by Matt Isaacs, Lowell Bergman and Stephen Engelberg July 16, 2012, 11:30 a.m.

This story was co-published with PBS' "Frontline."

A decade ago gambling magnate and leading Republican donor Sheldon Adelson looked at a desolate spit of land in Macau and imagined a glittering strip of casinos, hotels and malls.

Where competitors saw obstacles, including Macau's hostility to outsiders and historic links to Chinese organized crime, Adelson envisaged a chance to make billions.

Adelson pushed his chips to the center of the table, keeping his nerve even as his company teetered on the brink of bankruptcy in late 2008.

The Macau bet paid off, propelling Adelson into the ranks of the mega-rich and underwriting his role as the largest Republican donor in the 2012 campaign, providing tens of millions of dollars to Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and other GOP causes.

Now, some of the methods Adelson used in Macau to save his company and help build a personal fortune estimated at $25 billion have come under expanding scrutiny by federal and Nevada investigators, according to people familiar with both inquiries.

Internal email and company documents, disclosed here for the first time, show that Adelson instructed a top executive to pay about $700,000 in legal fees to Leonel Alves, a Macau legislator whose firm was serving as an outside counsel to Las Vegas Sands.

The company's general counsel and an outside law firm warned that the arrangement could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It is unknown whether Adelson was aware of these warnings. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bars American companies from paying foreign officials to "affect or influence any act or decision" for business gain.

Federal investigators are looking at whether the payments violate the statute because of Alves' government and political roles in Macau, people familiar with the inquiry said. Investigators were also said to be separately examining whether the company made any other payments to officials. An email by Alves to a senior company official, disclosed by the Wall Street Journal, quotes him as saying "someone high ranking in Beijing" had offered to resolve two vexing issues — a lawsuit by a Taiwanese businessman and Las Vegas Sands' request for permission to sell luxury apartments in Macau. Another email from Alves said the problems could be solved for a payment of $300 million. There is no evidence the offer was accepted. Both issues remain unresolved.

According to the documents, Alves met with local politicians and officials on behalf of Adelson's company, Las Vegas Sands, to discuss several issues that complicated the company's efforts to raise cash in 2008 and 2009.

Soon after Alves said he would apply what he termed "pressure" on local planning officials, the company prevailed on a key request, gaining permission to sell off billions of dollars of its real estate holdings in Macau.

Las Vegas Sands denies any wrongdoing. But it has told investors that it is under criminal investigation for possible violations of the U.S. anti-bribery law. Adelson declined to respond to detailed questions, including whether he was aware of the concerns about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act when he directed payment of the bill from Alves' law firm.

The documents depict Adelson as a hands-on manager, overseeing details of the company's foray into Macau, which is now the world's gambling capital.

They show that Alves helped the company address a crucial issue: Adelson's frayed relations with officials in Macau and mainland China.

Alves met with prominent Macau officials on Las Vegas Sands' behalf, emails show. When Adelson made a three-day trip to Beijing, Alves accompanied him, billing more than $18,000 for his services.

Alves promoted himself to Adelson as someone "uniquely situated both as counsel and legislator to 'help' us in Macau," according to an email written by a Las Vegas Sands executive.

The then-general counsel of Las Vegas Sands warned that large portions of the invoices submitted by Alves in 2009 were triple what had been initially agreed and far more than could be justified by the legal work performed.

"I understand that what they are seeking is approx $700k," the general counsel wrote to the company's Macau executives in an email in late 2009. "If correct, that will require a lot of explaining given what our other firms are charging and given the FCPA," the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Adelson, described by Forbes Magazine as the largest foreign investor in China, ultimately ordered executives to pay Alves the full amount he had requested, according to an email that quotes his instructions.

Alves holds three public positions. He sits on the local legislature. He belongs to a 10-member council that advises Macau's chief executive, the most powerful local administrator. And he's a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a group that advises China's central government.

Alves did not respond to detailed questions from reporters about his activities on behalf of Las Vegas Sands, saying in an email that the work he had done — "legal services" — was unrelated to his government positions. "I would never use my public offices to benefit the company, nor have I been asked to," Alves wrote.

Several Las Vegas Sands executives resigned or were fired after expressing concerns about Alves' billings. These include Las Vegas Sands' general counsel and two top executives at Sands China, its Macau subsidiary.

Alves briefly severed his relationship with the company in early 2010, according to internal documents, but was rehired months later as outside counsel, a role he still plays.

The internal Las Vegas Sands documents were obtained by reporters working for the University of California's Investigative Reporting Program as part of an ongoing collaboration with ProPublica and PBS Frontline.

The documents include dozens of emails, billing invoices, memos and reports that circulated among top executives of Las Vegas Sands and its attorneys. The documents were provided by people who had authorized access to them. They offer important glimpses of the company's dealings in Macau and China, but are not a complete archive.

One invoice, for example, notes that Alves billed $25,000 for "expenses" in Beijing with no further explanation.

The documents shed new light on an issue separate from Alves' work: the company's difficulties in avoiding contact with Chinese organized crime figures as it built its casino business in Macau.

