by Eli Clifton
Since nuclear diplomacy with Iran heated up, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) has played an important role in organizing Republican opposition to a potential deal between the P5+1 and Iran. The RJC, for example, endorsed John Boehner’s (R-OH) unilateral invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (even running an ad campaign promoting the speech before Congress earlier this year). It also vetted potential Republican presidential candidates at the organization’s annual convention held at billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas two months ago.
In this opposition, the RJC represents a minority of Jewish Americans (59% support a nuclear deal with Iran and 46% view the Democratic Party favorably while only 20% view the Republican Party favorably, according to a nationwide poll released earlier this month). But the group’s name implies that it represents a cross-section of Jewish Republicans. Documents reviewed by LobeLog, however, reveal that the RJC’s budget during the 2012 calendar year was overwhelmingly funded by one $5.1 million contribution. That contribution accounted for more than half—54 percent—of the group’s grant revenue during the last presidential election year.
The remaining contributions were far more modest. The next largest contributions came in at $700,000, $300,000, $275,000, and $105,000, respectively.
So who is the mystery donor providing over half the budget to the RJC’s efforts to “sensitize Republican leadership in government and the Party to the concerns and issues of the Jewish community,” as the group’s mission statement reads?
Sheldon Adelson, the RJC’s wealthiest “director” and figurehead at the annual conference, seems like a likely candidate. Adelson is vociferously opposed to a nuclear deal with Iran—even going so far as to reject negotiating with Iran in favor of firing nuclear weapons at them. He’s a major funder of other groups opposed to the deal, including but not limited to United Against Nuclear Iran, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the Zionist Organization of America. Adelson also supports Netanyahu and was treated as a guest of honor during his controversial address to congress.
When I asked if the massive donation came from Adelson and his wife, Miriam, RJC communication director Mark McNulty told me, “We don’t comment on anything concerning our donors. I’d refer you to the [sic] Sheldon’s folks for comment.” Adelson’s family foundation didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether he made the contribution.
The RJC’s list of contributions, with names removed, can be viewed here.
Photo of Sheldon Adelson via Flickr (courtesy of East Coast Gambler)