WASHINGTON -- Just a dozen people in Sheldon Adelson's casino empire have made political donations during the 2012 election cycle, but these contributions exceed $25 million, according to a review of campaign finance filings through May.
The numbers not only illustrate a singular company's emergence as a major political force in the age of the super PAC; they also reflect how unbalanced the process of political fundraising has become.
The Las Vegas Sands Corp. employs 40,000 individuals worldwide. More than 10,000 of these employees work in the United States, the company confirmed to The Huffington Post. Of that total, only 0.1 percent have made donations of $200 or more to campaigns, committees or other political entities in the current cycle.
Those who call for minimal restrictions on campaign financing argue that it is more egalitarian and in the spirit of the Constitution to remove limits on giving. Their theory is that while top earners might have more dollars to donate, others show their strength as they bolster the number of individual contributors. But, according to good government watchdogs, there rarely is parity between executives and average workplace Joes when it comes to political giving.
"When you actually take a look at campaign expense reports, the number of CEOs that you see and businesspeople that you see vastly outnumber any professions for labor or [the] middle class," said David Donnelly, the national campaigns director of the Public Campaign Action Fund. "That's because regular people just don't give to politicians. So few people give anything that you see no cross section of American life."
A contributor must give a cumulative total of $200 or more before documentation is sent to the Federal Election Commission. But even if every one of the 10,000 workers in the Las Vegas Sands universe donated $199, this would be significantly less than just one of the checks written by Adelson to Newt Gingrich's super PAC.
To determine how many people inside Adelson's empire made donations in 2012, The Huffington Post looked at instances when the giver listed the Las Vegas Sands, Venetian Hotel, the Venetian Hotel, the Venetia, Sands Expo, the Palazzo, Palazzo or Sands Bethlehem as their place of employment.
Of these individuals, four people (including Adelson) are members of the Adelson family, six are or have been top executives in his company; the remaining two hold mid- to high-level positions.
In addition, Adelson and his wife Miriam gave $10 million plus in donations while listing as their employer such entities as Adelson Drug Clinic, self-employed or the Interface Group, a holding company that used to run the Comdex computer conference.
The recipients of the Adelson empire political largesse are few and all Republican. Winning Our Future, a pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC, received $20 million. The Gingrich presidential campaign got $12,500. The Republican National Committee received $338,000, though some of that sum will probably be reimbursed since the donors seem to have contributed more than the legal limit. The Las Vegas Sands Corporation Political Action Committee (Sands PAC) was given more than $29,000. Nevada Senate candidate Dean Heller received almost $29,000. Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) received $26,000 in donations, while Shmuley Boteach, the Orthodox rabbi, reality-TV host turned Republican congressional candidate in New Jersey, received $12,500.
The figures do not include funds, as reported by The Huffington Post, that Adelson gave to several nonprofit groups, which are not required to disclose their donors. Nor does this include the funds Adelson is pledging to Mitt Romney's super PAC, which has yet to be recorded by the FEC.
Aaron Bycoffe and Zach Carter contributed reporting for this story.