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Report of $20 million from one Gingrich mega-donor disputed

December 15, 2011|By Melanie Mason and Tom Hamburger
  • Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp, speaks during the ceremony at the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel in Macau.
Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp,… (Kin Cheung / Associated…)

Fundraisers for Newt Gingrich report that Gingrich’s presidential campaign continues to gain altitude with checks and financial commitments arriving at campaign headquarters and at the offices of several Gingrich-aligned super PACs -- new independent political groups that can collect unlimited amounts from individuals, unions and corporations.

The former speaker's supporters have long counted on donations coming from Sheldon Adelson, the gambling magnate, who gave more than $7 million to Gingrich's American Solutions organization between 2006 and 2010.  A new super PAC was formed this week by the donor outreach executive of American Solutions, Becky Burkett.

Politico reported Thursday that Adelson plans to contribute or commit to raise $20 million for Gingrich's presidential bid. That's an eye-popping number; if Adelson wrote a check for that amount it would probably be the largest known single donation to a candidate by an individual. But the figure is disputed by a representative for Adelson,  a billionaire who is CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. And individuals familiar  with some of the Gingrich-aligned super PAC operations said they, too, had not heard that number.

Ron Reese, a spokesman for Las Vegas Sands Corp., said the “speculation was not true.”

Aside from quashing the $20-million figure used in the Politico report, Reese declined to detail any conversations the gambling magnate may have had with the numerous super PACs backing Gingrich’s bid.

“His thoughts on politics and elections are personal views and he prefers not discussing them publicly,” Reese said.

After its original publication, Politico updated its story to include a similar denial from Reese.

A person familiar with pro-Gingrich fundraising operations said that "activity has been brisk" among donors in recent days, so brisk that super PAC officials cannot keep up with the calls and requests for meetings. However, the individual, who asked not to be identified, said there was no indication of a donation or a commitment of that size coming from Adelson.

Already in this cycle, presidential super PACs have demonstrated the ability to rake in hefty donations. Restore Our Future, the group backing Mitt Romney, reported four million-dollar donors to its group last summer.

melanie.mason@latimes.com

tom.hamburger@latimes.com 

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