Elections

Adelsons plan to hold off donations backing Trump until late in 2020 election cycle

Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the largest Republican donors in 2016, plan to hold off on significantly contributing to President Donald Trump’s reelection effort until well into the 2020 election cycle, sources said.

Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate who is chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., wants to avoid setting public expectations early in the cycle that the president’s reelection bid is fully funded by megadonors, sources close to Adelson told McClatchy.

Adelson, 85, and his wife, Miriam, have grown personally close to Trump during his first term in office, watching midterm election returns with the president and dining with him at the White House. Trump awarded Miriam Adelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom late last year.

The Adelsons had pressed Trump early in his presidency to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the U.S. embassy there, two policy moves the president announced in 2017.

“They’re still very committed to the president and I don’t see that wavering,” one of the sources said. “The way it is with anything, if people think someone else is going to pay all the bills, there’s not a lot of incentive to give. They want to see other people giving.”

The Trump team is not having a difficult time raising money, the source said. “There’s no shortage of super donors on either side now.”

The Adelsons contributed a combined total of $10 million to the pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, Inc., in 2018, placing them among the top donors to the group. However, the PAC spent most of the money it raised in 2018 backing Republican House and Senate candidates in more than 20 different races.

They are among the most prolific Republican donors in the country. In 2016, the couple gave $20 million to a different pro-Trump super PAC, Future45, as well as more than $60 million to other federal political committees and candidates.

In 2012, the couple gave $53 million to two super PACs supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The majority of their giving to the pro-Trump and pro-Romney super PACs came in the final weeks of each election.

The Trump campaign itself is well-funded at this stage. Campaign officials promoted a $125 million haul in the third quarter of 2019 as part of a joint effort with the Republican National Committee, and while most of that money went to the national party, $41 million went directly to Trump’s campaign, which had $83 million in the bank at the end of that quarter.

Sheldon Adelson is still recovering from cancer treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that his spokesman first acknowledged in March.

Michael Wilner joined McClatchy as its White House correspondent in 2019. He previously served as Washington bureau chief for The Jerusalem Post, where he led coverage of the Iran nuclear talks, the Syrian refugee crisis and the 2016 US presidential campaign. Wilner holds degrees from Claremont McKenna College and Columbia University and is a native of New York City.
Ben Wieder is a data reporter in McClatchy’s Washington bureau. He worked previously at the Center for Public Integrity and Stateline. His work has been honored by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, National Press Foundation, Online News Association and Association of Health Care Journalists.
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