Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s family is bankrolling Gingrich super PAC

February 1, 2012

Family members of Las Vegas Sands casino magnate Sheldon Adelson donated $1 million last year to an independent group supporting presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, in addition to the $10 million that Adelson and his wife, Miriam, have given the super PAC this year.

Of the $2 million in donations reported through the end of 2011 by the Winning Our Future political action committee, which backs Gingrich’s campaign, half came from the daughters and son-in-law of Miriam Adelson, according to filings made to the Federal Election Commission this week.

After Gingrich’s loss to Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s Florida Republican primary, the super PAC may again turn to the Adelson family, which has single-handedly kept Gingrich’s presidential bid alive. The Adelsons are strong backers of Gingrich’s views on Israel, where Miriam Adelson was born.

The large donations from the family members, who had already given the maximum allowed to Gingrich’s campaign, helped Winning Our Future launch a barrage of negative advertising against Romney.

Sheldon Adelson is chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., operator of casino resorts worldwide, and one of the richest men in America. Miriam Adelson is a physician.

The new reported donations came from Miriam Adelson’s eldest daughter, Yasmin Lukatz, and her husband, Oren Lukatz, who gave $250,000 each. Adelson’s second daughter, Sivan Ochshorn, gave $500,000. Adelson has four children; the two daughters who donated to the PAC are from her first marriage, to a Tel Aviv physician.

The Adelsons declined to comment, but friends of the couple said they expect them to remain loyal to Gingrich. “He will stick with Newt until Newt drops out of the race,” said an associate of Adelson who spoke on the condition of anonymity so he could comment frankly about his longtime friend. “I think he’ll do whatever he needs to do to support Newt and do whatever he needs to do to beat Barack Obama.”

Winning Our Future, whose spokesman Rick Tyler declined to comment, has spent about $12 million to promote Gingrich’s candidacy, according to reports. The total raised by the PAC is not known because the FEC reports do not include donations after December.

The only other major donations to the PAC listed in the report were from Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, who is a major backer of Gov. Rick Perry, and Alabama commercial real estate investor W.S. Propst. Each gave $500,000 in December.

Super PACs, under recent court rulings, can accept unlimited donations. They are not allowed to coordinate with a campaign. Winning Our Future is run by former Gingrich associates who previously worked for his campaign.

Winning Our Future reported to the FEC as the address for Miriam Adelson’s daughters and son-in-law — Ochshorn and the Lukatzes — as being the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas owned by Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. Yasmin Lukatz serves on the board of trustees of the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Campus, a school in Las Vegas.

No campaign contributions to federal candidates or committees were made by Oren Lukatz until late 2010. Since then, he has made nearly $400,000 in donations, including the recent PAC gift. A 2008 story from the Israeli news site Haaretz.com referred to Lukatz as a high-ranking Las Vegas Sands Corp. executive, and her biography on the campus Web site states that she is special assistant to Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands. But a company spokesman said Lukatz is no longer an employee of her stepfather’s firm.

Sivan Ochshorn studied astrophysics and business administration, according to Haaretz.com, and she is married to attorney Patrick Dumont, a vice president of Las Vegas Sands, according to FEC filings. Dumont also is a major GOP contributor.

Little is known about Lukatz, who began making contributions to Republicans in 2007 and is listed in federal reports by campaigns as a homemaker or an executive at the Venetian. According to Haaretz.com,Yasmin Lukatz returned to Israel “to do for military service as an officer in the Israeli Air Force. Afterward she attended Tel Aviv University, studying law and business administration.

Yasmin’s husband, Oren Lukatz, did not make any campaign contributions to federal candidates or committees until late 2010, records show. But since then, he has made nearly $400,000 in donations, including the recent PAC gift.

His Twitter bio says that he was “born and raised in Israel, educated in Europe and in the United States.” A graduate of the San Franciso Art Institute, Oren Lukatz’s photography has been shown in U.S. galleries, according to his Web site. One recent show, “Road Closed Ahead,” features “dead-end alleys, old motels, neglected buildings, empty pools and filthy streets” near the Las Vegas Strip, the Web site said.

Staff researcher Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.

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