Casino magnate and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson is plotting a spending blitz to support President Donald Trump with just under 50 days to go until Election Day, CNBC has learned.
Adelson, CEO of Las Vegas Sands, is looking to spend around $20 million to $50 million in a last-ditch effort to help Trump overcome Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the matter.
Most of the money is expected to go toward the new pro-Trump super PAC, Preserve America, these people added. Other organizations, including the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and groups helping Republicans in Congress, could also see some of Adelson’s money.
One of the people noted that Adelson’s team has recently been in touch with GOP officials close to Trump about where best to deploy the cash. Another person noted that Adelson was a major donor who helped get Preserve America up and running. The people declined to be named as these efforts are private.
Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and presidential candidate, announced Sunday that he planned to spend $100 million in Florida in the coming weeks to support Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential candidacy.
The announcement also followed criticism from within the Democratic Party — in spite of a huge $18 million transfer to the Democratic National Committee this spring — that Mr. Bloomberg had not delivered on his promise to put the full weight of his fortune behind the general-election effort to defeat Mr. Trump.
The commitment in Florida, while enormous for a one-state program, represents a significant pullback from the promises made by some Bloomberg advisers during primary season. Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign manager, Kevin Sheekey, had told Democrats privately that if Mr. Bloomberg were not the nominee he would form a new super PAC and mount an enormous effort against Mr. Trump in the country’s biggest swing states.
The cert petition in Lieu v. FEC is designed to get the Supreme Court to address an issue addressed by the D.C. Circuit in the earlier SpeechNow case but never addressed by the Supreme Court: is it constitutional for Congress to limit contributions to political committees that make only independent expenditures (so-called super pacs)? Some heavy hitters on the cert petition, and a number of amicus briefs urging cert., including one from legal scholars and one from political scientists.
I’m extremely skeptical that the Court would take this case (because a majority would agree with the D.C. Circuit in SpeechNow was right that the limits on contributions to super PACs are unconstitutional). And if the Court took the case, I believe it would only make campaign finance law even more deregulatory.
I say all this as someone who has written extensively that the Court’s current campaign finance jurisprudence is wrong, and that such limits should be constitutional. But I cannot imagine this Court agreeing. There’s no Justice among the conservatives who seems to swing even a bit on these issues.
Michael R. Bloomberg put more than $200 million of his personal fortune into his presidential campaign by the end of December, with the overwhelming bulk of that sum going to a mammoth advertising campaign on television and online, according to Mr. Bloomberg’s first campaign finance disclosure with the Federal Election Commission.
But Mr. Bloomberg’s wealth financed a huge array of campaign expenditures, many of them unusual or unheard-of for candidates of normal means, including millions of dollars in polling before Mr. Bloomberg even entered the race; $1.5 million for office space; about $700,000 for rental apartments for campaign staff; and nearly as much on travel by private jet.
The figure comes as little surprise to those who have tracked Mr. Bloomberg’s television advertising, and the total price tag for his candidacy has soared far higher in the month since the end of the reporting period. But the filing on Friday is the most detailed description yet of how Mr. Bloomberg has deployed his personal fortune in a quest for the presidency that only started in late November.
Since then, Mr. Bloomberg has climbed into the high single digits in national polls, largely on the strength of an onslaught of campaign commercials with no precedent in Democratic politics.
One of the important findings from yesterday’s major CFI Report on campaign finance that has gone unnoticed so far is that Citizens United did not lead to a significant increase in election spending by publicly-traded corporations. As the introduction to the report puts it:
The case did indeed increase the importance of independent expenditures. However, the much-predicted explosion in spending by large, publicly traded corporations just has not happened. This is consistent with what political scientists have known for years about the way most corporations prefer to engage in electoral politics.
As the report indicates, at the time Citizens United was decided, many of us predicted that the decision would not lead to a dramatic increase in election spending from publicly-traded corporations. But you wouldn’t know this hasn’t happened from much of the public and political commentary, which conflates the dramatic increase in independent spending funded by wealthy individuals with inaccurate claims about “corporate spending” that Citizens United supposedly unleashed.
Billionaire Republican donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson gave $500,000 to a legal defense fund set up to help aides to President Donald Trump that are involved in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The Adelsons each contributed $250,000 on Oct. 1 to the Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust, which was set up last year to help campaign aides pay for legal bills related to the investigation. The donation came during the height of the midterm elections, when the Adelsons were also the largest contributors to the Republican Party’s political campaigns and committees, shelling out more than $100 million in support of GOP candidates.
