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Meyer reports: "Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate and emblem of the Citizens United-era of campaign finance, spent gobs of money on the 2012 elections - more money than anyone else in American history."

Sheldon Adelson donated millions of dollars to opponents of President Obama. (photo: Reuters)
Sheldon Adelson donated millions of dollars to opponents of President Obama. (photo: Reuters)

How Much Did Sheldon Adelson Really Spend on Campaign 2012?

By Theodoric Meyer, ProPublica

24 December 12


heldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate and emblem of the Citizens United-era of campaign finance, spent gobs of money on the 2012 elections - more money than anyone else in American history.

Exactly how much, you ask?

We don't really know, and it's likely we never will. Many of the groups that spent the most on the election aren't required to report their donors. But thanks to recent campaign finance filings, we can get a better idea.

We dug through Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service records and found that Adelson and his wife, Miriam, spent at least $98 million this election cycle. The money went to at least 34 different candidates and groups, with contributions ranging from $2,000 for a Florida congressional candidate to $30 million for Restore Our Future, the super PAC that supported Mitt Romney.

Adelson also gave $20 million to Winning Our Future, a super PAC backing Newt Gingrich; $23 million to American Crossroads, a conservative super PAC; and $5 million each to the Congressional Leadership Fund and the YG Action Fund, both of which supported Republican candidates for Congress.

One of the more puzzling contributions was a $1 million check Adelson wrote in October. The money went to Hardworking Americans, a super PAC that attacked Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat who had a big lead in the polls and was re-elected three weeks later by a 21-point margin.

A spokesman for Adelson's company, Las Vegas Sands, did not respond to a request for comment.

The $98 million figure matches up with the $100 million that Adelson, who is worth a reported $21 billion, had vowed to spend to defeat President Obama. But it doesn't include the checks he wrote to "dark-money" groups - organizations that don't have to disclose their donors, making their spending harder to track. These groups have proliferated since the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the door to unlimited corporate and union giving.

The Huffington Post recently reported that Adelson's total spending may have approached $150 million.

Two anonymous Republican fundraisers told the Huffington Post that Adelson had given between $30 and $40 million to Crossroads GPS, the dark-money group founded by Karl Rove, and at least $15 million to groups affiliated with Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialist brothers. Adelson also gave millions to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Jewish Coalition, the fundraisers said.

If accurate, those numbers would place Adelson's total spending on the election at around $155 million.

Correction Dec. 21: The original version of this story overstated the amount of Sheldon and Miriam Adelson's election spending that can be tracked through public records. It is at least $98 million, not $101 million. The original story did not take into account a $5 million donation to the super PAC Winning Our Future that was refunded Miriam Adelson, which lowered their total spending, as well as several state-level contributions. your social media marketing partner


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+18 # Nell H 2012-12-24 23:18
Suppose the TV media formed a pact that they would not run ads from organizations that would not publish the sources of their money (source, amount)?

But, the TV media would not do that. It would be too patriotic.
+8 # newsmom 2012-12-25 07:15
it would never work. what WOULD work is a higher voter turnout, and a more responsible media community. the best source of real information comes increasingly through small online channels and a handful of progressive publications. sad, distressing, but true.
+4 # charsjcca 2012-12-25 10:34
Nell H: The strongest action is the boycott. But, as you said, we would not do that. Example. In 1963 the Congress of Racial Equality, West Coast unit, wanted to boycott Christmas. The East Coast leaders said no, we can not do that to our friends. Sheldon Adelson and his friends were their friends. If all progressives had chosen to leave the merchandise in the warehouses this season we would have accomplished our goal and avoided the 'fiscal cliff.' We , then would have money to spend on essentials. Boycotting the energy conglomerates is the way to create dynamics that will change the energy equation, government empower alternative energy initiatives. BOYCOTT, BOYCOTT!!!
+4 # Activista 2012-12-25 15:16
Agree - we support 1% by buying their crap on credit cards each year. We support USraeli wars by supporting politicians paid by military-indust rial complex. We have to drop from this Money Culture to save ourselves and the environment.
Boycott - save the Earth.
p.s. only statistically challenged goes to casino. Play in casino supports billionaire casino magnates and wars.
+6 # Douglas Jack 2012-12-25 21:17
Boycott is good but only as effective as positive pro-active local economy creation. Politics is the last step. If you want change, organize economically. Invest together with other stakeholders in your multihome dwellings, workplace, commerces & communities for ownership. Live simply so that others may simply live.

Become the change which you want to see in the world. When Gandhi worked on Indian liberation, every component (Spinning wheel for thread, looms for cloth, collective ashram housing, food, salt etc.) had economic organization. Marches were actually more celebration of 'Swaraj' (Hindi 'self-sufficien cy') accomplishments than lobbying for government or corporate change. Once mutual economy is developed, only then does political change come. Citizens & politicians are given a solid economic place in their communities to stand among fellows.
+13 # Virginia 2012-12-24 23:44
The real question is - how much did Sheldon lose? These guys don't think about spending - they think about bottom-line... Profit and loss.