Nevada law bars licensed casino operators from associating with members of organized crime. State investigators are now assessing whether Las Vegas Sands complied with that rule in its Macau operations, people familiar with the inquiry said.

William Weidner, president of Las Vegas Sands from 1995 to 2009, said he understood from the beginning that opening casinos in Macau meant dealing with "junkets" — companies that arrange gambling trips for high rollers.

Gambling is illegal in mainland China, as is the transfer of large sums of money to Macau. The junkets solve those problems, providing billions of dollars in credit to gamblers. When necessary, they collect gambling debts, a critical function since China's courts are not permitted to force losers to pay up.

Weidner said junkets are a natural result of China's controls on the movement of money out of the country, channeling as much as $3 billion a month from the mainland to Macau.

"To Westerners, the junkets mean money laundering equated with organized crime or drugs," he said. "In China where money is controlled, it's part of doing business."

Weidner resigned from the company after a bitter dispute with Adelson.

Nevada officials are now poring over records of transactions between junkets, Las Vegas Sands and other casinos licensed by the state, people familiar with the inquiry say. Among the junket companies under scrutiny is a concern that records show was financed by Cheung Chi Tai, a Hong Kong businessman.

Cheung was named in a 1992 U.S. Senate report as a leader of a Chinese organized crime gang, or triad. A casino in Macau owned by Las Vegas Sands granted tens of millions of dollars in credit to a junket backed by Cheung, documents show. Cheung did not respond to requests for comment.

Another document says that a Las Vegas Sands subsidiary did business with Charles Heung, a well-known Hong Kong film producer who was identified as an office holder in the Sun Yee On triad in the same 1992 Senate report. Heung, who has repeatedly denied any involvement in organized crime, did not return phone calls.

Allegations about the company's dealings with Alves as well as its purported ties to organized crime are prominently mentioned in a 2010 lawsuit filed by Steven Jacobs, former CEO of Sands China.

In the suit, Jacobs contends he was fired after multiple disputes with Adelson, which included the continued employment of Alves and the company's dealings with junkets.

Las Vegas Sands declined to respond to detailed questions about the emails, billing invoices or purported relationships with organized crime figures including Cheung and Heung. Nor would it comment on the federal or Nevada investigations.

Adelson told investors last year that the federal investigation was based on false allegations by disgruntled former employees attempting to blackmail his company.

"When the smoke clears, I am absolutely not 100 percent but 1,000 percent positive that there won't be any fire below it," he said, adding that what investigators will ultimately find "is a foundation of lies and fabrications."

At least one prominent Republican has expressed concern about the source of Adelson's campaign contributions. "Much of Mr. Adelson's casino profits that go to him come from his casino in Macau," Sen. John McCain noted in an interview last month with the PBS "NewsHour."

"Maybe in a roundabout way, foreign money is coming into an American political campaign," said McCain, an Arizona Republican.

The questions raised by McCain and others have not prevented Adelson, the self-made son of a Boston cabdriver, from emerging as a powerful political figure in both Israel and the United States. A longtime backer of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel, Adelson created a free daily newspaper, now Israel's largest, that supports the policies of Netanyahu's Likud Party.

His family's $25 million in contributions kept Newt Gingrich in the presidential race. He has been widely reported as donating $10 million to a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney. A "well-placed source" recently told Forbes Magazine that Adelson's willingness to financially support Romney was "limitless." A filing with the Federal Election Commission last night shows that Adelson and his wife, Miriam, gave $5 million to the "YG Action Fund,'' a super PAC linked to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican.

* * *

Macau's emergence in the 21st century as the biggest gambling center in the world, with $33.5 billion in annual revenue — four times that of Las Vegas — is a matter of history and geography.

A former Portuguese colony, the tiny peninsula was handed over to China in 1999. It has its own legislature, laws, court system and chief executive, all of which exist under the umbrella of Chinese control.

For generations, profits from Chinese gambling flowed primarily to a single local company. But after China took control, authorities agreed to let foreign companies get a piece of the action.

Las Vegas Sands was among more than a dozen companies to apply for a license. Its plans were among the most expansive, calling for an American-style complex of hotels, casinos, shopping malls and luxury apartments.

The first of four Las Vegas Sands casinos, the Sands Macau, opened its doors in 2004. It was immediately successful as well-heeled gamblers from the mainland flocked to the tables.

Over the next several years, the company pushed ahead with its multibillion-dollar construction projects on a strip of reclaimed land known as Cotai.

But in the summer of 2008, Las Vegas Sands faced a cash crunch. The global economic slowdown hit revenues at its casinos in Nevada. And gambling slowed in Macau after China's central government abruptly cut down on the number of visas it granted for travel to the region. Suddenly, the company was struggling to make payments on billions of dollars in long-term debt.

Executives at Las Vegas Sands began looking at ways to raise cash in Macau. To do this, the company would need some help from local officials.

It wasn't clear they would get it.

