Sheldon Adelson Voices Support for Trump: Report

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Sheldon Adelson told a reporter during a World Values Network event on May 5, pictured here, that he would support Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election. Lorenzo Bevilaqua/World Values Network

After months of relative quiet regarding the 2016 election cycle, at least publicly, the billionaire Sheldon Adelson, an influential Republican Party donor, reportedly said he will support Donald Trump.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that when asked about whether he would support the presumptive Republican Party nominee, the casino magnate said, "Yes, I'm a Republican, he's a Republican.... He's our nominee. Whoever the nominee would turn out to be, any one of the 17—he was one of the 17. He won fair and square."

During the 2012 election cycle, Adelson, 82, spent a reported $98 million or more on campaign contributions, which according to ProPublica was "more money than anyone else in American history."

This election cycle, Adelson reportedly has met with several candidates. In recent months, he appeared to be warming to Trump, describing him in December as "very charming," Reuters reported. However, just two months earlier, Trump tweeted, "Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to [Marco] Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!"

Adelson made his comments Thursday at an annual gala hosted by the World Values Network, a Jewish and pro-Israel group. The event, held on Holocaust Remembrance Day, honored people for their contributions to the Jewish community, including Elie Wiesel, Yoko Ono and Reza Pahlavi, a member of the exiled Iranian royal family.

Speaking with Newsweek at Thursday's event, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who hosted the event and who has worked with Adelson on Jewish-related causes, also voiced support for Trump, citing the candidate's position on Israel.

"He has been very vocal in his criticism of the Iran nuclear agreement, which is an existential threat to the state of Israel," Boteach said. He added that Trump also seems to have advisers "who are strong supporters of Israel, who have a history of long, long support of Israel" and who are "trustworthy on Israel."

Among those supporters, Boteach said, is Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whom the rabbi referred to as "a personal friend," a phrase he uses often. (Kushner's real estate company took out a page in the program for the event, and the editor of The New York Observer, which Kushner owns, was among those honored. That editor has also served as a director and secretary of the World Values Network. The Kushner Family Foundation has also contributed to the organization, according to tax filings.)

Boteach criticized Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's apparent association with Max Blumenthal, a journalist who has criticized Israel. The journalist's father, Sidney Blumenthal, was an aide to Bill Clinton and also is said to advise Hillary Clinton. (She has voiced support for Israel, including at the AIPAC conference in March. Boteach and Max Blumenthal were filmed in a confrontation at the time of the conference.)

Asked about Trump's comment earlier this year that he would be "neutral" on the Israel-Palestine issue, Boteach said, "I think he's progressed well beyond that."

At another World Values Network event in March, which Adelson attended, organizers had said he would not be discussing the election. Instead, he focused much of his talk on an effort to combat anti-Semitism on American college campuses.

Several Republican Party members have endorsed Trump in recent days, after Ted Cruz and John Kasich suspended their campaigns. Still, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly said on Thursday he was "not ready" to support Trump.