Journalism in the Public Interest

Message Machine Update: A Cameo by Sheldon Adelson

On Saturday the Obama campaign sent an email to supporters mentioning Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul who has donated millions to Republican super PACs.


Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation Sheldon Adelson. (Aaron Tam/AFP/Getty Images)

On Saturday, the Obama campaign sent an email to supporters mentioning Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul who has donated millions to Republican super PACs. Politico noticed the email and noted that Adelson is becoming a useful fundraising pitch to the Obama reelection team.

This isn’t the first time Adelson’s name has been used to rally support — the Democratic Party sent out an email a few weeks ago that mentioned Adelson, and the Obama campaign quoted a Politico story about Adelson in an email they sent in late May.

In Saturday’s email, the campaign asked its supporters to donate between $3 and $250, depending on how much the supporter had donated before. One email sent mostly to women — in ProPublica’s sample — warned “Every time a billionaire like Sheldon Adelson drops $10 million into our opponent’s lap like it’s nothing, it becomes even clearer that we can only win by building the strongest grassroots organization in history.” Another message focussed much less on Adelson and instead leveled an attack on Romney: “Romney is out of touch — he doesn’t understand the problems middle-class Americans face, and you can’t fix problems you don’t understand.”

Monday, the Romney campaign sent an email aimed at Barack Obama: “What would a second term under President Obama look like?” it asked, and then answered: “stifled economic growth, unacceptably high levels of unemployment, and an unstable economy.”

We only know of one version of the Romney campaign email. But that’s not necessarily because his campaign is any less sophisticated. The fact is, we aren’t yet getting enough Romney emails to be able to say much decisively about how the campaign is targetting supporters — and there’s something you can do about that.

Are you a Republican who gets campaign emails? Forward them to us! Do you have a Republican friend who gets campaign emails? Recruit them to forward the emails to us! All they have to do is forward any messages to and we’ll take care of the rest.

Neither campaign responded to our requests for comment.

Mark Isenberg

June 19, 2012, 2:51 p.m.

The fact is Mr. Adelson is very wealthy from his Sands Casino resorts both in Las Vegas,Bethlehem,Pa and abroad in Macau. He can do whatever he wants including his past support of Newt Gingrich who became a personal friend over their mutual support of Israel. ProPublica sometimes thinks we do not understand that big money is tainting campaigns. Actually,it is merely allowing more tv ads etc. and you do not have to be a college graduate to turn the sound down or change the channel if you are overwhelmed with negative ads. The Supreme Court allowed more big money to flow into campaigns and as much as the Obama folks want to talk about the grassroots small contributions,they take plenty of corporate checks,too,from Wall Street folks and Hollywood stars or executives.

How about running a story about Geroge Soros’s support of The administration and democratic causes.  Or maybe stories about Hollywood billionaires support of the administration.
The problem is that running for election and especially re election diminishes the presidents and congress’s their ability to act independantly and in favor of the people that elected them.. How about a single 6 year term for everyone.

Too bad that it cost’s so much to put one one of these idiots in office. It’s getting past the point where even Abe Lincoln couldn’t be elected!

donald wallace

June 19, 2012, 4:05 p.m.

Hmmm…why is it that the first two comments have so many punctuation errors, run-on sentences and sentence fragments?

There IS a solution…

Sheryl Stolzenberg

June 21, 2012, 1:15 p.m.

@John Siebel: we don’t need to limit terms as much as we need to limit the length of time that political ads are permitted to be run, as done in the UK.If ads can only be run for,say, a 2 month period before an actual election, not as much money is needed.There are only so many spaces for ads on TV, radio, websites and people’s front yards. Re the issue of rich guys buying our pols: I am less worried about them than I am about the boards of international corporations. Those dollars can ensure policies not in the US interest, only in the interest of the bottom lines of those corporations.

Scott Spencer

July 11, 2012, 2:24 p.m.

All political campaign advertising should be illegal.  Print & digital ads can be filtered/blocked by the public effectively, but it’s still not as intrusive as TV and radio.  Debates, town hall meetings and campaign stump speeches is where all the mud slinging should begin -and- end.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Buying Your Vote

Buying Your Vote: Dark Money and Big Data

ProPublica is following the money and exploring campaign issues you won't read about elsewhere.

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