In China, relationships, or guanxi, can make or break an empire. Adelson's relationships in Macau and China were frayed. George Koo, a member of the Las Vegas Sands board of directors, wrote in a confidential memo that Adelson's behavior had offended political figures in both Macau and China.

Koo quoted a prominent Macau official as saying Adelson had "slapped the table in front of Edmund Ho," Macau's chief executive. "Supposedly, Ho has said that he will not see SGA anymore," the memo said, using Adelson's initials.

Accompanied by Alves, Koo met with the Macau chief executive over lunch. According to Koo's memo, Ho expressed his regret that Adelson "has burned so many bridges with Beijing," the memo said.

According to Koo's account, a top Chinese official overseeing Macau named Liao Hui was so angry at Adelson that he refused to meet with him. It is not clear from the memo what caused the rupture, but Koo said Adelson turned to "the Israeli military to arrange a meeting with Liao" who initially agreed but then said he would only send his deputy. No meeting ever took place, the document says.

Weidner, who resigned as president of Las Vegas Sands in March 2009, said in an interview that Adelson was "out of his element" dealing with Chinese officials.

Weidner recalled struggling to explain Adelson's style to the Chinese, once comparing his boss to a famous emperor who became angry with China's scholars and buried them alive with their books. "I would tell them: 'He is brilliant. Sometimes, like the emperor, he is brutal.'"

Leonel Alves seemed to be an ideal person to smooth relations.

A Macau native, born of a Portuguese father and a Chinese mother, the attorney had been a fixture in the local scene for decades, and was nimble in the face of shifting political tides.

In the years leading up to Portugal's handover of its onetime colony to China in 1999, he was among a select group of local residents chosen to serve on the transition team.

Alves became a Chinese citizen and dedicated himself to learning China's official dialect, Mandarin, to complement his fluency in Portuguese, English and Cantonese. His legal practice was already successful. He boasted to local reporters of his car collection, which included a Ferrari and a BMW M3.

Las Vegas Sands put Alves' law firm on retainer in midsummer 2008, naming him as an outside counsel. Documents show his firm was to be paid $37,500 a month for 80 hours of work, with additional hours to be billed at a rate of more than $550 an hour.

Over the years, the Justice Department has made it clear that American companies can employ foreign officials. But companies have been told they must take great care and create safeguards to prevent such officials from using their position or political standing to gain commercial advantage.

T. Markus Funk, a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm and co-chair of the American Bar Association Global Anti-Corruption Initiatives Task Force, declined to discuss the specifics of the Las Vegas Sands inquiry. But he said companies generally avoid hiring sitting local officials as lobbyists or representatives because of the risk that they will improperly end up wielding their influence.

"It would be a huge red flag," said Funk. "If you are paying someone because you think they are going to have a questionable backroom discussion, essentially a quid pro quo relationship, that's a no-no. You can get yourself in big trouble pretty quickly."

In response to written questions, Alves said in an email that his political career has never conflicted with "my profession as a lawyer." He said his office had "been scrutinized by the Chinese and American authorities like few have in Macau, and no authority has ever had any suspicion."

Alves noted that his multiple government posts did not "confer to me any executive and administrative power" or the ability to "influence" what he described as "the relevant authorities."

U.S. companies sometimes ask the Justice Department in advance for an opinion on whether a particular hire constitutes a violation of the law. It is not known if Las Vegas Sands posed such a question about Alves. Funk, a former federal prosecutor, said that a company following "best practices" would look closely at both the size of the proposed payments and the procedures put in place to assure compliance.

"I'd want to make sure the individual is getting paid an appropriate scale," Funk said. "I'd want to get some assurance he was familiar with the FCPA and had agreed to abide by its terms. I'd want a code of conduct in place and I'd want to see detailed billing statements."

One of the first issues Alves addressed was Las Vegas Sands' request for permission from local authorities to sell a mall and 300 luxury apartments it had built next to one of its casinos, the Four Seasons Macau.

The company's original agreement with the government did not allow it to break up the property into separate pieces for sale. If Sands could amend the agreement, it would open the way to raise billions.

On Aug. 12, 2008, Alves wrote an email to Luis Melo, who was then Las Vegas Sands' in-house counsel in Macau. He wrote that he was planning to meet with local officials to "monitor and apply pressure" to what he called the "revision process" of the "land concession contract." It is not known whether the meeting took place or what, if anything, Alves said to other officials in the government.

In late September, the secretary of Macau's Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau declared that Las Vegas Sands had to abide by its original contract with Macau, which did not permit the property to be sold separately.

"The terms in the concession contract are very clear and any move must be according to what is written in the contract," he said, according to a report in The Macau Daily Times.

That statement came at a critical moment for Las Vegas Sands. With the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the United States, even the most solvent companies were finding it impossible to borrow. At the end of September, Adelson staked his company $475 million of his own money.

In October, planning officials handed Las Vegas Sands much of what it was seeking. They said they would allow the property to be divided into four parts: the casino, the apartment complex, the mall and a parking garage. Each could be sold separately. In their decision, Macau officials said they were trying to help Las Vegas Sands address its need for more capital.

