Sheldon Adelson's Death Prompts Republican Mourning as Tributes Made to GOP Megadonor

The death of 87-year-old billionaire and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson announced Tuesday prompted a flurry of tributes from conservatives, who lauded the impact the casino mogul had on American and Israeli politics.

Adelson's Las Vegas Sands company announced Tuesday that the Republican power broker had died from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Adelson and wife Miriam were the largest donors to outgoing President Donald Trump, and since 2010 donated more than $525 million to federal political campaigns and committees, according to OpenSecrets.

Adelson was awarded the President Medal of Freedom by Trump in 2018, though the president later criticized the businessman for not donating more to his 2020 re-election bid.

His Las Vegas Sands company said Boston-born Adelson "went from a teenager selling newspapers on a street corner to becoming one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs." The statement described Adelson's business credentials as "unquestioned," and lauded "his dedication to philanthropy and commitment to his family."

Prominent Republicans issued their own condolences. Former President George W. Bush said he and his wife Laura "mourn the passing of a friend."

"He was an American patriot, a generous benefactor of charitable causes, and a strong supporter of Israel," Bush said.

Houda Nonoo, Former Ambassador of Bahrain to the United States and non-resident Ambassador to Canada, Brazil, Mexico & Argentina, echoed Bush's sentiments.

"I am saddened to learn of the passing of Sheldon Adelson, a philanthropist who focused on health and educational causes, combating anti-Semitism, as well as youth programs to strengthen Jewish identity. My condolences to Miriam and the rest of the family. May his memory be a blessing," Nonoo said.

A fierce supporter of Israel, Adelson established a media empire in the country and used his wealth and profile to push the Republican platform towards closer alignment with the Israeli government and more explicit support for the country, despite concerns in the U.S. about human rights abuses against Palestinians and continued occupation of Palestinian land.

Indeed, Adelson and his wife faced criticism for their long-time support of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, considered illegal by the United Nations and the majority of the international community despite American and Israeli efforts to argue otherwise.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, said Adelson "has now gone home. But the legacy he leaves behind will last many lifetimes." McCarthy added: "We will always remember how he helped to improve the nations he loved, advance the democratic values they stand for, and support the people who call them home. He was freedom's greatest friend."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Adelson a "remarkable American" and lauded his "incredible life and career," which included creating "countless jobs" and supporting "countless Jewish causes around the world that were especially close to his heart."

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis—tipped for a 2024 presidential run—said Adelson was the "epitome of the American Dream." He added: "Nobody was a more effective supporter of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship than Sheldon and Miriam," crediting the couple with helping the success of the Abraham Accords and the controversial moving of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, said he learned of Adelson's passing with "great sadness." The South Carolina lawmaker, who is also a staunch advocate for Israel, said Adelson and wife Miriam are "the greatest friends to the state of Israel that I've ever known."

Update (1/12/2021, 6:15 p.m.): This article has been updated to include comment from. Houda Nonoo.

Sheldon Adelson pictured at Trump Israel event
Sheldon Adelson is pictured as President Donald Trump addresses the Israeli American Council National Summit 2019 at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida on December 7, 2019. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images/Getty