Conservative mega-donor Sheldon Adelson recently pressed presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to call for the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, unnamed sources close to the two men reportedly told Daily Beast reporters Eli Lake and Dan Ephron.
The report comes just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Romney in Jerusalem and reportedly raised the subject at a dinner and presented the former Massachusetts governor with a petition for Pollard’s release.
President Barack Obama’s administration has, like prior administrations both Democrat and Republican, consistently refused to release Pollard, who was first detained in 1985 while in possession of classified information, then sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for passing secrets to Israel’s intelligence services.
For Adelson to push Romney on Pollard’s case lends a new weight to Israel’s continued overtures to have the former spy’s life sentence commuted, being that Adelson claims he’s prepared to spend up to $100 million to defeat President Obama.
Adelson formerly supported former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), who said just last December that his “bias is towards clemency” for Pollard. Gingrich’s remarks came just over one month before an Adelson-funded super PAC delivered one of the most devastating blows of the Republican primaries: a 30 minute anti-Romney ad that hit the frontrunner’s business record at Bain Capital with some of the same lines of attack President Obama is using today.
While Romney hasn’t said whether he’d commute Pollard’s sentence, Lake and Ephron noted that he did say last December, speaking at the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, that he would “review the facts” once elected president.
Adelson, whose net worth reportedly exceeds more than $25 billion, is currently facing a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into his Las Vegas Sands Corporation after internal documents revealed that Adelson told executives to pay more than $700,000 in legal fees to an official in the notoriously corrupt Chinese region of Macau to facilitate construction of his casinos.
Macau police said Monday that a series of raids targeting organized crime syndicates operating within the casinos, including those run by Adelson’s company, resulted in over 1,300 interrogations and more than 150 arrests.