Adelson picks up where late husband and GOP
kingmaker left off
2024 candidates know what the billionaire donor
wants, and that’s a hawkish pro-Israel U.S.
policy in the Middle East.
It’s big news when a political party’s biggest
funder announces, after a period of mourning for the
death of their spouse, that they will be continuing
their role as the go-to funder for congressional and
presidential candidates in 2022 and 2024. You also
might expect a discussion of how that donor expects
to influence U.S. politics with their campaign
donations. You’d be wrong.
Politico provided in-depth reporting on how
“Republican mega donor Miriam Adelson — the widow of
casino mogul and longtime GOP kingmaker Sheldon
Adelson — is staging a return to politics,
positioning herself to be a force in the 2022
midterms and beyond.”
This is big news. Adelson, a U.S.-Israel dual
national, is worth $30 billion as the majority
shareholder of Las Vegas Sands, a casino and resort
company with enormous business interests in
Singapore and Macau, a Chinese Special
Foreign policy, both in the Middle East and East
Asia, is clearly a central area of interest for the
woman likely to emerge as the single biggest funder
of Republican Party candidates in the 2022 and 2024
One of the couple’s
final political acts, before Sheldon Adelson’s
death on January 11th, was to fly Jonathan Pollard —
a former U.S. Navy analyst who spent 30 years in
prison after pleading guilty to spying for Israel —
to Israel on one the family’s private 737s once
Pollard’s travel ban was lifted.
Indeed, foreign policy has been the key-defining
issue-area of the Adelsons’ political giving. The
Adelsons helped to support the ultra-hawkish
pro-Likud, anti-Iran echo chamber, including, among
other groups, the
Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the
Israeli American Council,
United Against Nuclear Iran, and the
Zionist Organization of America — all of which
the couple financially supported over the last two
decades. They also provided tens of millions of
dollars to the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee over
the years, but abruptly withdrew their backing in
2007 because of its support in Congress for an
economic aid package for Palestinians.
Miriam, individually, made her views on Trump’s
foreign policy known — including support for moving
the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to
Jerusalem, and withdrawing from the nuclear deal
with Iran — in a 2019 op-ed in the Las Vegas Review
Journal, a newspaper owned by the Adelsons. In it,
she berated Jewish Americans for failing to
prioritize the U.S.-Israel relationship by voting
overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates.
The world rallies to an America that is
strong, and this strength is best shown by
keeping faith with U.S. allies — of which Israel
is the best.
By rights, Trump should enjoy sweeping
support among U.S. Jews, just as he does among
Israelis. That this has not been the case (so
far — the 2020 election still beckons) is an
oddity that will long be pondered by historians.
Scholars of the Bible will no doubt note the
heroes, sages and prophets of antiquity who were
similarly spurned by the very people they came
to raise up.
Would it be too much to pray for a day when
the Bible gets a “Book of Trump,” much like it
has a “Book of Esther” celebrating the
deliverance of the Jews from ancient Persia?
Until that is decided, let us, at least, sit
back and marvel at this time of miracles for
Israel, for the United States, and for the whole
And in China, Sheldon Adelson, already showed he
was eager to influence U.S. foreign policy in order
to further his casino business interests.
In 2001, Adelson
reportedly curried favor with the Chinese
leadership and helped secure his initial casino
license in Macau by persuading Rep. Tom Delay
(R-Texas), then the House majority whip, to halt a
bipartisan resolution calling for the U.S. to oppose
Beijing’s Olympics bid due to China’s problematic
human rights record.
That casino license is up for renewal in 2022,
and the company overseen by Miriam Adelson has taken
pains to tie itself
closer to Beijing, including appointing Wilfred
Wong, former member of the National People’s
Congress of the People’s Republic of China, as CEO
of its Las Vegas Sands subsidiary Sands China.
Both Miriam and Sheldon Adelson received a
public thanks from President Donald Trump at the
January 2020 signing of the U.S.-China Phase One
But none of this context was provided in
Politico’s write-up of Miriam committing to carry-on
the political giving previously conducted in
collaboration with her husband.
The only mention of the Adelsons’ overriding
interest in influencing U.S.-foreign policy was in
the 13th paragraph when the author, Alex Isenstadt,
noted “Miriam Adelson shared her husband’s hawkish
foreign policy views and his staunch support of
Speakers at last week’s Republican Jewish
Coalition conference at one of Adelson’s Las Vegas
properties, The Venetian, included former Secretary
of State Mike Pompeo, former UN Ambassador Nikki
Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Ted
Cruz (R-Texas), and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Unlike Politico, the speakers were clear about
what issues their audience, and their host Miriam
Adelson, cared most about.
Jewish Insider, Haley attacked AIPAC, accusing
the largest pro-Israel group in the U.S. of being
insufficiently supportive of Israel at the expense
of pursuing bipartisanship. Cruz praised Trump’s
foreign policy decisions to relocate the U.S.
Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and withdraw from the
nuclear deal with Iran, while attempting to claim
credit for his own roles in both decisions. And
Pence boasted to the audience that “under the
Trump-Pence administration, if the world knew
nothing else, the world knew this: America stands
While national political journalists may have
chosen to ignore or overlook Miriam Adelson’s clear
interest in steering U.S. foreign policy toward
hawkish policies in the Middle East, at least
inasmuch as the Republican Party can drive policy,
the potential 2024 presidential candidates speaking
at the event gave every indication that they
understood the issues that motivate the Republican
Party’s biggest donor: Israel, Iran, and promoting a
hawkish U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
Eli Clifton is a senior advisor at the
Quincy Institute and
Investigative-Journalist-at-Large at Responsible
Statecraft. He reports on money in politics and
U.S. foreign policy. He previously reported for
the American Independent New Network,
ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service. Clifton
is co-author of the Center for American
Progress’s report Fear Inc.: The Roots Of the
Islamophobia Network In America. Eli has been a
fellow at The Nation Institute and the Type
Registration is necessary to post comments.
We ask only that you do not use obscene or offensive
language. Please be respectful of others.