Adelson Spending $100 Million for GOP Control of Senate

Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate whose net worth is more than $36 billion, is going to spend $100 million this year — in a midterm election, for crying out loud — with the goal of giving Republicans control of the Senate. Add that to all the money the Koch brothers and other conservative billionaires are spending.

Since Citizens United, Adelson has been aggressively cultivated by streams of high-powered Washington visitors—and others—looking for fat checks in the last two elections. This year’s competition for Adelson’s wallet has been intense and involved new twists as rival groups who share many of the same goals vie for the most loot.

A spokesman for Adelson declined to comment on this year’s donations. But Andy Abboud, Adelson’s top political aide, has denied that Adelson planned to spend $100 million on Senate races, saying that “there is no set budget for this cycle. More importantly, any group that meets with us and leaks any information true or untrue gets cut off.” CNN first reported the $100 million spending figure this summer and suggested that it was Senate-related.

Although Adelson’s publicly disclosed donations to date are far short of $100 million, sources say he should end up near that figure through his dark-money operations.

Americans for Prosperity, the flagship of the Koch brothers’ far-flung donor network, is expected to spend close to $125 million this year, and seems to be one of the casino tycoon’s favored dark-money outfits this cycle. Adelson has been increasing his ties to AFP and the Koch network since 2012, the year Adelson attended his first Koch donor conference. These hush-hush confabs are typically held twice a year at posh resorts, and are attended by a few hundred rich conservatives, along with a select group of GOP stars from Congress and the states.

Adelson chipped in at least $15 million to AFP in 2012, say operatives, and has a few links with the grassroots advocacy group that was founded in 2004 by the Koch brothers. Famously known for his hawkish Middle East views, Adelson has nonetheless bonded with the libertarian-leaning Koch network—which is often critical of excessive Pentagon spending and foreign entanglements—on a range of domestic issues like lower taxes, less regulation, and broadly shared commitments to other GOP principles.

Those ties appear to be growing stronger. Adelson aide Andy Abboud attended at least one of this year’s semi-annual Koch conferences for its wealthy allies and is quite active with AFP, according to two conservatives familiar with the Koch network. At the January Koch conference in the Palm Springs area, Abboud led a discussion that drew many wealthy donors, say two attendees.

“Andy is very active with AFP,” one donor who went to the Koch conference told me, adding that he expects Adelson’s total funding of AFP will be higher than in 2012.

Other signs of the closer ties between Adelson and the Koch conservative network have been noticeable this year. Tim Phillips, the president of AFP, flew into Las Vegas in late March to attend the annual spring event for the Republican Jewish Coalition that was held at Adelson’s Sands. According to RJC members there, Phillips was a guest of AFP Ohio leader Eli Miller, an RJC member and an ex-aide to House Speaker John Boehner. And Adam Stryker, who just a few years ago was part of Adelson’s government affairs team at the Sands, is now chief technology officer for the AFP Foundation, a post he assumed this year after doing a stint as head of the AFP’s Nevada chapter.

He’s also expected to give tens of millions of dollars to Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS organization. This is how our elections, and thus our politicians, are bought and sold to the highest bidder.

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  • dhall

    So glad the Supreme Court fixed this for us . . .

  • Stephen “DarkSyde” Andrew

    A couple of years ago I was trolling around the House office building in DC and stumbled into a congressperson’s office where they had several card tables set up with half a dozen young looking repubs at each with laptops open and hammering away. They were posting comments on articles of interest posing as legit readers, but it was sophisticated and well organized. I have no doubt some of the zillions money Adelson and the Kochtopus are spending this cycle goes to those same kinds of efforts. But there’s also a nice wingnut cottage industry that takes these guys for every cent they can get and doesn’t do much with it other than to try and appear like they’re doing something to justify asking for more.

  • parasiteboy

    Maybe Harry Reid will rethink his defence of Sheldon Adelson’s political spending after he looses the senate.

  • regexp

    Yes but is the money actually doing anything? It didn’t in the last election. I suppose we will finally learn in 2016.

  • AsqJames

    the grassroots advocacy group that was founded in 2004 by the Koch brothers

    Just run that one by me again.

  • Modusoperandi

    Yes, Adeleson’s putting a ton of money in to this, but he’s a special issues funder. He only cares about protecting his Free Market, using the State to prevent others from entering it, and absolute and unquestioning support of Israel’s worst instincts. So, clearly, he’s a poor match for the Republicans, who only agree with him on three of those issues.


    The real dangerous billionaire funders are the ones who fund candidates that will support favored industries, do nothing to prevent monopoly, and help promote permanent, low level war n the Middle East.

  • Michael Heath

    The linked article states:

    . . . Adelson has nonetheless bonded with the libertarian-leaning Koch network—which is often critical of excessive Pentagon spending and foreign entanglements . .

    The foreign policy positions of modern-day libertarians with power is almost always presented in a manner that misinforms rather than informs. It’s true some powerful libertarians make the case for policy that’s more in line with the Democratic party and not with the GOP.

    But these powerful libertarians don’t commit enormous resources electing candidates that agree with them on foreign policy (or social issues), or spending money influencing the public to agree with them on their foreign policy planks either. They certainly invest in politicians and policies when it comes to matters that has government policy serving their financial interests at the expense of the global economy and other people’s freedom.

    You also don’t see politicians owned by powerful libertarian interests acting consistently based on how these libertarians pose on foreign policy. That while we do observe these same politicians cowardly pandering to libertarian interests on domestic policy related to economics, even if it’s known to be catastrophic if they won. That to the point these politicians actively lie in order to create false premises supportive of libertarian policies. E.g., arguing against the reality of AGW, claiming government never creates jobs, and arguing for contractionary policies where these policies instead only serve the narrow industry interests paying them to make their false case – at the expense of the economy.

    The same holds true for social issues. Powerful libertarians abstractly argue for liberty, while remaining energetically animated towards issues other than social ones.

    This is one of the lessons we learned in Kindergarten. Follow what people do as a check on what they say. From this perspective the supposed positions on libertarians on foreign policy and social issues matter hardly at all, while their positions on economic matters given how they allocate resources – that is what defines them.

  • Area Man

    I’m a bit surprised that no one on the right is skeptical of being bought-off by a guy who makes his money with Macau casinos whose main purpose is to launder money for corrupt Chinese. Okay, I’m not surprised.

  • corwyn

    How much is your vote worth?






    Did you see any of that money?

  • lorn

    No worries, those folks are just seeking quality, in this case the best government that money can buy.

  • Marcus Ranum

    It is funny how the media pant breathlessly about who has how many million$$$$$ to spend on their campaign, and then simultaneously forget to complain about the influence of money in politics.

  • eric

    Yes but is the money actually doing anything? It didn’t in the last election. I suppose we will finally learn in 2016.

    I think the jury is still out on the $/vote ratio. It may be extremely high, in which case these rich assholes are mostly throwing away their money.

    But regardless of what it is, the dollar figures being thrown around make me think that a 50% or even 90% tax on campaign financing would be pretty good for the country. Sure, you can spend as much as you want on elections…just pay 50% of it to the federal treasury.

  • Chiroptera

    eric, #12: Sure, you can spend as much as you want on elections…just pay 50% of it to the federal treasury.

    Heh. Which then gets distributed to those campaigns that choose to go along with a public financing program.

  • Ichthyic

    Yes but is the money actually doing anything? It didn’t in the last election. I suppose we will finally learn in 2016.

    what? of course it had a HUGE effect!

    why do you think the election was even remotely close?

    Obama would have won by at least another 20% margin if it wasn’t for all the money the thugs spent.

    yes, it makes a difference.