How radioactive is Sheldon Adelson these days? It’s gotten to the point where the casino mogul and Gingrich campaign mega-contributor is vulnerable to criticism in some quarters even when he does something non-controversial. That’s the only way to look at the issue of whether he had any involvement in the creation of a special post-Sabbath Republican caucus meeting in Nevada’s Clark County.
Accommodating Jews who observe the Sabbath and might otherwise be deprived of participation in a caucus scheduled on a Saturday seems like just the right thing to do, especially in a city like Las Vegas with a not inconsiderable Jewish population. But after the publicity that has attached to his decision to pump $10 million into the Gingrich campaign, Adelson is so sensitive about the notion he is manipulating the Republican Party that his spokesman denied today he had any involvement in the decision to set up a Saturday night caucus that will take place at a Jewish religious school he and his wife helped fund. But according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, he does deserve some credit for the effort to help Orthodox Jews vote.
The paper reports Adelson was approached by a member of the Orthodox community in Las Vegas (the city where his hotel/casino business is headquartered), and asked him to intervene with the state GOP. Adelson asked the GOP state chair to allow absentee ballots but was turned down because caucuses are predicated on voters showing up in person at these events that can start meeting at 9 a.m. that day. Apparently, the idea for a special post-Sabbath caucus site was an initiative of the Clark County GOP.
But no matter whose idea it was, providing a reasonable accommodation for observant Jews (among whose number Adelson and his wife apparently don’t number themselves) was entirely correct. It will be interesting to see if the estimated 500 Jews and Seventh Day Adventists who show up at the special 7 p.m. caucus at the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Campus will back their patron’s favorite candidate, Newt Gingrich. But whether they do or not, no one should criticize the GOP or Adelson for letting them have their say.