But Adelson’s Presidential Medal of Freedom — which liberals are mocking as an award for the $113 million Adelson and her billionaire casino mogul husband, Sheldon Adelson, contributed to conservative candidates, super PACs and other political committees during the 2018 midterm elections — comes as some Republicans are fretting about the party’s reliance on a handful of aging billionaires.
Several prominent Republican fundraisers and major donors confirmed the GOP is both concerned about keeping current megadonors giving and cultivating a new crop of major bankrollers.
“There’s no next generation of financial leadership on the bench,” said one Republican strategist involved in raising large contributions, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly.
And some donors and party fundraisers say it’s time for the Republican Party to broaden its donor base beyond the super-rich and move away from a fundraising model that requires a lot of personal contact. Many point to the success Democrats have had raising money online.
Fifty-six rich election donors have poured at least $2 million each into super PAC groups this election season, more than double the level in the 2014 midterms and a record for any midterm election, according to a report (PDF) by Public Citizen. Contributions to super PACs from these 56 individuals add up to nearly $481 million spent by the wealthiest Americans to influence our elections.
The biggest individual contributor is Republican casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who has provided more than $112 million to super PACs so far this year, followed far behind by Democratic donor Tom Steyer at about $50 million and Republican donor Richard Uihlein at nearly $37 million.
Additionally, the top five contributors have spent more than $251 million to influence the 2018 midterms, and since 2012, these billionaires have spent more than $700 million to influence elections.
Justin Elliott for ProPublica:
After decades as a major Republican donor, Adelson is known as an ideological figure, motivated by his desire to influence U.S. policy to help Israel. “I’m a one-issue person. That issue is Israel,” he said last year. On that issue — Israel — Trump has delivered. The administration has slashed funding for aid to Palestinian refugees and scrapped the Iran nuclear deal. Attending the recent opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, Adelson seemed to almost weep with joy, according to an attendee.
But his reputation as an Israel advocate has obscured a through-line in his career: He has used his political access to push his financial self-interest. Not only has Trump touted Sands’ interests in Japan, but his administration also installed an executive from the casino industry in a top position in the U.S. embassy in Tokyo. Adelson’s influence reverberates through this administration. Cabinet-level officials jump when he calls. One who displeased him was replaced. He has helped a friend’s company get a research deal with the Environmental Protection Agency. And Adelson has already received a windfall from Trump’s new tax law, which particularly favored companies like Las Vegas Sands. The company estimated the benefit of the law at $1.2 billion.
Tom Steyer, the billionaire investor and Democratic activist, has directed his political operation to spend more than $5 million aiding Andrew Gillum’s campaign for governor of Florida, an enormous investment that will test whether fired-up Democratic voters can flip control of a state long dominated by Republicans.
The campaign between Mr. Gillum, who is the progressive mayor of Tallahassee, and Representative Ron DeSantis, a conservative lawmaker who has aligned himself closely with the White House, has become one of the clearest contests of strength nationwide between the Democratic Party’s rising liberal wing and the Republican Party as President Trump has reshaped it.
The return on investment for many of the Republican Party’s biggest political patrons has been less than impressive this year. But not for Sheldon Adelson.
Mr. Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate, and his wife, Miriam, a physician, have emerged as the biggest and potentially most influential contributors to Republicans in the midterm season. Despite initially harboring qualms about President Trump’s leadership, the Adelsons have found much to like in a Republican-controlled government that has aligned with their most cherished priorities: unflinchingly pro-Israel, unaccommodating to Middle Eastern adversaries and dedicated to deregulation and lower taxes.
Mr. Adelson in particular enjoys a direct line to the president. In private in-person meetings and phone conversations, which occur between the two men about once a month, he has used his access to push the president to move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and, more recently, cut aid to the Palestinians, according to people familiar with their discussions, who spoke anonymously to discuss private matters. Mr. Trump has done both, triggering a backlash from some American allies.
Republican control of the House and the Senate is so vital to maintaining these policies, the Adelsons believe, that they have given $55 million in the last few months to groups dedicated to making sure it stays that way. That makes them not only the largest donors to national Republican electoral efforts in this election cycle, but the biggest spenders on federal elections in all of American politics, according to publicly available campaign finance data.