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RNC Begs Adelson for Bucks—6 Million of Them

Citing Donald Trump’s presumptive nomination, a number of companies and wealthy individuals have reneged on their contributions to the convention, Politico reported

Armin Rosen
July 15, 2016
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 1, 2014. Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 1, 2014. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Trump campaign’s fundraising difficulties are well-documented by now, with the real estate developer’s presidential effort raising a mere $3 million in May alone. Now, Trump’s toxicity among the mainline Republican donor class has apparently bled over into the Republican National Committee and its flagship event.

According to Politico, the RNC is facing a $6 million shortfall in funding next week’s Republican convention, after “more than two-dozen prominent corporations and individuals” pulled over $8 million in pledged funding. Donors don’t want to fund the coronation of Donald Trump as the party’s candidate, but as Politico reports, the RNC has a solution: Begging the Las Vegas casino mogul and Republican super-donor Sheldon Adelson for $6 million to cover the costs of the convention.

The 82-year-old Adelson, who is worth an estimated $25 billion, gave an jaw-dropping $150 million in political donations during the 2012 election cycle. This time around, he’s one of the few major Republican donors to openly back Donald Trump, in light of the New York businessman’s acrimonious relationship with leading Republican figures and former fundraising magnets like Mitt Romney and the Bush family. Since the speaking schedule for next week’s Republican convention doesn’t include a single past Republican candidate for president, the lack of top-level Republican support for Trump places an additional burden on Adelson, who is both richer and more supportive of Trump than just about any other donor.

What’s surprising is how soon Adelson’s unique position in the election is coming into play, and how Trump’s unpalatable candidacy is harming even the most basic functions of the party: Adelson isn’t making his presence felt by fueling swing-state ad-buys; instead he’s potentially bailing out the Republican convention. As a letter to Adelson from the organizers of the convention host committee obtained by Politico stated, “Your support will allow our community to meet its obligation to the RNC, and will ensure our Republican nominee has the best possible platform to lay out his conservative case for our nation.” The RNC and its allies are having difficulties paying for even the most fundamental aspects of their political operation, and this probably won’t be the last time they turn to Adelson for help.

It seems the impact of Adelson’s politics has already been felt this election cycle. The Republican platform, released earlier this week, contains no reference to the establishment of a Palestinian state, and has been interpreted as backing the legitimacy of Israeli territorial claims in the West Bank. Adelson famously broke with AIPAC in 2008 over the organization’s support for the peace process, has expressed skepticism over the desirability of a two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and is the owner of Israel HaYom, a strong supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party. Adelson is becoming a disproportionately larger player during a bizarre year for Republican politics—and the party’s official views are beginning to look more like his.

Armin Rosen is a staff writer for Tablet Magazine.