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5 Questions To Ask as Donald Trump Woos Megadonor Sheldon Adelson

So far, Sheldon Adelson is showing Donald Trump his face — but not his money.

The Las Vegas Jewish billionaire and the Republican presidential nominee have met twice in recent weeks, first in New York and again in Las Vegas in late August. Adelson also hosted Trump at his suite during the Republican convention in Cleveland.

But while the two billionaires seem to be getting along well, there is still no answer to the big question floating over this relationship: Will Adelson make good on his promise to support Trump to the tune of $100 million?

That promise has yet to show up on any federal election finance filings and it is not clear whether at this point, only two months before the general elections, whether Adelson will come through or not.

Here are five things to watch as the clock ticks toward Election Day:

Could Adelson have already made the contribution?

Federal campaign records regularly reflect a gap of several weeks in donations during election season so it is possible that Adelson, who refuses to discuss his contributions publicly, has actually begun recently to write checks to the Trump campaign and supportive Super PACs without these contributions showing up on records yet. In 2012, Adelson and his wife Miriam gave at least $98 million to GOP candidates and were key supporters of the ultimately unsuccessful primary run made by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But back then, the megadonor’s made his mark early on in the race. By September 2012 he had already given $70 million and was considered a top funder of the Republican campaign alongside the Koch brothers.

Is it too late for Adelson to start giving?

No. Campaigning and TV ad buying really only starts in earnest after Labor Day, so Adelson still has plenty of time to make a sizable donation and see his money count for something. However, for donors seeking a return for their contribution in terms of influencing campaign strategy or insuring that the candidate makes certain campaign promises, the later they get in the game, the less time they have to reap benefits from their investment.

What campaigns has Adelson been spending his cash on?

Although Adelson, alongside Miriam, his wife and partner in philanthropy, have been slow to open their pocketbooks for Trump and his supportive independent expenditure groups, they’ve been quite generous to other GOP causes. Since the beginning of 2015, the couple has given upwards of $1.3 million to the Republican party and to many congressional candidates. They gave gifts totaling more than $300,000 to the Republican National Committee at the end of December 2015 and made similar contributions to the National Republican Congressional Committee and to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Sheldon and Miriam Adelson also gave the maximum amount of contributions to more than a dozen GOP candidates running in Senate and House races. Their reported political giving so far, however, leaned heavily toward Trump’s rivals. Early on in the Republican race the Adelsons gave to Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham, and also to Nebraska senator Ben Sasse, the most vocal anti-Trump elected official SOURCE.

Would Adelson rather avoid giving to Trump directly?

Sheldon Adelson is the largest donor of the Republican Jewish Coalition, the major pro-GOP Jewish organization which is now split between board members backing Trump and those who refuse to support his campaign. Funneling his contributions through the Jewish group could help Trump focus his giving on supporting the pro-Israel message of the Republican presidential campaign, rather than the more general Trump message which may include some aspects that he disagrees with. In 2012, Adelson’s contribution was estimated at more than $6 million and Democrats have been throwing around the figure of $25 million as his funding goal for the group this year. It is not known yet if and what Adelson gave the RJC so far. A spokesman for the RJC declined to provide information on Adelson’s contributions to the group.

Can Adelson still get Trump to visit Israel?

Not likely. It is no secret that Trump was not Adelson’s first choice for the Republican presidential nomination. But as other favorites dropped out, the Vegas casino mogul threw his support behind Trump, making clear that the candidate’s stand on Israel would be critical in order to cash in on his backing. Adelson reportedly suggested that Trump make a pre-election visit to Israel, just like Mitt Romney did in 2012. But as months went by, talk of a pre-convention and then of a post-convention pilgrimage to the Holy Land were met with other urgent campaign needs and Trump never made it to Israel. Now, with the debates coming up in late September and early October and the final stretch afterwards, it is hard to see how Trump will be able to make time for an overseas visit.

Contact Nathan Guttman at or on Twitter @nathanguttman




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