-By Mike Allen
September 23, 2012- LAS VEGAS — At the Republican National Convention in Tampa last month, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson got high-fives from strangers; entertained Karl Rove, Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki in his well-stocked luxury box; ate dinner with House Speaker John Boehner; and had a private meeting with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Last week, Adelson got a front-row seat — and a shout-out from Mitt Romney — at a $1 million campaign fundraiser at a Vegas casino. Paul Ryan held a private meeting with Adelson four days after being named Romney’s running mate.
Worth just over $21 billion and now in the cross hairs of the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, Adelson has made history: He is the first person to spend $70 million to sway a presidential election, and he plans to spend more — perhaps as much as $100 million — by Election Day. An estimated $20 million to $30 million of the giving went to groups that do not disclose their donors and had not been reported before.
Adelson (pronounced ADDLE-son) is the dominant pioneer of the super PAC era — by far the biggest donor to the web of secretive groups that are adding nearly $1 billion to the more traditional spending by the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee.
The 79-year-old literally spreads the wealth: He sent $5 million to the super PAC run by Boehner allies and $5 million to the super PAC run by Cantor allies.