Sheldon Adelson, casino mogul and hawkish Trump donor, dies
Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire mogul and power broker who built a casino empire spanning from Las Vegas to China and became a singular force in domestic and international politics has died after a long illness.
Adelson died at 87 from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Las Vegas Sands announced Tuesday.
He was the son of Jewish immigrants, raised with two siblings in a Boston tenement, who over the second half of his life became one of the world’s richest men. The chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. brought singing gondoliers to the Las Vegas Strip and foresaw correctly that Asia would be an even bigger market. In 2018, Forbes ranked him No. 15 in the US, worth an estimated $35.5 billion.
The squatly-built Adelson resembled an old-fashioned political boss and stood apart from most American Jews, who for decades have supported Democrats by wide margins. Adelson was considered the nation’s most influential GOP donor over the final years of his life, at times setting records for individual contributions during a given election cycle.
In 2012, Politico called him “the dominant pioneer of the super PAC era.”
Adelson regularly hosted the party’s top strategists and most ambitious candidates at his modest office, wedged among the casinos on the Strip. Throughout, he helped ensure that uncritical support of Israel became a pillar of the GOP platform, never more visibly demonstrated than when the Trump administration relocated the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018.
The inflammatory move had been adamantly opposed by Palestinians and was long a priority for Adelson, who had even offered to help pay for it, and for the Republican Jewish Coalition, of which he was the primary benefactor. Adelson and his wife, Miriam, were front and center at the ceremony in Jerusalem.
More recently, he reportedly purchased the US ambassador’s official residence near Tel Aviv for some $67 million in a move that was seen as helping prevent the embassy from relocating back to Tel Aviv after Trump leaves office. Just weeks ago, Adelson provided a private plane for Jonathan Pollard, a former US intelligence analyst who spent 30 years in prison for spying for Israel, to move to Israel after his parole ended.
His attachment to Israel was life-long and so deep that he once said he wished his military service had been in an Israeli uniform instead of an American one.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Adelson “will forever be remembered” for his work strengthening ties between the US and Israel.