Who's Buying Your Next President? Sheldon Adelson Makes His Bid

To put it another way, the Adelson’s $10 million contribution to the Gingrich campaign equals the yearly salary of more than 200 average American households. Yes, Adelson and his wife gave the yearly income of a small town in order to help Gingrich win the South Carolina primary and keep his head above water in Florida.

Over the past few weeks, Sheldon Adelson made headlines for his outsized gifts to Newt Gingrich, which have quickly turned him into the biggest individual spender in the 2012 election cycle. But while the casino mogul’s huge donations have elevated Gingrich’s chances in the Republican primaries, they’ve also raised quite a few eyebrows.

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and the rise of super PACs, billionaires and corporations are able to make almost unlimited political donations, leading an growing number of pundits to wonder aloud if the U.S. presidency is now for sale. And if Adelson is the highest bidder, who will end up running the game?

A Self-Made Man

Adelson is pretty much the definition of a self-made man. The son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, he dropped out of City College of New York before starting several businesses, including a chartered bus tour company, a business selling toiletry kits to hotels, and an investment firm. In 1979, he hit pay dirt when he helped create COMDEX, which became the premier computer trade show. A few years later, he purchased the Las Vegas’ Sands hotel and casino. It became the first property in a resort empire that stretches now around the globe. A former Democrat, he switched parties when he became wealthy and wanted to reduce his taxes. As The New Yorker reported in 2008, he allegedly told an associate, “Why is it fair that I should be paying a higher percentage of taxes than anyone else?”


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