The man who blew £100m on Mitt Romney
Spare a thought for Sheldon Adelson, the son of a Boston cab driver and America’s 12th richest man. Financially, he’s the week’s biggest loser. He pledged to spend mind-blowing sums to put Mitt Romney (someone he considers a true friend of capitalism) in the White House – and spend he certainly did.
Adelson is chairman of the giant Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which owns what The Times calls the “fabulously gawdy” Venetian Hotel, a “colossal replica” of the Venetian hotel in Macau. With the biggest casino in the world and no fewer than three canals running through it and round it, the hotel is the principal source of Adelson’s $20bn fortune.
Estimates vary as to how much money he blew on this election; probably at least £100m. By September he had spent $70m on Republican groups, and he didn’t stop there. It’s emerged, says The Times, that he “was linked to a hitherto unknown group that spent $1.7m on anti-Obama advertisements” on just one day last week.
“The sums are eye-watering even by American standards,” says The Times, and they are unprecedented because this was the first presidential election in which donations for political advertising could be unlimited so long as they went to ‘independent’ action committees rather than direct to candidates.
So what did Adelson expect to get by giving all this money? He says nothing at all: he would have asked for no special favours from Romney except for a proper helping of potato pancakes when invited to a White House Hanukkah party.
“I wouldn’t claim to know what goes on in Sheldon Adelson’s head,” says John Smith, a Las Vegas columnist. “I do know, however, that his company is faced with multiple federal criminal investigations, which is a rarity even given the extremely colourful history of legalised casino gambling in Nevada.”
Trevor Abrahmsohn is no ordinary estate agent. He deals only with the very top end of the market. “For 38 years, he has been selling homes in Bishops Avenue,” says Christopher Middleton in The Daily Telegraph. “In this well-groomed neck of the north London woods, houses are the size of supertankers.” Indeed. I remember when, 30 years ago, Bishops Avenue was known as Millionaires’ Row. Now it’s Billionaires’ Row.
Abrahmsohn’s career reflects the change. His first sale was for £2m in the seventies; his newest property, Heath Hall, is on the market for £100m. Along the way he’s had plenty of tricky moments – one was a deal in which buyer and seller reached an impasse. “A developer was selling two apartments for £20m, but he and the buyer could not agree on the exact price,” says Abrahmsohn. “The buyer had a plane to catch, and was in a hurry. So I asked them to spin a coin for a million pounds. They spun. The developer lost, but the deal went through.”
Tabloid money… “Fill your boots, Pat, you grizzled, corrupt old thug”
• “The Coalition’s continued dithering over London’s airport runway crisis is deeply irresponsible,” says The Sun. “Everyone knows runway capacity must be boosted if the capital’s airports are to compete internationally. There simply is no alternative.”
"George Osborne “has already decided developing Stansted is the best option. But a final decision will be put on hold until 2015 – to avoid upsetting the Lib Dems’ climate agenda. Once again, a vital initiative that will help kick-start the economy is being undermined. By a pie-in-the-sky protest party.”
• “So, ten million quid’s worth of aid to that wonderful country, Uganda, went missing. And then it turned up,” says Rod Liddle in The Sun. “Where do you think it was found? In a dusty and remote village to pay for sanitation? In a Kampala hospital...? You know, I doubt it will come as a grave shock to you, but it was found in the fairly deep pockets of Uganda’s prime minister, Patrick Amama Mbabazi.
"The mutton-headed Third World despot had siphoned the dosh into the bank accounts of his close trusted aides. Patrick probably thought he was being pretty frugal, all things considered – he only nicked ten million quid. The previous boss of this corrupt rathole stole 30 million quid in order to buy himself a nice Gulfstream jet, while his countrymen lived in grinding poverty. But Patrick will have a chance to catch up because we’re giving the Ugandans 98 million quid this year. Fill your boots, Pat, you grizzled and corrupt old thug.”
• The rebellion over Europe has changed everything, says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. “From now on, no prime minister, Tory or Labour, can quell the head of steam building across all parties for an in/out referendum. As the euro crisis turns into catastrophe for tens of millions of jobless and destitute Club Med citizens, the verdict can only be out... Nick Clegg and Ken Clarke can wail all they like... “ There is nothing Brussels’ leaders can do to soften the hostility voters feel, both here and on the Continent.