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Donors keep campaign alive

   Billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his family, who have kept Newt Gingrich’s flagging presidential campaign alive with donations, seem poised to send millions of dollars to Republican-allied groups and possibly a “super” political action committee backing front-runner Mitt Romney, according to fundraisers with ties to the casino owner.
A private dinner March 22 at Adelson’s Las Vegas home drew the chairman of the Republican National Committee plus some of the GOP’s best-known fundraisers and donors. The diners were in Las Vegas early for a weekend summit of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group that Adelson has backed heavily.

  During the soiree, the Adelson family members privately sent strong signals to Romney allies that they’d donate millions of dollars, perhaps on par with their support for Gingrich, to a super PAC that has heavily supported the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign for the GOP presidential nomination _ assuming that Gingrich eventually drops out. Gingrich is badly trailing and as of the end of March, his campaign was in debt.

   The big-name attendees at Adelson’s dinner included Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, who now chairs a super PAC and a nonprofit group raising millions of dollars to help House Republican candidates.

   Also in attendance were Florida real estate magnate Mel Sembler, St. Louis investor Sam Fox and Washington lobbyist Wayne Berman. The three men are Republican Jewish Coalition board members; each has raised large amounts for Romney.

   Federal Election Commission records show that Berman has bundled $424,825 for Romney’s campaign, including his own donation of $2,500, the legal maximum. Sembler also gave $2,500 to Romney’s primary campaign, as did his wife, Betty, sons Brent and George and a daughter-in-law. Fox, his wife, Marilyn, and their two sons and daughters-in-law each also gave $2,500.

Aside from Romney’s campaign, Adelson is now weighing requests for financial assistance from other outside groups. They include: the Coleman-chaired American Action Network, which in 2010 reported spending $26 million on political activities; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is planning a $50 million issue advocacy campaign to help the GOP take control of Congress, according to fundraisers familiar with the casino owner’s political operation.

   Nonprofit groups such as the Republican Jewish Coalition, Coleman’s American Action Network and the chamber are not required to publicly identify their donors.

   But the Center for Responsive Politics found some of the Jewish Coalition’s donations listed in its 2010 tax filings.

   Adelson is also expected to make a multimillion-dollar donation to Crossroads GPS or an affiliated super PAC, American Crossroads, say GOP fundraisers.

Adelson has been a big GOP check-writer for some time and also has been close to Rove since his days as the top political adviser to former President George W. Bush. Adelson provided the lion’s share of the $30 million raised in 2008 by Freedom’s Watch, a now-defunct nonprofit that was a major outside spender in that year’s elections.

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