The Adelsons: Buying Elections With Their Pocket Change

For the Adelsons, $2,500 is pocket change:

In recent days, [Sheldon] Adelson, a billionaire casino owner, and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, gave $10 million to Restore Our Future, a “super PAC” backing Mitt Romney, people with knowledge of the contribution said Wednesday. The move leaves the Adelsons by far the most prolific campaign donors in the country.

All told, they have given at least $35 million to pro-Republican super PACs during the 2012 campaign, along with several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of $2,500 checks directly to federal candidates.


With a net worth of roughly $25 billion, Mr. Adelson is among the richest of all: In an interview with Forbes magazine this year, he suggested he would consider personally spending as much as $100 million on the 2012 elections.

$10, million is a lot of money. $35 million and $100 million are a lot more. But for the Adelsons, those amounts are nothing. $10 million is only 0.0004% of their worth. $35 million is 0.0014%. And $100 million is 0.004% of their worth.

The median family’s wealth is $77,300.  If the Adelsons made contributions at the same percentage of their wealth, but they were at same level as the median family in the US, their contributions would look modest:

Adelson Contribution Media Family Contribution
$10 million $30.92
$35 million $108.22
$100 million $309.20





As a share of household wealth, giving $10 million to Mitt Romney’s Super PAC cost Sheldon Adelson less that it cost you to gas up your car.

It would take contributions from 323,415 households at the median level of wealth, contributing at the same proportion of their wealth, just to match the contributions of  Sheldon and Miriam Anderson. That’s more than the total number of households in Las Vegas and Renocombined.

The problem here isn’t so much that the Adelsons are spending such large amounts of money to heavily influence the election in favor of Mitt Romney. It’s that influencing an election costs them, in proportion to their wealth, next to nothing.

Oh, there’s at least one more problem: Sheldon Adelson is only the eighth wealthiest person in America. Tied for fourth are Charles and David Koch.

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1 Response to The Adelsons: Buying Elections With Their Pocket Change

  1. Sam says:

    Just a minor correction: $100 million = 0.004 * $25 billion, but that makes it 0.4%, not 0.004%.

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