Billionaire GOP Financiers Split on Syria

Sheldon Adelson and David Koch are on opposite sides.

FILE - In this June 7, 2011 file photo shows Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson waves in Hong Kong. Get ready to find out who the millionaires are behind this year's presidential election. Now, for the first time since they started shaping the campaign in earnest, many of those "super" political action committees are set to disclose just who is financing their pseudo-campaign operations. Many took advantage of a change in federal rules that essentially let them shield their donors' identities until after key primary elections in January. But they still must submit their financial reports to the Federal Election Commission by Tuesday.
National Journal
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Shane Goldmacher
Sept. 4, 2013, 10:43 a.m.

Some of the biggest money­men in Re­pub­lic­an polit­ics are di­vided over how to pro­ceed against Syr­ia, with casino mag­nate Shel­don Ad­el­son on one side and con­ser­vat­ive busi­ness­man and fin­an­ci­er Dav­id Koch on the oth­er.

The di­vi­sion high­lights how the up­com­ing vote on strik­ing Syr­ia in Con­gress has not only polit­ic­al and policy con­sequences for the 2016 pres­id­en­tial race — but po­ten­tial fin­an­cial ones, as well.

On Wed­nes­day, the Re­pub­lic­an Jew­ish Co­ali­tion, where Ad­el­son is chair­man of the board, sent an “ac­tion alert” to its mem­bers, ur­ging them to call their con­gress­men and sen­at­ors to sup­port mil­it­ary strikes against Syr­ia. Ad­el­son, a pro-Is­rael hawk, was one of the biggest spend­ers in the 2012 pres­id­en­tial con­test, pour­ing $15 mil­lion in­to a su­per PAC that sup­por­ted Newt Gin­grich and then tens of mil­lions of dol­lars more to one back­ing Mitt Rom­ney after he se­cured the GOP nom­in­a­tion.

The board of the Re­pub­lic­an Jew­ish Co­ali­tion is filled with oth­er prom­in­ent GOP donors, in­clud­ing hedge fund man­ager Paul Sing­er.

On the oth­er side is Dav­id Koch, who, along with his broth­er, has be­come one of the main fin­an­cial fun­ders of the op­pos­i­tion to Pres­id­ent Obama and the Demo­crat­ic Party. In an in­ter­view with Ya­hoo! News last week, Koch said Obama would be “dead wrong” to or­der a strike against Syr­ia.

“I do not think we should get in­volved in at­tacks on Syr­ia. It’s like put­ting your head in­to a hor­net’s nest,” Koch said, while at­tend­ing an Amer­ic­ans for Prosper­ity con­fer­ence, a con­ser­vat­ive group he helps fund. “You’re go­ing to get shot at from all dir­ec­tions. There’s all this talk about at­tack­ing the bad guys in Syr­ia, but whom do you at­tack?”

Of the po­ten­tial GOP 2016 pres­id­en­tial field, Sen. Rand Paul of Ken­tucky has come out most force­fully against in­ter­ven­tion in Syr­ia. Sen. Marco Ru­bio, R-Fla., who sits on the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, is still on the fence. He spoke force­fully on Tues­day about how the out­come in Syr­ia is tied to Amer­ic­an se­cur­ity but skep­tic­ally about how a lim­ited strike would serve U.S. in­terests in the re­gion.

Those 2016 hope­fuls out­side of Wash­ing­ton D.C. have more lee­way to avoid the thorny top­ic. As New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie said earli­er this week, “I’m go­ing to leave that to the people who rep­res­ent us in Con­gress.”


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