Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire GOP donor whose ring must be kissed by all good Republican boys, gave $30 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, the House Republican super PAC, in an effort to save the party’s majority, Politico reported on Thursday.
That cash infusion essentially doubles the CLF’s cash on hand: The PAC had $25,144,704 as of April 4, according to the most recent FEC report available. It’s also triple what Adelson gave in 2016 and comes months earlier in the cycle, according to the site. That may be because the Republican Party is facing the prospect of losing their majority, with “dozens of incumbents being outraised by emboldened Democratic challengers.”
The long-sought donation was sealed last week when, according to two senior Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan flew to Las Vegas to meet with the billionaire at his Venetian Hotel. Also at the meeting with Adelson was his wife, Miriam; Norm Coleman, the former Minnesota senator who chairs the Republican Jewish Coalition; Corry Bliss, who oversees the super PAC; and Jake Kastan, Ryan’s No. 2 political aide. They laid out a case to Adelson about how crucial it is to protect the House.
As a federally elected official, Ryan is not permitted to solicit seven-figure political donations. When Ryan (R-Wis.) left the room, Coleman made the ask and secured the $30 million contribution.
Right, so, the Speaker of the House can fly all the way to Las Vegas to meet with a billionaire mega-donor, help make the case for why the party needs this $30 million, but as long as he leaves the room and someone else actually asks for the cash, it’s all fine? Excellent, sensible system.
Meanwhile, studies continue to find that money in politics is a big issue for voters. A new study from the University of Maryland found 66% of Republicans and 85% of Democrats would support a constitutional amendment outlawing Citizens United, and 88% agree it’s important to reduce the influence of money in politics.
And yet news of this gigantic donation—a clear case of a billionaire seeking to influence politics—will almost certainly do less harm to the GOP’s reputation than the donation itself will bolster their electoral prospects—partly because the public feels the Democrats do exactly same thing, which they mostly do, just not as successfully. The Democratic version of CLF, the House Majority PAC, has only $13,095,459 cash on hand, and hasn’t received anything like a one-off $30 million check this cycle. In addition, $19 million of the money CLF received this cycle has come from American Action Network, a 501(c)(4) that doesn’t disclose its donors—something we should be talking about a lot more often.
The GOP might be on course to lose their majority this November, but at least they’ll always have billionaire benefactors ready to step up to bail them out. So inspiring.