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October 22, 2017

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Adelson supports immigration reform, but will his wallet follow suit?

Sands chief pens op-ed calling for GOP to lead on reform


Christopher DeVargas

Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Sheldon Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and recently one of the biggest donors to Republican causes, published an op-ed calling for Congress to pass immigration reform in Politico Thursday.

“As a Republican, it’s my view that efforts to complete immigration reform should be led by our party. Some on the outer fringes of the GOP may disagree, but the truth is we are humans first and partisans second. Frankly, the Democrats don’t have a monopoly on having hearts,” Adelson wrote.

“While I do not practice or promote illegal behavior, the reality is that 11 million illegal immigrants are currently in this country. Let’s face it, the United States does not have a process — real or imaginable — to deport 11 million people from within our borders.”

Adelson starts the column by downplaying the connection between former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s recent primary defeat and the Virginia Republican’s positions on immigration, which waffled between discussing a path to citizenship for young immigrants through the DREAM Act and expressing opposition to the Senate's reform bill and what he called “amnesty.”

“If we are led to believe that the results of a local election with 12 percent voter turnout in a single congressional district (one out of 435) with a mere 65,000 votes cast is all that it takes to disrupt a necessary and important national policy debate, then America is in big trouble – not just on this issue, but on a whole range of issues,” Adelson writes.

The words carry the weight of Adelson’s wallet, and the GOP certainly wants to keep it open.

Adelson contributed $93 million to political action committees during the 2012 election cycle, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, with $30 million going to Restore Our Future, a political action committee in support of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid.

But will Adelson hold GOP candidates to his newly-stated ideals on immigration before writing checks?

Romney famously suggested the estimated 11 million immigrants in the United States without legal residency should “self-deport,” and was widely criticized for the simple answer to a complex problem.

Adelson has donated in the past to campaign war chests belonging to Cantor, Sharron Angle, Danny Tarkanian, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R – Minnesota, and Sen. John Cornyn, R – Texas.

Angle battled Harry Reid for the 2010 Senate bid, airing ads that portrayed migrants from Mexico as a menace to the community. Tarkanian has also campaigned against immigration reform during his handful of failed races in the past few years.

When she ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, Bachmann said she would deport every single immigrant in the country illegally, which Adelson calls “simply not realistic” in the Politico piece.

Cornyn voted against the Senate immigration reform bill that passed in June 2013, and before voting he tried to insert an amendment that supporters of the bill called a “poison pill” aimed at killing it.

The GOP candidates vying for a slice of the millions Adelson is likely to put into the 2016 election may want to take heed of this op-ed, and one of his advisors' recent words to the Washington Post:

“The bar for support is going to be much higher,” Andy Abboud, Adelson’s top political adviser and an executive at Las Vegas Sands Corp told the Post. “There’s going to be a lot more scrutiny.”

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