The demonization of Sheldon Adelson

Few people have been more maliciously and undeservedly maligned this election cycle than conservative businessman and Romney supporter Sheldon Adelson. The Obama campaign and the media have presented Adelson as a villainous casino mogul who bankrolls Republicans only to tilt elections in his favor. Any fact that contradicts this narrative — his generosity, his strength of character, or anything that might suggest he is inspiring or deserving of a good name — is buried, dismissed as irrelevant, or conveniently barred from the conversation. But he’s a good man. It’s shameful that he’s being smeared.

Adelson was not born into money; he worked hard to earn everything he has today. He and his immigrant parents were living in a rough part of Boston when he dropped out of school at age 16 to sell newspapers on street corners. He worked in over 50 businesses — from bagel vending to court reporting — before finally earning a lucrative income in his mid-30s by launching a top computer tradeshow. Adelson became a billionaire only recently, with the construction of his innovative Las Vegas casino, The Venetian.

Adelson generously spreads vast sums of his fortune to worthy causes. In the last decade, he has donated incredibly large amounts of money to charities such as Yad Vashem (the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem) and Taglit-Birthright Israel. He started the first Jewish school in Nevada. With his wife, he founded drug rehab clinics in Las Vegas and Tel Aviv as well as a research foundation to find cures for life-threatening illnesses. His funding for medical research alone reaches into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

But you wouldn’t get the impression that Adelson is one of the nation’s most generous philanthropists from listening to Democrats attack him. Disturbingly, the attacks on Adelson may not be limited to rhetoric. In 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department began investigating him for alleged business misconduct.

As a conservative and a proud Jew, I find it maddening to watch Adelson being vilified when he has contributed so much to the causes I support and the country as a whole. He should be being praised for his generosity and lauded for his rags-to-riches story. Instead, he’s being demonized.

Even Adelson’s method of political giving is exemplary: He chooses to donate publicly and transparently, rather than through indirect, discreet means. In an interview with Forbes earlier this year, he remarked, “Guys like [George] Soros have been doing it for years … they stay below the radar by creating a network of corporations to funnel their money. I have my own philosophy and I’m not ashamed of it. … I don’t want to go through 10 different corporations to hide my name. I’m proud of what I do.”

Adelson stands up for what he believes in, even when he knows that doing so makes him a target. It’s disgraceful that so many people are willing to defame such a generous, honest and hard-working man.

Josh Nass is a conservative talk radio host who frequently appears on HuffPost Live as well as MTV, NPR and Fox News.