Adelsons Spent $55 Million to Help GOP Win Battle for Congress

(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, delivered $25 million to help Republicans try to hold the Senate in November’s congressional elections, adding to the $30 million they previously gave to bolster the GOP’s campaign to keep the House.

The Las Vegas Sands Corp. chairman and chief executive officer and his wife were among the big-dollar donors who lavished millions on political committees in July ahead of the first major political test of Donald Trump’s presidency, disclosures filed by Monday night with the Federal Election Commission show.

Adelsons Spent $55 Million to Help GOP Win Battle for Congress

Their donation went to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super political action committee, and follows the couple’s earlier contribution to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The two parties and their allied political committees are furiously raising money as the campaign for control of Congress enters a crucial phase. The main Democratic committee that backs House candidates has built its biggest cash-on-hand advantage over its Republican counterpart so far in the 2018 campaign, the filings show.

July was the sixth consecutive month the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has raised more than the National Republican Congressional Committee. The DCCC ended the month with $4.7 million more in its bank account.

Special Elections Took Toll

That marks a turnaround from early in 2017, when the NRCC raised more in the first four months of the year on its way to building a $14.7 million cash advantage, before a series of expensive special elections drained its coffers.

Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to win a majority in the House, while they have to gain two seats in the Senate to control that chamber.

The House Majority PAC, which supports Democrats, reported $3.7 million in donations and started August with $22.8 million in the bank. Renaissance Technologies LLC board chairman James Simons contributed $1.7 million. Michael R. Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, made an in-kind contribution of polling data worth $456,975. He has pledged to give millions of dollars in 2018 to help Democrats retake control of the House.

Other large donors on the Democratic side included Karla Jurvetson, a psychiatrist and the ex-wife of venture capitalist Stephen Jurvetson, who donated $1 million to SMP, a super PAC that supports Senate Democrats. Qualcomm Inc. co-founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife, Joan Jacobs, combined to give $1 million to the group, while Deborah Simon, an Indianapolis philanthropist ranked among the top ten donors this cycle by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, gave $500,000. SMP raised $7.4 million in July and ended the month with $23.9 million in the bank.

Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC focusing on voter engagement and turnout, reported raising $4.1 million, with $2 million of that coming from hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman of Paloma Partners Management Co. It spent $5.2 million and ended July with $8.2 million in the bank.

Planned Parenthood’s Effort

Planned Parenthood Votes raised $2.5 million, including donations of $1.1 million from philanthropist Richard Rosenthal of Ohio, and another $1 million from Andrea Soros Colombel, the daughter of billionaire George Soros. The super PAC ended July with $6.5 million in the bank.

Richard Uihlein, a packing supply magnate and a descendant of one of the founders of the Schlitz beer company, gave $900,000 in July to Restoration PAC. The group was one of several entities he funded in a losing effort to try to help businessman and Marine Corps veteran Kevin Nicholson win the Aug. 14 Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin.

Uihlein also contributed $200,000 to the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, which has supported Nicholson and nine other Republican candidates.

Billionaire Robert Rowling and his company, TRT Holdings Inc., each gave $250,000 to the super-PAC Texans Are, set up by allies of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. The group ended July with $2.6 million in the bank. Cruz’s Democratic opponent in November, Representative Beto O’Rourke, has out-raised the incumbent by more than $10 million.

The DCCC said it raised a record for July, $13.5 million. The committee said it has raised $191 million so far this election cycle and had $72.6 million in the bank, compared with $133.9 million raised at the same point in 2016, when it had $62 million in the bank.

“There is no question that the grassroots are united around the goal of taking back the House,” said Representative Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, the DCCC chairman, in a statement.

The NRCC took in $10.2 million, according to its FEC filing, $4 million of which came from the Republican National Committee. The campaign of Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 3 House Republican and one of several potential successors to Ryan after he leaves Congress, gave $1 million to the NRCC, which ended the month with $67.8 million in the bank.

Protect the House, a joint fundraising committee that’s drawn donations from billionaire Elon Musk, the Tesla Inc. chief executive officer, gave the NRCC $797,840 in July. That’s down from the $2.1 million it provided the previous month.

Ryan Effect?

Some GOP donors have suggested that Ryan’s announced retirement without a successor in place has hurt fundraising, although Trump and the RNC have helped fill the gap. Until July, the NRCC hadn’t raised more than $10 million since Ryan said in April that he would not stand for re-election in his Wisconsin district.

The RNC raised $14.2 million in July, which it said was a record for any month in a non-presidential year. That included $4.7 million from small-dollar donors giving $200 or less. Trump Victory and Trump Make America Great Again, which benefit the party and the president’s re-election campaign, transferred $4 million to the RNC.

The national committee, which ended July with $41.9 million in the bank, spread the wealth around, transferring $10 million to other party committees. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, like the NRCC, received $4 million from the RNC, while state GOP committees split a little less than $2 million.

The Democratic National Committee reported raising $7.2 million in July and ended the month with $7.9 million cash on hand but $6.7 million in debt.

The Adelsons gave $82.5 million to conservative causes and candidates in the 2015-16 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That ranked them second in the U.S. for individual donors, behind liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, for that cycle.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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