The company portrayed the decision as a victory and said it "paves the way" for the sale of the 300 luxury apartments.

The company's financial condition continued to worsen. It halted construction on its massive projects in Cotai. In November 2008, Adelson kicked in another $525 million of his own money. That month, the company told investors it was in danger of defaulting on $5.2 billion in loans. Such a default, auditors warned, could threaten the company's survival.

Ultimately, Las Vegas Sands did not sell the apartment building or mall. (It continues to seek final permission to sell individual apartments.) The company moved to raise capital through another route: an initial public offering of stock on the Hong Kong exchange that, it was hoped, would bring in billions of dollars.

Once again, local law posed challenges to the company's plans. And once again, Alves stepped forward to help.

* * *

One key to Las Vegas Sands' survival in Macau was its ability to whisk customers from Hong Kong to the doors of its casinos. The long-established ferry route unloads its passengers in downtown Macau, about a three-mile drive from Adelson's casinos in Cotai.

Las Vegas Sands had created its own ferry service, Cotai Waterjets, which dropped gamblers at a dock just a short shuttle ride from its casinos.

But the future of Cotai Waterjets was unclear. A competing ferry service had filed a complaint alleging the government had improperly awarded the concession to Las Vegas Sands without competitive bidding.

In February 2009, a Macau court agreed, voiding the contract.

Alves set to work. In the spring of 2009, he arranged what a billing invoice from his firm describes as "meetings and contacts with the Macau Government."

On Oct. 19, 2009, Alves met with Edmund Ho, Macau's chief executive, and Fernando Chui Sai On, Ho's soon-to-be successor. (Ho was the Macau official who had purportedly refused to meet with Adelson.)

It is not known what was discussed. Alves billed Las Vegas Sands for two hours of his time, according to his invoice.

Also that day, Alves billed for more than an hour of phone calls with company executives, his invoices show.

Las Vegas Sands was explicit about what was at stake, telling Hong Kong investors in a public filing that loss of the ferry concession "could result in a significant loss of visitors to our Cotai Strip properties." This would have a "material adverse effect on our business," the company said.

Within days of Alves' meeting with Ho, Las Vegas Sands won a stunning victory. Ho issued an administrative regulation that allowed ferry contracts to be awarded without competitive bidding. The court rulings against the company were moot. Las Vegas Sands retained control of its route and ultimately obtained several new ones.

Attempts to reach Ho were unsuccessful.

The initial public offering launched in late November 2009, raising $2.5 billion for Las Vegas Sands.

Alves remains a member of the Executive Council. He declined to discuss his interactions with Ho or the council.

* * *

Just as Sands was resolving several of its thornier legal issues, a dispute erupted among its executives over Alves that had far-reaching consequences.

It began on Oct. 20, 2009, shortly before the ferry decision was announced, with a seemingly routine event: Alves' firm submitted bills for its recent work.

The firm said it was charging at triple the previously agreed rate to account for the work it had done on the public offering, scheduled for the following month. In an email, Las Vegas Sands' in-house lawyer in Macau, Luis Melo, objected, noting the invoices were "not in accordance" with the letter which spelled out the financial terms of Alves' retainer.

The issue reached the desk of J. Alberto Gonzalez-Pita, general counsel at Las Vegas Sands headquarters in Nevada. In an email, Gonzalez-Pita expressed concern about a sudden request for more money from an outside lawyer who was also a foreign official, saying such a payment would require "a lot of explaining."

With the bill still unpaid, Alves submitted his resignation effective in February 2010.

An internal email shows he continued to report privately to Adelson, delivering at least one message from the company's chairman and CEO to Macau's government.

Separately, he also pushed to return to Sands China.

In March, Alves submitted a new proposal, asking to be paid $125,000 a month with no obligation to provide billing details, internal records show.

Gonzalez-Pita, the Las Vegas general counsel, rejected the idea. "It's outrageous," he wrote. "Our corporate retainer with Paul Weiss is almost three times less per month," he said, referring to the company's outside counsel, New York-based Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Gonzalez-Pita elaborated a week later.

"I continue to believe this proposal to be inappropriate, unrealistic, extraordinarily expensive and way above market," he wrote to Jacobs, the CEO of Sands China who had originally been recruited to handle the IPO. "Been a long time since I've seen a lawyer or a firm make as naked a power play as has LA," Leonel Alves. "He sure has chutzpah."

Jacobs decided against rehiring Alves. "Let's talk about a replacement for outside counsel," he wrote in a March 10, 2010, email to Melo, Sands China's general counsel in Macau.

"The transition will not be easy ... and has a high probability of becoming messy ... but it is the right thing to do for the business," he wrote.

Jacobs told Alves that he would not be retained, emails show.

The same day, Jacobs informed colleagues that he had paid the disputed invoices after Alves submitted a more detailed account of the work he had done on the public offering. Jacobs wrote to Gonzalez-Pita that he had been "instructed by SGA and MAL to pay and close out the matter."

