In just a few hours, the final 2015 Republican debate's Las Vegas venue will host the current frontrunners of the GOP party -- and the Review-Journal's anonymous new owner might be linked in more ways than one.
Every Republican presidential hopeful taking the stage no doubt knows the name of Sheldon Adelson. The mega-mogul operates casinos from Las Vegas to China, and, more importantly for them, pours more money into GOP coffers than almost any other donor on the planet. According to campaign financing disclosure website Open Secrets, Sheldon pumped $6 million into the 2014 election cycle, with every cent of it going to the GOP.
That number dwarfs in comparison to the funding he gave to Mitt Romney's failed bid for the presidency in 2012. According to the Washington Post, Adelson dropped $93 million, more than any other political donor, on the 2012 elections. A fact that didn't go unnoticed when a casino from Adelson's massive Las Vegas Sands holdings was chosen for the final 2015 Republican debate.
Sheldon's influence appears to have tipped off former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about just who has taken control of LRJ. Appearing in a press conference before reporters on Tuesday just hours before the Republican debate, Harry made a veiled reference to Adelson. Later, one of his aides confirmed to Politico that he does indeed believe that the Las Vegas giant is the mysterious buyer.
"We have a few rich people in Las Vegas, one of whom is well known, so we'll see. And he owns newspapers in other places."
The newspaper in question has generally maintained a conservative-libertarian editorial line, which has put it at odds with Reid on more than one occasion. Harry commented that no matter what party the new owner hailed from, it was likely to be just as embattled with him as always.
"I don't know who bought the newspaper, for sure, but I can say the editorial policy can't be any worse than it has been for 10 years."
Though it's not probable that the guarded LRJ purchase will come up in the Republican debates Tuesday evening, demands to know who the new owner is have echoed across the nation. When News + Media Capital Group made a winning bid of $140 million to take over the paper, staff was shocked to find out that even they would have no idea who their new boss was. Taking to social media, reporters attacked the shady process -- though an article written to appear in the publication about the change in ownership removed all references to the controversy, reported the New York Times. That article also named Sheldon Adelson.
At least some of the individuals taking the stage in the Las Vegas Republican debate have been personally drawn into the debate over transparency at LRJ. Jeb Bush made a special trip to the headquarters to speak with editorial staff, but he left just as confused as the public.
Just finished hour+ @reviewjournal ed board. Only q left unanswered - who owns the newspaper?
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) December 14, 2015
Tune into the Las Vegas Republican Debates Tuesday night at The Venetian, the world's second largest casino. In first place is its Chinese counterpart, The Venetian Macau, which also owned by Sheldon Adelson -- two assets that can be confirmed unlike his possible Las Vegas Review-Journal addition.
[Image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]