GOP Megadonor Sheldon Adelson passed away this week at the age of 87.
According to The Washington Free Beacon:
Sheldon Adelson lived the American dream, a version so extreme that it could be the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster. He started far poorer, and ended up far wealthier, than almost anyone in history, and he knew it. When you met with him, which I was lucky enough to do on a very few occasions, he made a point of giving you a short speech about growing up in a two-room Dorchester tenement and sleeping on the floor with his siblings. His parents were immigrants and they were desperately poor—so don’t think the gilded office you were sitting in was handed to him, and don’t think he doesn’t know what it takes.
Adelson made and lost a fortune more than once en route to his ultimate success of transforming Las Vegas from a gambling destination to the place where thousands of national and international conventions are held each year—and owning the facilities that host them. While sitting in his office at the Venetian listening to stories of sleeping on the floor you looked around at the walls hung with pictures of Adelson on magazine covers and the ceiling hung with models of his private jets. His fleet includes two 747s. I asked him why two, and he said that he got annoyed having to stop to refuel en route to Macau, and decided to get a backup in case one 747 was down for repairs.
It was very American of him to be unashamed of both his poor and humble upbringing and his enormous wealth and success. Endlessly caricatured in the media as a “casino billionaire” and “GOP megadonor” the idea was to paint him as an out of touch, exploitative villain. But he gave far more to medical research, drug abuse treatment, schools and universities, wounded veterans, and Jewish and Israel causes than he did to Republicans, and much of it was done quietly and without public recognition. All of it stemmed from deep personal convictions.
In 2015, he convened an invitation-only gathering at the Venetian for pro-Israel activists. Over the previous few years the BDS movement had grown in influence, especially on college campuses where it was being adopted as a “social justice” cause, and he wanted to do something about it. He had assembled a handful of donors and asked his guests to take the stage in a mostly empty convention hall and pitch them.
Adelson’s presense will be missed.