The initials SGA and MAL are used within the company to refer to Sheldon G. Adelson and Michael A. Leven, the president of Las Vegas Sands.

"I am sorry that this was not communicated to you but I am glad that FCPA outside counsel did not highlight any substantial issue with the payment," Jacobs wrote.

Gonzalez-Pita replied that Jacobs was mistaken and that the company's outside lawyer had identified the payments as a possible violation of the U.S. anti-bribery law.

"Unfortunately," Gonzalez-Pita wrote to Jacobs: "FCPA counsel did highlight a problem" with paying Alves anything more than his normal fees "plus a commercially reasonable premium."

"While I can appreciate that you received instructions to make the payment," Gonzalez-Pita wrote on March 12. "I wish you would have advised me so I could have intervened."

Gonzalez-Pita resigned from the company in April 2010.

On July 23, Las Vegas Sands fired Jacobs. A month later, the company dismissed Melo and the rest of the legal team in Macau, according to the lawsuit Jacobs subsequently filed in Nevada.

In that action, Jacobs said he was dismissed for refusing Adelson's "illegal demands," including an order that he fire Melo and replace him with Alves. Las Vegas Sands said in court briefs that it fired Jacobs for disobeying orders and working on unauthorized deals.

The company rehired Alves as outside counsel in the fall of 2010, a position he still holds. It is not known how much he is being paid.

In April of this year, Sands China opened Cotai Central, the $4 billion project it had temporarily abandoned in 2008, when the company stood at the brink. Within six hours of the opening, Sands China reported, more than 84,000 people pushed through the new casino's doors.

Matt Isaacs and Lowell Bergman reported on this story for the Investigative Reporting Program of the University of California and PBS Frontline. Some of their work was underwritten by a grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Engelberg is managing editor of ProPublica.

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    The Republican Governors Association, a 527 political committee currently headed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, gave $8,305,000 to the super PAC RGA Right Direction. William Koch, the lesser-known Koch brother, and two of his companies, petroleum, energy and minerals companies Oxbow Carbon and Huron Carbon, gave $4 million to Restore Our Future (backing Romney) and $500,000 to America 360 Committee.

  • James Simons (D)

    James Simons, the billionaire chairman of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, gave $7.5 million to super PACs. Simons is ranked 30 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $10.5 billion. Simons gave $3.5 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $3 million to Majority PAC, a super PAC that backs Democratic Senate candidates, and $1 million to House Majority PAC, backing Democratic House candidates.

  • AFL-CIO (D)

    The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest federation of unions, contributed $6,123,437 to super PACs. The federation, boasting 12.2 million members, is made up of 57 national and international labor unions. Its funds come from the dues paid by members. The AFL-CIO gave $5.95 million to its own super PAC, and that super PAC gave $100,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.

  • Specialty Group (R)

    This unknown, unlisted Knoxville, Tennessee company, Specialty Group Inc., made a massive $5.275 million contribution to FreedomWorks for America in early October. (Pictured: FreedomWorks for America, the group supporting by Specialty Group Inc's contribution.)

  • Robert Rowling And TRT Holdings (R)

    Robert Rowling, the Texas billionaire who runs the business holding company TRT Holdings, has contributed $5.135 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Rowling ranks 66 on <em>Forbes'</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $4.7 billion. He gave $5 million to American Crossroads, $100,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $35,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (supporting David Dewhurst).

  • American Federation Of State, County And Municipal Employees (D)

    The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the nation's largest public employee union with 1.6 million members, contributed $4,174,085 million to super PACs. AFSCME is very politically active in local and national politics. In 2011, it faced direct attacks in such states as Ohio and Wisconsin, when Republican governors sought to curtail collective bargaining rights for public employees. AFSCME gave $1 million to Majority PAC, $575,000 to American Bridge 21st Century, $986,788 to Workers' Voice, $529,630 to Moving Ohio Forward, $415,000 to House Majority PAC, $260,120 to America Votes Action Fund, $250,000 to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $200,000 to Working Families For Hawaii (supporting Mazie Hirono), $125,000 for Iowans for Integrity in Leadership, $100,000 to Committee to Elect An Effective Valley Congressman (supporting Howard Berman), $100,000 to Fair Share Action, $50,000 to the American Worker, $50,000 to Sierra Club Action, $50,000 to Ohio Families United, $44,900 to Working For Us PAC, $42,500 to Defend Our Homes, $25,000 to Women Vote!, $8,650 to Connecticut's Future PAC and $5,000 to Young Democrats for America.

  • Peter Thiel (R)

    Peter Thiel, the hedge fund manager, venture capitalist and early Facebook investor, has contributed $4.73 million to super PACs. Thiel, a radical libertarian, ranks 293 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.5 billion. The majority of Thiel's money, $2.73 million, has gone to Endorse Liberty, a super PAC supporting Ron Paul in the Republican presidential race. He has since switched his giving to Club for Growth Action, the super PAC of the ultra-conservative free market Club for Growth. Thiel has given $2 million to the Club super PAC.

