Casino tycoon and Trump megadonor Sheldon Adelson has died at the age of 87. The cause was complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, his company, Las Vegas Sands, said on Tuesday in a statement.
After a hardscrabble depression era childhood in Boston “unfazed by risks, rivals or the law, he built a fortune estimated by Forbes in 2014 at $36.6 billion and by Bloomberg Billionaires Index at $40.8 billion, making him the world’s eighth or ninth wealthiest person.”
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“Mr. Adelson became one of America’s heavyweight political spenders — the largest single donor in the 2012 elections — following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010, “The NewYork Times said in his obituary, “which removed many limits on political contributions as unconstitutional infringements of free speech.”
After a private meeting with Trump when he became the presumptive Republican nominee in 2016, it was said that Adelson pledged up to $100 million to get him elected. “He eventually gave the Trump presidential campaign only $25 million,” said the Times, “But was still its largest donor.”
“He is a candidate with actual C.E.O. experience, shaped and molded by the commitment and risk of his own money rather than the public’s,” Mr. Adelson wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post. Mr. Trump, he added, “has created a movement in this country that cannot be denied.”
At the November 2017 conference of the Israeli-American Council, Adelson declared that the organization should become primarily a political lobbying group on Israel-related issues. In contrast to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which supports a two-state solution and continued aid to the Palestinians, Adelson charted a course for IAC to oppose both of these positions. Israeli journalist Chemi Shalev said that IAC had not intended to become a political pressure group and that Adelson had “hijacked” it.
Under the Trump administration, the Adelsons achieved at least one of their long-held goals: the relocation of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in 2018.
In Israel, where he had a home and owned major conservative media outlets, Mr. Adelson supported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party. He opposed statehood for Palestinians, favored Israeli settlements in occupied territories and underwrote junkets to Israel by congressional Republicans.
He looked like a man spoiling for a fight: short, stout and pugnacious, with sparse reddish hair and a puffy pale face that reddened easily. Unions, reporters and associates he considered disloyal incurred his wrath. He kept bodyguards and lawyers close.
Adelson, an unapologetic Zionist, was reported to have considered relocating, “He fell in love with the country,” a friend told the Times. Mr. Adelson first visited Israel in 1988, wearing the shoes of his father, a Lithuanian-born Jew who had never made the trip.