A source close to Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul playing a major role in funding former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's revived presidential bid, tells ABC News exclusively that Mr. Adelson is "puzzled" by the attention the recent Super PAC gift has received.
Adelson, who has battled successfully to keep unions out of his various Las Vegas properties, says labor unions give "hundreds of millions of dollars" to candidates in every election cycle with little or no attention.
When asked what Mr. Adelson expects in return for his contributions to Mr. Gingrich's Super PAC, the source said, "Nothing." He continued, "This is a principled contribution to a man who Mr. Adelson believes shares his values and vision for America."
Adelson's wife, Israeli-born physician Dr. Miriam Adelson, signed the check on the couple's joint account providing the money to Gingrich's Super PAC, Winning Our Future. The contribution brings the couples' total support of Winning Our Future to $10 million, after Sheldon Adelson gave the Super PAC a $5 million shot in the arm just before the New Hampshire primary earlier this month. That initial cash infusion has been widely credited with breathing new life into Gingrich's campaign and directly leading to his resounding defeat of Gov. Mitt Romney in Saturday's South Carolina primary.
The most recent Adelson donation is already potentially coming in handy in Florida. Today, Winning Our Future announced a $6 million buy to air an ad attacking Romney's Massachusetts health care plan.
Having the financial resources to take to the air waves is crucial to winning in Florida, a large and heavily populated state where expensive television advertising is critical to reaching voters.
Gingrich's Super PAC is attempting to go head to head with Gov. Mitt Romney and his well-financed Super PAC Restore Our Future. Their ads attacking Gingrich effectively annihilated the lead the former House Speaker once held in Iowa over Mr. Romney. As of Monday, Restore Our Future had spent $11.1 million.
Adelson is one of the wealthiest men in the country. Ranked 8th on the Forbes list of richest Americans and 16th in the world, he amassed his fortune in Las Vegas as a high-end casino owner after growing up in humble circumstances in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. His net worth is estimated at $21.5 billion.
The Gingrich Super PAC contributions are not the Adelsons' first foray into the political realm. Prior to the recent Super PAC donations, they've given $7 million to Mr. Gingrich and his causes starting in the mid-1990's, and contributed $500,000 to the second inauguration of President George W. Bush. They are also long-time and generous supporters of Israel. He donated $25 million to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, and since 2007 they have given $100 million to "Birthright Israel," which finances Jewish youth trips to Israel.
Adelson's company, the Las Vegas Sands Corp., announced record earnings at the end of the third quarter. It is a remarkable turn-around for a company whose stock plummeted by 90 percent in 2008 at the height of the economic downturn.
"Nightline" spoke to Sheldon and Miriam Adelson in a rare and wide-ranging interview first broadcast in November of 2010. Watch the video of that interview HERE.