  • William Koch, Oxbow Carbon And Huron Carbon (R)

    William Koch, the lesser-known Koch brother, and two of his companies, petroleum, energy and minerals companies Oxbow Carbon and Huron Carbon, gave $4 million to Restore Our Future (backing Romney) and $500,000 to America 360 Committee.

  • Joseph Craft And Alliance Management Holdings (R)

    Joseph Craft and his holding company, Alliance Management Holdings, gave $4.35 million to super PACs. Craft is ranked 331 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.3 billion. Alliance Management Holdings is a privately held company run by Craft with significant shares in the managing partner of Alliance Resource Partners. Craft and his company gave $3.35 million to American Crossroads and $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney).

  • Jerry Perenchio (R)

    Jerry Perenchio, founder of the Spanish language television network Univision, contributed $4.1 million to super PACs. Perenchio ranks 171 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $2.3 billion. Perenchio gave $2.5 million to American Crossroads, $1.5 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), and $100,000 to Our Destiny (supporting Jon Huntsman).

  • American Federation Of Teachers (D)

    The American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest union in the nation with 1.5 million members, gave $3,866,558 to super PACs. The union donated $1,116,558 to the AFL-CIO Workers' Voices PAC, $1 million to Majority PAC, $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $500,000 to House Majority PAC and $250,000 to DGA Action.

  • Robert And Rebekah Mercer (R)

    Robert Mercer (left), the co-CEO of the $15 billion hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, gave $3,804,354 million to super PACs. Robert Mercer contributed $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $1 million to American Crossroads, $600,000 to Club for Growth Action, $250,000 to Freedom PAC, $250,000 to Prosperity First, $239,354 to Republican Super PAC and $200,000 to National Horizon. Rebekah Mercer gave $50,000 to the Coalition for American Values and $15,000 to the Club for Growth.

  • Steve & Amber Mostyn (D)

    Steve and Amber Mostyn have contributed $3.428 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Steve, a multi-millionaire trial lawyer in Houston, Texas, and the president of the Texas Trial Lawyer Association, is a long-time donor to Democratic Party causes in both Texas and nationally. The Mostyns gave $2,003,850 to Priorities USA Action (supporting Obama), $1 million to House Majority PAC, $225,000 to Texans for America's Future and $200,000 to Planned Parenthood Votes.

  • Working for Working Americans (D)

    Working for Working Americans, a union-run super PAC, has contributed $3.375 million to other super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. The super PAC has given $2 million to House Majority PAC, $1.15 million to Majority PAC and $250,000 to Lunch Pail Republicans. (Pictured: Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, whose efforts Working for Working Americans' contributions are aiding.)

  • John Childs (R)

    John Childs, the head of the Boston-based private equity firm J.W. Childs & Associates, has contributed $3.375 million to super PACs. Childs has contributed $1.125 million to Club for Growth Action, $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), $1 million to American Crossroads and $250,000 to Congressional Leadership Fund.

  • Amy Goldman (D)

    Amy Goldman, the author and activist who has been called "perhaps the world's premier vegetable gardener," contributed $3.25 million to super PACs. Goldman is the heiress to the fortune of New York real estate titan Sol Goldman. Goldman gave $1.5 million to Planned Parenthood Votes, the super PAC of the women's health provider, $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $500,000 to House Majority PAC and $250,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.

  • United Association (D)

    The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing, Pipe Fitting and Sprinkler Fitting Industry, commonly known as United Association, has contributed $3,404,500 to super PACs in the 2012 election. United Association gave $2,191,500 to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $500,000 to Workers' Voice, $325,000 to Majority PAC, $313,000 to House Majority PAC and $75,000 to The American Worker.

  • Crow Holdings LLC, Harlan Crow and Trammell Crow (R)

    Crow Holdings LLC, which manages the wealth of the late real estate developer Trammel Crow, its director Harlan Crow and his brother Trammel S. Crow have contributed $3.16 million to super PACs. Harlan Crow, Trammel S. Crow and the company combined to give $1.5 million to American Crossroads, $1.3 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $250,000 to FreedomWorks for America, $50,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (supporting David Dewhurst), $35,000 to Campaign for Primary Accountability, $25,000 to American Unity PAC and $10,000 to Jan PAC.

  • Jeffrey Katzenberg (D)

    Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, has given gave $3.15 million to super PACs. Katzenberg's net worth is estimated to be above $800 million. Katzenberg has given $3 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting Barack Obama's reelection bid. He has also given $100,000 to Majority PAC, $25,000 to House Majority PAC and $25,000 to Committee to Elect An Effective Valley Congressman, the super PAC supporting Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), a staunch ally of Hollywood. Katzenberg is also a major fundraiser for the Obama reelection campaign, having brought in more than $500,000.

  • Communications Workers Of America (D)

    The Communications Workers of America, the largest telecommunications union in the world with a membership above 700,000, contributed $2,997,741 to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. The union donated $2,280,578 to the Communications Workers of America super PAC, $440,000 to Independent Source, $150,000 to House Majority PAC, $57,000 to Progressive Kick Independent Expenditures, $45,000 to American Worker and $28,163 to Workers' Voice.