Thank you Sheldon for throwing your money into the economy. Every dollar of advertising turns over at least twenty times. Not only did you lose - we gained your money back into our economy.
+4 # Activista 2012-12-25 15:19
Every dollar of advertising turns over at least twenty times?
And the bottom-line/cos t to American Taxpayer is $1 trillion worth of wars in the Middle East each year for greater Israel!
+5 # Activista 2012-12-24 23:49
Thank you for the article - please post in detail ALL the organizations and individuals the "gambling mobster" supports. It will be perfect black list whom to boycott.
Like in our small town - when too lazy to investigate that I do not vote for any robbers I check Bob businessman signs - never missed yet.
+23 # Regina 2012-12-25 02:26
i00+/- million? Mr. and Mrs. Adelson will never miss it, that paltry sum is peanut shells to them. They'll make it back in a holiday week's worth of gambling patrons. They live in an alternate universe. Like the Romneys, the only contact they have with the real world of real people is in their contacts with their hired help.
+24 # Wyntergreen 2012-12-25 03:06
Just think of all the good he could have done with that money.
+2 # Tazio 2012-12-26 22:05
Spending $100 million to prove that the Republican philosophy is bankrupt seems like a boon.
+12 # Big Jake 2012-12-25 05:56
Adelson is reflective of what is wrong with our nation. The gift of our Republic is being perverted by the profound effect money. It is not just campaign contributions as bad as they are; it is the influence that they have utilized in Washington in the establishment of the "rules". They win and we lose. Most are not really great businessmen at all. They have bought their positions. They have set the rules to give them privilege. That privilege is what has been impoverishing us for decades, slowly but surely. Many of us still believe that if we work hard enough, we will rise to the top too. Sort of the American Dream. However, like in Europe, few places at the table exist and the door is really closed and we just can't quite see it. If we are to take back the Republic, I assert that we should start with campaign laws. Enact a Constitutional Amendment that allows any amount of money to be contributed by whomever is eligible to vote in that particular race. End of story. The playing field has been leveled and a new generation of political leaders will emerge.
+7 # Activista 2012-12-25 15:24
"Constitutional Amendment that allows any amount of money to be contributed by whomever is eligible to vote in that particular race"?
I see exact opposite - limited amount - like tax return for each voter. Get money out of the politics - stop US military oligarchy.
+10 # Bruce Gruber 2012-12-25 06:05
And if they continue to 'pack' the House eventually that rider on so many Republican bills will allow them to bring 'home' the billions of stashed overseas income without having to pay ANY taxes, let alone 39%.
+4 # HerbR 2012-12-25 10:18
has he not discovered yet that his efforts were entirely counter-prodcti ve ?
+2 # stu 2012-12-25 13:58
he still is the voice that is heard in Washington on Israel - Palestinian negotiation.
+2 # Activista 2012-12-25 15:27
we are sending to Israel over $3 billions per year and including billions in US defense budget that benefits Israel - not USA foreign policies.
Iraq war costs trillions - Iran war will cost much more. US is broke by militarism.
+3 # maddave 2012-12-25 18:04
My question does not concern money flowing to Israel but rather how much dark, unaccountable & unreported money did Israel (and others) invest in attempts to influence our recent elections?
+1 # swissms 2012-12-26 03:26
Adelson is worth $21 billion? I find that level of wealth truly obscene! There isn't a scenario that I can imagine where someone could earn that kind of money through legitimate work. In other words, something must be desperately wrong with our system if it allows this much money to end up in one man's hands. The good news is that he (and others) have hopefully learned that simply throwing money at elections may not be enough to win them, even if we are talking about $100 million.
0 # Cassandra2012 2013-01-03 14:47
Hmm. aren't the four Walmart heirs the top four wealthiest trillionaires in the country?
Reported in Forbes?
+2 # Bruce Gruber 2012-12-26 12:55
IF the 'average' American cannot be trusted such that location, movement and content of his/her private communications are subject to computerized collection, utilization, and 'interpretation ' by fraidy cats, bureaucrats and profiteers

THEN why should the investment of large amounts of cash to purchase influence and manipulate politics in a democratic republic enjoy secrecy and protection from public scrutiny?

I was raised to believe that bribery, graft and influence peddling were symptomatic of criminal intent and immorality.

Or do these imprimaturs only exist for the lesser among us ... like five years for stealing a pack of cigarettes but golden parachutes for CEOs who destroy trillions of dollars of retirement funds?
+2 # garylynd 2012-12-27 13:44
Adelson is worth over $20B. His donation of $100M amounts to less than five- thousandths of his wealth.

If your net worth was $1M, then it would be an easy business decision to spend $5,000 to attempt buy a president, Congress, and state government that could keep you out of jail and make you a lot richer.

The root problem is not just money in politics, but also the vast disparities of wealth in our society.

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