanwhile, had already collected $56.5 million through April.
Restore Our Future and a legion of other conservative groups—including Americans for Prosperity, run by billionaire petroleum moguls David and Charles Koch, and the Karl Rove-led American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS—have said they plan to spend a combined $1 billion by Election Day.
Adelson and Romney make an odd pair. Gambling, the foundation of Adelson’s empire, is condemned by Romney’s Mormon church. Romney told a Las Vegas television station in February that he opposes legal online poker because gambling is addictive and potentially ruinous for participants.
But Romney abided the state lottery and other forms of gambling as Massachusetts governor and even said he was open to the construction of a casino in the state.
After years of debate, the state Legislature approved casino gambling last fall, opening the door to as many as three gaming centers. Adelson, who spent almost $500,000 lobbying for casino approval, said last month that he will not seek a license in Massachusetts.