  • John Ramsey (R)

    John Ramsey, a 21-year old college student who inherited millions from his banker grandfather, contributed $2.84 million to super PACs. The majority of the young libertarian's contributions went to his own super PAC, Liberty for All. Another $450 went to Revolution PAC, which supported Ron Paul for the Republican nomination for president.

  • Cooperative Of American Physicians (I)

    The <a href="http://www.capphysicians.com/about_us" target="_hplink">Cooperative of American Physicians</a> is a medical malpractice and medical liability insurer. The group has contributed $2.79 million to its own super PAC. No other information has been provided on the source of the funds contributed by the cooperative.

  • Dealer Computer Services, CRC Information Systems, Fairbanks Properties, & Waterbury Properties (Bob Brockman) (R)

    Four companies -- Dealer Computer Services, CRC Information Systems, Fairbanks Properties and Waterbury Properties -- sharing the same address as The Reynolds & Reynolds Company headed by Bob Brockman, have given $2.75 million to super PACs. CRC Information Systems, Fairbanks Properties and Waterbury Properties combined to give $1 million to Restore Our Future and another $1 million to American Crossroads. The Reynolds and Reynolds Company gave $500,000 to American Crossroads. Dealer Computer Services has given $200,000 to the pro-David Dewhurst Texas Conservatives Fund and $50,000 to Restoring Prosperity Fund.

  • Kenneth And Anne Griffin (R)

    Kenneth Griffin, the head of the massive hedge fund Citadel, has contributed $2.58 million to super PACs. Griffin is ranked 173rd on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans. In 2008, he helped raise money for then-Sen. Barack Obama during the Democratic primary, but switched to support Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the general election. Griffin has since become increasingly critical of President Obama and what he considers to be class warfare rhetoric coming from the White House. He stated that the wealthy have "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/11/ken-griffin-mitt-romney_n_1337721.html" target="_hplink">insufficient influence</a>" in politics and urged the rich to donate to political efforts to preserve their position atop the food chain. Griffin has given $1.55 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney) and $1 million to American Crossroads. His wife, Anne, gave $30,000 to the Campaign for Primary Accountability.

  • George Soros (D)

    George Soros, the noted hedge fund investor and long-time Democratic donor, has contributed $2.525 million to super PACs when including contributions that he gave in October. Soros became famous for his political contributions after he gave more than $30 million to 527 groups to defeat former President George W. Bush in 2004. He has reached a mythological status with some conservatives as a wildly influential figure in world politics. In reported contributions, Soros has given $1 million to American Bridge 21st Century, $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $425,000 to House Majority PAC and $100,000 to Majority PAC.

  • Foster Friess (R)

    Foster Friess, the Wyoming investor, contributed $2.52 million to super PACs, mostly to those supporting the presidential candidacy of Rick Santorum. Since Santorum dropped out of the race, Friess has shifted his contributions to help Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans. Friess is estimated to be worth above $500 million. He has given $2.1 million to Red White and Blue Fund (supporting Santorum), $100,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), $100,000 to FreedomWorks, $50,000 to Leaders for Families (also supporting Santorum), $50,000 to Freedom PAC, $25,000 to Friends of the Majority, $25,000 to USA Super PAC, $10,000 to Freedom Born Fund, $10,000 to Arizonans for Jobs, $10,000 for Independence Virginia PAC,$10,000 to Club for Growth Action, $5,000 to Fund for Freedom and $872 to Jan PAC.

  • Chevron (R)

    Chevron, one of the nation's five largest companies, gave $2.5 million to Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives.

  • Weaver Popcorn (R)

    Weaver Popcorn, the Indiana-based popcorn maker owned by Michael Weaver, has contributed $2.4 million to American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Republican operative Karl Rove. The company is one of the largest popcorn companies in the United States and is best known for their Pop Weaver brand.

  • Paul Singer (R)

    Paul Singer (pictured far right), the hedge fund titan in charge of Elliot Associates, contributed $2.258 million to super PACs through June 2012. Singer has an estimated worth of $900 million. He has given $1,158,211 million to American Unity, a super PAC meant to support pro-gay marriage Republican candidates for office, $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $100,000 to Club for Growth Action.

  • William Dore (R)

    William Dore, the Louisiana energy executive, gave $2.25 million to Red White and Blue Fund (supporting Santorum). This was the biggest foray into political giving by Dore, who has previously cut large checks for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Republican Governors Association. He is estimated to be worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Credit: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_KzFkneorU" target="_hplink">YouTube</a>

  • Jon Stryker (D)

    Jon Stryker, an architect and heir to the Stryker Corporation fortune, has contributed $2.25 million to super PACs. Stryker has given $2 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting Barack Obama, and $250,000 to House Majority PAC. Stryker is worth $1.1 billion and ranks 375th on the Fortune 400 richest Americans list. He is a noted GLBT activist having donated money to groups including the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. Stryker is also the founder of the Arcus Foundation, the largest grant maker for gay and lesbian activism in the nation. Stryker has spent big in the past to help elect Democrats and oust Republicans from office in his home state of Michigan. (Pictured: President Barack Obama, the candidate supported by Stryker's contribution.)

