Gingrich donor is casino mogul, Israeli hardliner

By Shannon Mccaffrey

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Jan. 26 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Adelson entered the business world as a 12-year-old selling newspapers. He began to make his fortune when he founded Comdex, a trade show that became a staple for the computer industry. He then moved into the casino industry. His gambling empire stretches from Las Vegas to Macau and Singapore and includes the Venetian and Palazzo casinos in Las Vegas.

The FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Adelson for possible violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to a filing with the SEC. The company denies any wrongdoing and says the investigation stems from the allegation of a disgruntled employee.

The son of a cab driver, Adelson now ranks as the eighth wealthiest person in America, according to Forbes Magazine, which places his net worth at $21.5 billion.

Last year, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Israel, said it received its largest private donation ever — a $25 million gift — from Adelson. Since 2007, he has donated more than $100 million to Birthright Israel, a group that sends young adult Jews from the United States and other countries on 10-day trips to Israel.

Adelson is an outspoken supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and owns a widely read, right-wing Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, which is distributed at no cost throughout Israel and is supportive of Netanyahu.

The hefty donations to Gingrich's presidential bid aren't the first checks he's written to help the former Georgia congressman. He ponied up more than $7 million to help get Gingrich's conservative political group American Solutions for Winning the Future off the ground.

The first $5 million donation from Adelson came at a critical juncture for Gingrich as he entered South Carolina, stung by a humbling fifth-place finish in New Hampshire's Republican primary. The Adelson money to Winning Our Future, a pro-Gingrich PAC led by former Gingrich aide Rick Tyler, helped finance a 28-minute movie bashing Mitt Romney's tenure at the helm of the private equity firm Bain Capital.

Gingrich was able to leverage the support into a double-digit win in South Carolina over Romney.

Presumably pleased with his investment, Adelson doubled down in Florida, where the next Republican contest will take place Jan. 31. This week, Adelson's wife chipped in another $5 million. The money is quickly going right back out the door.

Tyler told the AP that Winning Our Future had made a $6 million ad buy in Florida. A spot is planned to take aim at Romney's health care plan as governor of Massachusetts and its connection to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, Tyler said.

Associated Press writers Ian Deitch in Jerusalem, Brian Bakst in Cocoa, Fla., and Jack Gillum in Washington contributed to this report.

Follow Shannon McCaffrey: www.twitter.com/smccaffrey13

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