  • Julian Robertson (R)

    Julian Robertson, the hedge fund titan and founder of Tiger Management, contributed $2.25 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) in the current election cycle. Robertson is ranked 166 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $2.4 billion.

  • FreedomWorks (R)

    FreedomWorks, the conservative nonprofit organization, contributed $2,236,514 to its super PAC, FreedomWorks for America. The group is run by former Rep. Dick Armey and was instrumental in organizing the original Tea Party protests in 2009. The super PAC has been active in Republican Senate primaries backing Richard Mourdock's successful campaign to beat Sen. Dick Lugar in Indiana. The group also also thrown its weight behind Ted Cruz in Texas and Don Stenberg in Nebraska. Stenberg lost his primary to state Sen. Deb Fischer and Cruz faces a run-off election against Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. The group is also spending money to defeat Sen. Orrin Hatch in Utah. FreedomWorks has been spending money to help elect Tea Party Senate candidates like Cruz and Mourdock in the general election.

  • National Association Of Letter Carriers (D)

    The National Association of Letter Carriers' political action committee, the Committee on Letter Carriers Political Education Fund, gave $2,225,919 to super PACs during the 2012 election cycle. The union gave $1,213,919 to the AFL-CIO super PAC, Workers' Voice, $512,000 to House Majority PAC and $500,000 to Majority PAC.

  • Jon Huntsman Sr. (R)

    Jon Huntsman Sr., the billionaire Utah industrialist, contributed $2.22 million to a super PAC supporting the presidential candidacy of his son, Jon Huntsman Jr. Huntsman Sr. has given away much of his fortune in recent years and is estimated to be worth slightly north of $1 billion. Huntsman's contributions to Our Destiny, the super PAC backing his son in the Republican primary contest, came under scrutiny based on the laws banning coordination between super PACs and campaigns.

  • Irwin Jacobs (D)

    Irwin Jacobs, a founder of Qualcomm, has contributed $2.2 million to super PACs. Jacobs is worth $1.15 billion and ranks 372nd on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans. Jacobs has given $2 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama) $100,000 to Majority PAC and $100,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.

  • National Association of Realtors (I)

    The National Association of Realtors, the primary trade association for realtors, has contributed $2,110,485 to its own super PAC in the 2012 election cycle. The group has long been a player in congressional elections and has already spent significant amounts to help Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) hold his newly redistricted seat in the 2012 elections.

  • National Air Traffic Controllers Association (D)

    The National Air Traffic Controllers Association has given $2,106,597 to super PACs during the 2012 election cycle. The union represents 20,000 controllers, engineers and other professionals involved in air traffic control. The union gave $1.25 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $600,000 to Majority PAC, $156,597 to the AFL-CIO Workers' Voice and $100,000 to House Majority PAC.

  • Warren Stephens, Stephens Investment Holding & Stephens Inc. (R)

    Warren Stephens, the head of Stephens, Inc., has contributed $2.05 million to super PACs. Stephens is tied for the position of 130th richest American, according to Forbes. Stephens has given $1.5 million to American Crossroads, $500,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $50,000 to Congressional Leadership Fund. (Pictured: Stephens, right, with President George W. Bush.)

  • Laborers' International Union (D)

    The Laborers' International Union, which represents a half-million construction workers, has given $2.025 million to super PACs. The union gave $1.3 million to House Majority PAC, $650,000 to Majority PAC, $70,000 to Workers' Voice and $5,000 to The American Worker.

  • Richard Roberts (R)

    Richard Roberts, an adviser at Mutual Pharmacy, has given $2.1 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Roberts gave $1 million to Treasure Coast Jobs Coalition, $750,000 to Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, $250,000 to American Crossroads and $10,000 to Patriot Prosperity PAC. (Pictured: Mitt Romney, the candidate supported by Roberts' contribution.)

  • The Morses, The Villages & Other Companies (R)

    H. Gary Morse, his wife, their children, the retirement community they operate, The Villages, and a number of subsidiary companies have combined to contribute $2,003,400 to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. The Morses and their companies contributed $1,753,400 to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), $200,000 to American Crossroads and $50,000 to Freedom PAC (supporting Connie Mack). H. Gary Morse is part of Romney's Florida finance team and has hosted fundraisers for the former Massachusetts governor. The family's super PAC giving has all gone to support Romney's bid. Through September, a series of subsidiary companies controlled by The Villages and H. Gary Morse contributed $1.25 million to Restore Our Future and American Crossroads.

  • Anne Cox Chambers (D)

    Anne Cox Chambers, the owner of the media company Cox Enterprises, has contributed $2 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing President Barack Obama. Chambers is also the daughter of failed 1920 Democratic presidential nominee James Cox. Chambers is the 26th richest American, according to the Forbes 400 list, with a net worth of $12 billion.